Oblivion Directed by: Joseph Kosinski Cast: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Andrea Riseborough, Melissa Leo, Olga Kurylenko Running Time: 2 hrs 6 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: April 19, 2013
PLOT: A drone repairman (Cruise) in a post-apocalyptic future is responsible for protecting the remaining natural water supply being shipped to a community of survivors up in space.
WHO'S IT FOR? Like many of his films, if looking at Tom Cruise is all you need, then this will be one of the greatest movies you'll ever see in your entire life. Outsiders to that demographic should consider how much they like Cruise, and also the science fiction genre. Ask yourself, are you ready for an effects-heavy futuristic movie that is both spacious and boring?
EXPECTATIONS: Strolling into Oblivion, I was curious as to what a futuristic Tom Cruise vehicle would be like, especially from the original story of Joseph Kosinski, who crafted that dull neon nap of a movie TRON: Legacy.
Tom Cruise as Jack: Tom Cruise is one of us, sometimes. With Oblivion, he takes this star vehicle to appear like a blue collar worker; he's just a regular old repairman who loves sports history, uses chewed gum to repair super technology, has one-way banter with an Elvis bobble head doll, wears a Yankees cap while on the job, etc. Except, like other Cruise roles, such a vehicle moves under Cruise's conditions. His attractiveness to ladies is still unquestionable, and his athletic sense is always at drama-less top shape. Oblivion certainly benefits from having someone as huge as Cruise in this role (this is his I Am Legend in that regard, but that isn't a good thing). Yet like the story itself, he can't propel this rather generic ploy at audience endearment despite all the bells, whistles, and characteristics added to yet another "Jack" in his filmography. Score: 5
Morgan Freeman as Beech: Freeman holds one of the film's more mysterious roles, so I won't go deep into it. What I will say is that this isn't too surprising of a role for Freeman, especially after recently being seen as the unlikely leader in last month's Olympus Has Fallen. Much of the respect for his character is garnered simply because he is being played by Morgan Freeman. Nice steampunk-y sunglasses, though. Score: 4
Rest of Cast: The women of Oblivion are very stationary, unless it's Andrea Riseborough stripping to the buff to provide a swimming session never seen on "The Jetsons." Riseborough and Leo sit behind control panels for much of the movie, their characters assisting Jack directly and indirectly, without much thought going on for themselves individually. Kurylenko is framed throughout the movie as a big deal, but ... we are only told she is important, and never feel like she actually is. Score: 4
TALKING: With a film that is so spacious in its storytelling and its look, this plot doesn't even need much of the spare dialogue it already has. At best, the dialogue is all about providing back story, which exist like simple pins due to be slowly knocked down throughout the film. And for what it's worth, Oblivion continues a trend from Evil Dead of having a dumb expression from victorious hero to doomed villain. Instead of being victorious, this moment plays out like a line from a blooper reel. Did Kosinski use the wrong take by accident? Score: 4
SIGHTS: Like Kosinski's previous TRON: Legacy, at least he gets the visuals of this movie right. The production design may not have that many new ideas (the future is white and sterile), but the detailed visual effects mixed with natural canvases give Oblivion the solid post-apocalyptic future look it needs. And yet an example of this movie's visual effects only going so far can be found in a distinct single-shot action sequence, in which the camera rushes through a factory-like setting, up and down hallways without cutting. While the camera might be having fun zipping around in this sequence, the flat action of this moment prevents the audience from feeling such excitement. Score: 7
SOUNDS: Like Daft Punk's score for Kosinski's previous TRON: Legacy, Oblivion's score by M83 features electronic strings that rush back and forth, with very Zimmer-esque barreling brass humming underneath. Instead of taking a unique chance for composition, Oblivion is fine with sounding like the rest, a disappointing choice that makes the movie all the more drowsy despite the score's overbearing volume. BRAAAAAHMMM BRAAAAAAHHHHHMM. Score: 5
BEST SCENE: Perhaps Oblivion really gets off the ground during the third act, involving a nuke delivery Independence Day style.
ENDING: It's a big reveal that can kind of be seen miles away, so the film's desire to explode audience members from their chairs and send them into a vortex of surprise is pretty much miffed. It certainly makes you rethink all the comforts you had with the rest of the plot, which is still a little fun.
QUESTIONS: Does the ink not disappear on a xerox after multiple copies of a single copy have been made? Was this movie such a hot commodity in Tinseltown because Cruise was attached to it? Is there an intentional average guy agenda to Cruise constantly playing characters named "Jack"?
REWATCHABILITY: As I am sure you will gather from the rest of this review, Oblivion goes by really, really, really slow. So I am not sure this pacing would improve, or that the film would be more interesting, in a second viewing.
First, a word about robots. If you're going to make efficient mechanical beings supporting characters, at least make them interesting. There are too many scenes in which it seems like it's not just the characters, but the writers as well, who are not sure as to what great use these predominant boop-ing orbs are. They show up, boop and beep, and then they leave. Sometimes they shoot at things.
As much as the film may want to be a different type of mainstream sci-fi big budget story, Oblivion's desired singularity is too easily canceled by exposing itself as a clone of other genre movies before it. This is something that damns the twists Oblivion tosses around to keep its story interesting, as such surprises can be predicted whenever the film starts to look familiar ... too familiar.
This spacious science fiction story, often begging for something interesting to happen, travels at the speed of ssslllooowww. From the director of neon lights nap TRON: Legacy arrives Oblivion, an original ripoff that is either playing its box office appeal too safe, or is not using half as much as imagination with its story as its visuals.
FINAL SCORE: 4/10