Review – Oblivion

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Posted April 23, 2013 by in Feature Films

Rating

Story
6.5


Directing
7.0


Acting
8.0


Experience
9.0


Value
7.0


Total Score
7.5

7.5/ 10

Overview

Type: ,
 
Genre: ,
 
Director:
 
Actors: , , ,
 
MPAA Rating:
 
Running Time: 125 Minutes
 
Release Date: April 19, 2013
 

Pros:


+ Some strong acting performances
+ Occasional eye melting visuals
+ A tale as old as time, yet still enjoyable
 

Cons:


- 0% original content
- Terrible costume design for the scavengers
- Plot contradictions are distracting
 
Overview

Oblivion is an amazing and original piece of sci-fi cinema for anyone who hasn’t seen Moon or Wall-E. For everyone else, impressive visuals and decent performances make for an enjoyable, yet familiar experience.

by Eric Hawkins
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A Note About Spoilers

We have no desire to spoil anything for you. We don’t cover story elements not found in theatrical trailers and TV spots. You will be exposed to those elements of the story if you read the full review, so if you have avoided advertisements for this movie, you may wish to use the scores above and skip the review until after you have seen the movie yourself.

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Story

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The story of Oblivion is one most sci-fi fans have heard, in its entirety, many times before. Where Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a fresh take on a basic premise, Oblivion delivers a simplistic, although highly polished, take on a deeper narrative.

Set in a dystopian Earth in 2077, Jack Harper (Cruise) is part of a two-person team who is responsible for maintaining drones that are working to help prepare a migration of the human race to a destination off-world. Paired with Jack is Victoria, played by the lovely Andrea Riseborough, who works the white-collar desk in their condo-in-the-clouds while Jack does the hands-on repairs on the planet surface. The duo is part of a massive operation to extract vital resources for the trip and is two weeks from retirement reintegration with the colony.

Jack has a nagging obsession with the long-since destroyed New York City that gets him into trouble when he falls into the hands of those responsible for the downfall, the Scavengers. The Scavengers came to Earth to harvest natural resources, but were driven back and have only small hold-outs left who spend their nights damaging drones, thus giving Jack something to repair during the day. Jack comes face-to-face with the Scavenger leader, Beech (Freeman), who lets Jack in on a new perspective.

Directing

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Oblivion is directed by Joseph Kosinski, who did an arguably passable job with Tron: Legacy and is rumored to be involved with the upcoming remake of Logan’s Run, so it’s no shock his work feels somewhere between homage to and rehash of many other movies in the sci-fi genre. Produced by some of the team behind Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Oblivion is the equivalent of an awesome cover band whose few original songs are rough and lacking.

Acting

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I’ll admit I’m not the fondest admirer of Tom Cruise and his one-note acting technique, but working in a sparse cast left to portraying his character rather than having it interact with others seems to work quite well.

Andrea Riseborough is not a household name, but she should be if she can get roles like this more often. She is warm, yet robotic in her role of the steadfast counterpart to Jack Harper and his disregard for protocol and thirst for adventure. Her performance was by far my favorite of the film and helped the movie keep a genuine sci-fi aesthetic.

Morgan Freeman is actually a minor player in terms of screen time, and as with all of his roles, his acting equates to speaking while in a costume. He delivers as expected but neither adds nor detracts from the movie as a whole. The one thing I can call out is that he did not distract or take you out of the experience, which is better than I expected after seeing his terrible look in the trailer.

Finally, we have Olga Kurylenko. Playing the role of Julia, she shows up in a mysterious pod and becomes a point of confusion and conflict as the story unravels. She plays the role well, but the character lacks any perceivable depth, leading you to care less for her fate than the fate of Jack’s ship.

Experience

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There are visuals in Oblivion that are beyond anything I have seen, and at times there is unparalleled brilliance in art direction and design. The rest of the movie is bland and dark and visually uninspired, but not in a way that hurts the overall experience. It fits with the story to have a dead planet and adds extreme contrast with the Tron-esque tech. Seeing this in a legitimate IMAX theater definitely added to the awe-inspiring visuals and action scenes and is the ideal setting for a movie that leans so heavily on eye candy.

Value

Oblivion is a fun ride with some memorable scenes, visuals, and performances. If this movie had come out before Moon and Wall-E, it would be one of the most influential sci-fi epics of all time. Instead it’s an indirect love letter to many of the sci-fi greats that will probably be a part of every 4K TV early adopter’s library. If you have a legitimate IMAX theater at your disposal (as in a monster screen theater, not just one that’s IMAX certified), you cannot go wrong with Oblivion.