Oblivion - Review

Inventive or original sci-fi movies have become a rarity. Most sci-fi movies nowadays rely on a heavy amount of action to compensate their flimsy storylines. Sci-fi milestones like Matrix or Planet of the Apes have become a thing of the past as it seems.
But next to upcoming sci-fi movies like Elysium, director Joseph Kosinski introduces his new sci-fi flick starring Tom Cruise - Oblivion. With an interesting premise that hints at twists in the story, this movie seemed to have good chances to amaze sci-fi fans. Topped up with unique designs of futuristic technology, Oblivion quickly became one of this year's movies i was the most curious about. Does Oblivion hold some nice surprises or does it make its name justice?

The plot:
One of the few remaining drone repairmen assigned to Earth (Tom Cruise), its surface devastated after decades of war with the alien Scavs, discovers a crashed spacecraft with contents that bring into question everything he believed about the war, and may even put the fate of mankind in his hands. 
(source: IMDb)

Different from Joseph Kosinski's previous "effort" Tron: Legacy, Oblivion tries to get the viewer's attention more with the help of its story rather than its effects.
Oblivion's story about a repairman, who, through the appearance of strange events, starts to question all of his believes is certainly nothing too unfamiliar. Just as with Wall-E, it starts with basically a "garbage man" whose daily routine and peace gets disturbed as the main story starts.
Yet, witnessing how important "explanations" and storyelements slowly come together are what keep Oblivion's story going.

While its first act is fairly intriguing and interesting to see develop, the viewers attention span quickly drops with Oblivion's extremely padded second act. As the story continues and more and more twists get revealed, movie goers will feel multiple flashbacks regarding other significant sci-fi movies. Every reveal or explanation feels like a light version of the ideas of other milestone sci-fiers. You really don't have to be a sci-fi geek to spot every single inspiration director Joseph Kosinski had when he was writing the script.
The slow decrease of Oblivion's originality and its predictability really becomes a problem the more the movie heads towards the end.
The story basically hits rock-bottom when by the end all the ideas get thrown together and result in a big cluster of seperate ideas that don't even make sense in the long-run.

Just look at all this originality.

What has to be given credit though is HOW each of the "ripped-off" ideas are put into context. While none of the reveals or twists will make viewers' jaws drop, the actual connections that remain to be explained with every reveal are what keep the necessary amount of the audience's interest.

The sad thing about it is that most of the movie's best ideas or "connection-ideas" are kept very short and for the most part unexplored. It is not really a good thing when short hints of supposedly big ideas in a movie make you think of a better plot than the movie actually has.
While the movie oftentimes manages to make sense to its bigger cluster of different sci-fi ideas, explanations given by the characters are badly written. Characters explain simple ideas in a very shallow manner or just flatout don't tell Tom Cruise what's going on until much later...without any good reason!
"Why didn't you tell him about this in the first place?!" and "Get to the point!" is what i was constantly thinking.

With that said, Oblivion is not really an action movie. Despite the fact that the CG effects in the movie are plenty and some of the action scenes do manage to entertain you, they are scarce and are mostly CG-effect-extravaganzas that offer nothing new. The result is a very dialogue heavy movie.
What does steal the show however is the awesome design of the movie's technology. Yes, it all does look like its sponsored by Apple, but one cannot deny that the design of Tom Cruise's insect-like hovercraft is pretty inventive and just looks cool.

Tom Cruise and weaponry sponsored by Apple.

Considering the acting, Oblivion is basically a one-man-show. Tom Cruise is the actor who pulls the story forward for about 99% of the time (at different speeds) and easily has the maximum amount of screentime possible. Cruise gives a solid performance in this movie that won't get him any awards but manages to sell his character.
What it doesn't sell though is his forced chemistry between his female partner Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) and Julia (Olga Kurylenko). Them living out their relationship or making you feel like there's any bond between them at all is barely present, resulting in an unconvincing love-arch in the movie.
But the shortest side of the stick is given to Morgan Freeman. With barely any screentime and a thinly written character, his artistic talent is nothing given to work with here.
By the way, placing him in the trailer and on the posters gives away one of the movie's biggest plot twists! What a stupid move from the advertising department! But well, i guess Morgan just wanted his face on the poster.
Other actors like Kurylenko and Risenborough are nothing to brag about, with Kurylenko feeling the most wooden.

Peek-a-boo! Spoiler!

All in all, Oblivion turns out to be a very flashbacky movie. While its style and premise have to be given credit, ultimately it turns out to be a movie that manages to have only very little originality. Giving the audience cover-versions (or rip-offs) of sci-fi ideas that we already saw several years ago, the only thing that really manages to hold the movie up are the interesting connections that put the different ideas into context...even though they ultimately don't quite make sense and are not given enough attention (aside from its ethically questionable ending).
This furthermore becomes a problem, when it's taken into account that Oblivion isn't even really an action movie and therefore has nothing big to compensate its lack of originality in the dialogue-heavy story.
Although Oblivion manages to still be recognized as an "okay" to "mediocre" movie (mostly through its production values), it's undeniable that the movie somehow feels just as soulless as its depicted landscapes of the abandoned Earth.  

Final Verdict: 4 out of 10 

1 comment:

  1. I watched it yesterday and the mystery unfolds only at the end. Beautiful visual effects ( I dont know if there is a 3D version to this film). The film is on similar lines to the Maxtrix Revolutions conceptually. Tom Cruise is brilliant, as usual.