OBLIVION review times two – Gary Murray & Ronnie Malik weigh in on Tom Cruise’s latest

OBLIVION review times two – Gary Murray & Ronnie Malik weigh in on Tom Cruise’s latest


OBLIVION†review by Gary Murray

Over the last few decades science fiction has gone from the drive-in to the most main of the mainstream. Arguably, the change started with Forbidden Planet. Since Star Wars and E.T., science fiction is definitely become the major source of revenue for the studios and a mass media entertainment. Over the last few decades, Tom Cruise has proved that he is the most successful actor, worldwide. He has been a part of many blockbusters, in just about every genre offered. He has done a couple of sci-fi flicks such as War of the Worlds and Minority Report. Combining Tom Cruise and science fiction is just a natural idea. The latest to do it is in the Joseph Kosinski space action-adventure Oblivion.

The year is 2077 and there has been an alien invasion. The earth has won but the planet has been destroyed. The entire population has been moved to Titan to restart civilization. Tom plays Tech 49, a man who has had his memories wiped. In his dreams, he somehow has visions of the world before the attack, some sixty years ago. In his mind he sees a vision of a woman he cannot remember.

Tech 49 has a singular job, to repair the drones that travel the planet destroying the last of the alien Scavengers who pepper the planet like roaches. Tech 49 lives high above the earth with his communications officer and lover Victoria (Andrea Riseborough). She assures her superior Sally (Melissa Leo) that they are an Ďeffective teamí.

But Tech 49 has a secret. He has a special valley that is lush with vegetation and animal life. There are remnants of the world before the war, books and records that Tech 49 has collected. He has a connection to the planet he cannot shake. On an exposition, our hero picks up a signal coming from a burned out building. It is the Empire State Building, the structure in his dreams. A shuttle has been signaled from orbit and something parachutes to the planet. Tech 49 investigates and finds a hibernating crew which includes the woman from his dreams. To give away any more of the plot would spoil the film.

The story of Oblivion is how Tech 49 discovers the truth of both what happened to the planet and to the truth of what happened to him before the memory wipe. He is aided in this search by Malcolm (Morgan Freeman), who knows the real truth that Tech 49 has to discover for himself.

This is stunning film to watch. Director Joseph Kosinski has taken this graphic novel story and fleshed it out into a major science fiction event. The special effects are amazing, with ships flying through canyons more in the vein of the climatic ending of Star Wars. The drones remind one of the evil hunters of Robocop, with powerful weapons that jut and pull with mechanical menace. Some of the storms are out of the Aliens ship-drop and most of the sets feel as if they are from Planet of the Apes. And that entails the biggest problem with Oblivion. It feels as if it has been pieced from about a dozen other science fiction films. It is much more derivative than cutting edge. So much of the film has that ‘been there, done that’ feel. Elements of the plot have been in much better films.

On the plus side, Tom Cruise once again proves why he is one of the most recognized faces on the planet. He brings a subtle charm to a role that is much more self-reflective than the straight action fare. The role requires much from the actor in terms of depth and naivety and Mr. Cruise delivers every aspect of the character with a certain style and grace. But, the biggest reason to watch Oblivion is Andrea Riseborough. The actress is in a second release in two weeks, showing even more range in a character that is both mysterious and lost. The role is a blank slate that is more put-upon than emotionally driven. She is becoming someone like Jessica Chastain, an unknown actress who just burst on the scene with stunning performances in films many did not see.

Oblivion is not a great movie but it is a good movie, more an entertainment than a memorable film experience. It is worth seeing on the big digital projection screen, just to be engulfed in the experience but it is not the kind of film that will be cherished as a seminal cinematic event.


OBLIVION review by Ronnie Malik

Director: Joseph Kosinski

Cast: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Melissa Leo, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Rating: C

Letís take a pinch and a dash from movies like The Matrix, Total Recall, Star Trek: First Contact, Independence Day, add a little spice from the old TV show The Jetsons and throw all the ingredients into a boiling pot. What comes off the stove is a dish called Oblivion, a sci-fi thriller that is a Tom Cruise tribute. Directed by Joseph Kosinski (Tron Legacy), Oblivion looks great on the plate but never develops enough flavors to create any excitement.

We are in the year 2077 and earth has been destroyed by alien invaders. The surviving human race does defeat the aliens but is forced to create a new world on Titan, one of Saturnís moons. Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) and his partner in work and love Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) are tasked by their commander Sally (Melissa Leo) to repair and maintain mechanical drones. The drones are a weapon of sorts that are programmed to wipe out scavengers (aka the aliens) on planet earth. Jack and Victoria’s mission is protecting these giant reactor contraptions that are being used to harness energy from the earth in order to provide power to Titan. Jack and Victoria only have two more weeks to go on their tour of duty. Both partners are ecstatic that once their contract is fulfilled, they will be transported to Titan, a paradise among the stars. If only things were really that simple.

In an effort to make Jack and Victoria more efficient, the powers that be have wiped out the memory of the two comrades (a theme borrowed from Total Recall). The only thing they know is their mission and that they make a great team. They live out their lives in an apartment that looks like something out of an Ikea advertisement. The apartment is high up in the sky fully equipped with everything they need including a pad for a state of the art futuristic shinny helicopter. Jack gets a kiss on the cheek every morning as he gets ready to zip around the world and make it a safer place. This scene looks straight out of the old TV series The Jetsons and will almost make you laugh it looks so ridiculous.

While on a routine mission Jack discovers a group of resistance fighters led by Beech (Morgan Freeman) and also comes across a woman named Julia (Olga Kurylenko) who has ties to a past that Jack can’t remember. It is through these two connections that the truth about what is really happening on earth and Titan is finally discovered.

If you like Tom Cruise then you will love this film. Cruise is in every shot and is very believable as the conflicted action hero surviving one crisis after another. Kosinski puts together a movie with an interesting pallet. There is the visual effect of a shattered moon still floating in the sky along with images of a planet ravaged by war but a place where the sun still shines giving hope that one day planet earth will remerge as an inhabitable home for mankind. There are chase scenes between Cruise and the drones that will remind you of the chase scenes done in the old classic Star Wars that are a ton of fun to watch.

Sadly, despite all the action and special effects (thank God the movie was not in 3D), Oblivion falls flat like a pancake. The filmmakers have put together a movie that is a hodgepodge of a bunch other sci-fi films with too many subplots to count and there is just no thrill in watching the predictable storyline unfold. Without anything for audiences to savor and sink their teeth into, Oblivion will just be another one of those films meant to be erased from memory.

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