Thursday, April 18

Oblivion Review

Dir: Joseph Kosinski
Starring: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman,
Olga Kurylenko, and Andrea Riseborough

There is something to be appreciated about a film that isn’t a sequel when the summer blockbuster season looms so close. However, it’s also more difficult to sell audiences when you don’t have the momentum of a franchise behind you. Oblivion, an adapted graphic novel by director Joseph Kosinski, is a visually well-designed science fiction mystery that begins with early promise but unfortunately falters with an unsurprising third act that feels over influenced by familiar material.

Earth’s moon is destroyed causing natural disasters after an invasive war, Earth won but not without consequence. The remaining landscape is an isolated wasteland. Jack (Tom Cruise) is a technician for defensive equipment guarding the remaining resources of Earth and hunting aliens known as Scavengers. He is guided on daily objectives, given by an off planet company, and communicated by his partner Victoria (Andrea Riseborough); they are a team stationed high above Earth’s surface in a floating living station. Jack, though having his memory wiped, is having recollections of a past life that involves a woman named Julia (Olga Kurylenko). While on a repair mission Jack witnesses a vessel falling to Earth carrying a crew of hibernating bodies, one of whom is familiar to him.

Oblivion is director Joseph Kosinski’s second feature, his first being Tron: Legacy.  Kosinski’s design of the isolated Earth is striking. The subtle use of visual effects to create a recognizable, though destroyed, landscape (the film was shot in Iceland) keeps the film supported within a realm of practicality instead of feeling overly manufactured. Jack cruises the desolated landscape in an imaginative hybrid plane/helicopter and a transforming dirt bike. The well-designed props and locations are further accommodated by a fantastic score, which is composed by M83. Unfortunately the great supporting elements are only assisted for a short time. The script introduces a mystery, and initially executes with potential, but as the secrets reveal the narrative crumbles under the weight of its’ own creation. For those familiar with popular science fiction films you’ll probably notice that Oblivion pulls influence from numerous sources in the final act, a decision that distracts from the original ideas proposed early on in the film.

Cruise plays Jack with similar temperament to his past heroic roles; basically a likable yet lost individual trying to uncover a conspiracy while finding love, or some other emotion.  Though Cruise is good in the simplistic role, it would be interesting to see a different spin on this recognizable character. The most interesting performance belongs with Riseborough’s character Victoria; she is a straight-laced, rigid woman counting down the days till retirement. Her characterization creates a vagueness in reference to her partnership with Jack and her ultimate motivations. Morgan Freeman makes the most of his minuscule appearance as Beech, the leader of a group of rebels still inhabiting Earth. His introduction in the film alone is welcome enough in the scheme of the narrative.

Oblivion is filled with inspiring designs and an evocative atmosphere, which works to present an intriguing introduction. As the mysteries unravel so does the film; familiarity sets in and the conclusion becomes too reminiscent of other, better films. Still, Kosinski’s ambition in attempting to create a new work of science fiction is commendable, even if it's not completely successful.

Monte’s Rating
3.00 out of 5.00

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