a critiQal film review Oblivion (2013)

Plot: Jack Harper (Cruise) is one of the last few drone repairmen stationed on Earth. Part of a massive operation to extract vital resources after decades of war with a terrifying threat known as the Scavs, Jack's mission is nearly complete. Living in and patrolling the breathtaking skies from thousands of feet above, his soaring existence is brought crashing down when he rescues a beautiful stranger from a downed spacecraft. Her arrival triggers a chain of events that forces him to question everything he knows and puts the fate of humanity in his hands.

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  • ...smart acting and a stylishly beautiful backdrop help propel this alien invasion story past its generic ending and silly wrap-up.

We were perusing our titles, looking for something to watch, when we came across Oblivion.  I vaguely remembered this was decent, and Carmella had never seen it, so we decided to give this a try.  Would Tom Cruise make another decent sci-fi movie (like War of the Worlds (2005) and Minority Report (2002)), or were we in for a disappointment?

Tom Cruise leads the cast in Oblivion, and does a good job with it.  He has enough emotion to give the feeling the film is going for, but not so much the viewer thinks he’s hamming it up.  His character is conflicted right from the get-go, and that only gets worse as the film progresses.  The stark contrast between his attitude and that of his “by-the-rules” partner (played by Melissa Leo) makes that obvious.  He does such a good job with his character the viewer won’t have any problem sticking around even through the more muddled moments of the film.

The rest of the cast is pretty good as well.  Whether it’s Melissa Leo as the aforementioned partner, Olga Kurylenko as the mysterious woman who haunts his dreams, or Morgan Freeman, the cast is right on.  Even a familiar face from “Game of Thrones” (TV), Nikolaj Coster-Waldeau (aka Jamie Lannister) is a welcome addition to Oblivion.

The post-apocalyptic Earth is pretty impressive too in Oblivion.  It has the obligatory brief moments of recognition t (Statue of Liberty’s torch!  Is that the Sears Tower?), but they are done so in a way that doesn’t push them on the viewer.  Instead, they are merely the backdrop, a brief “aha” moment as the film progresses.  Even the new structures, like the observation posts in the sky, are well done, and the cloudy panoramic view around these are spectacular.

The plot, on the other hand, gets a little muddled.  After a promising start – and a few decent moments – Oblivion boils down to an alien invasion story.  Sure, there’s a bit of a twist, but the climactic ending sequence can be seen coming from miles away – and doesn’t bring anything new to the genre.  It’s too bad really, since the buildup presents something a bit more unique.  To have the film end the way it does is a bit of a letdown.  And the wrap-up leaves a bit too many unanswered questions.

Taken apart from it’s generic ending, however, Oblivion isn’t half bad.  With a slight twist on the alien invasion story, some smart acting, and a stylishly beautiful backdrop, viewers should enjoy this sci-fi story – even if the ending is a bit too “been there, done that” in this genre.

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