Review: Oblivion

Oblivion – (Oob·liv·i·on)


1.The state of being unaware or unconscious of what is happening.

2.The state of being forgotten.

There’s a danger when borderline plagiarising your classic predecessors that you too can be forgotten.

And for much of Tom Cruise’s latest action vehicle and re-entry into sci-fi after 2005’s War of the Worlds, there is also that feeling of unconsciousness to what is happening when it quickly begins to feel blatantly imitating.

By not setting its own innovative direction Oblivion feels empty and like a series of repeated events from more golden sci-fi entries; WALL-E drones with the eye of HAL and the intent of The Terminator, broken landmarks from a whole host of post-apocalyptic ventures and others that to name, would reveal too much; the list is as long as the arm.

In defence, Oblivion wouldn’t be the first.

This deference (let’s say) makes Oblivion lack originality, so how is it all still decent?

For one thing, it does tick all the sci-fi boxes (perhaps too many) except invention, which is painfully becoming and may always have been the trickiest thing to do in Sci-fi.

It looks amazing; Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski captures that same visual glowing illumination which can be best described as cool. A sensational euphoric soundtrack too stimulates the ears in tandem; to make it all feel, superficially at least, consuming.

The imagery of strung out iconic structures across vast landscapes never gets old either, as Tom scurries and cruises around in superbly designed craft to do the day job of maintaining Earth’s drone guardians. The only thing Tom doesn’t get to ride in is a stock car, getting to buzz around in a future super-plane and a bike once more, with a remote wingman in Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) who here is more ‘Icy’ than ‘Goosy’.

Cruise absorbs enough as the other Jack (Harper), even if his plight lacks the feeling of true isolation when accompanied by an “effective team” member. Placing Jack as the only soul would have made for a far more taught and lonely affair, but may have felt even more like other sci-fi classics. The later arrival of Julia (Olga Kurylenko) fails to muster an engaging love story; both squeezes feel a little ill-fitting with Cruise.

Consistent pacing is an issue, the swift opening and Cruise’s narration telling of the last days of earth after the destruction of The Moon and an Alien invasion by ‘scavengers’ reveals too much info, too quick; a prologue visual exposition of actual events may well have felt more patient and compelling than relying on yet another voiceover. The start-up feels too eager to get to its money shots of iconic buildings decimated by time and tide (pretty big ones we’re told). When Oblivion needs to pause, it moves on too frantically, when it needs to up a gear it gets a little entrenched.

When it does shift up, a good stock of action can be had, from one man dashes across vast deserts to a neat Star Wars-esque ‘canyon-ball’ run as WALL-Es give chase. A later continuous tracking, multi-level shootout from a drone’s eye view is superb.

And the comparisons don’t end there, the attempted joining of the dots Independence Day ending gives yet another nod, but it is at least an awesome spectacle of scale, in-keeping with Oblivion’s aesthetic strengths.

With so much replication then, perhaps Oblivion is oblivious to its piracy; regrettably I suspect it’s not, but what it still certainly knows and does is entertain no matter how unoriginal, making it not wholly forgettable.

Oblivion 3 stars review

34 responses to “Review: Oblivion

  1. I’m sure I’ll give this a shot some Friday night for beer and pizza night. When I went to see Evil Dead, before the opening trailers, there was a big, long “making of” for After Earth. Have you seen anything about that? It looks TERRIBLE (IMO).

    • yeh, it’s got big willy and his kid in it hasn’t it? so yeh it’s going to be horrible lol.

      Oblivion isn’t bad TBH.

      Elysium will undoubtedly be the best of this particular bunch this year.

      • Yep @! After Earth – directed by M Night and featuring his trademark sense of speech. Looks awful.

        On the other hand, Elysium appears to be worthy of burning a vacation day to hit the theater : )

  2. This opens here Friday and I’m anxious to see it. The reviews have been interesting and have covered a lot of ground. I have to say I’m pretty pumped up for it though.

    • There’s a lot to enjoy in it, certainly looks amazing I have to say. I thought it was good, Christ I got to the cinema with a broken ankle so must have had enough draw! Enough for me to recommend you go take a look see.

    • it’s decent to the point that it has no right to be with it copying so much.
      3 stars is still good, worth a watch my friend, would recommend a view, at times it’s really good.

  3. I thought it was worth a four at least, I really liked it. I’ll argue with the unoriginality because its very hard not to step on some toes in this category. I think the twists in the end where better than a lot of resent films which I new the entire plot from the beginning because of way too much foreshadowing.

    The visuals where great, good review 😀

    • Good comment here Tim. Respectfully disagreeing,not a four for me on just one view, a seven (10)perhaps but I don’t do halves. 3 is regarded as good though, it’s unoriginal but as you point out as did I in a very specific line in my review, “In defence, Oblivion wouldn’t be the first” as ever a believer of a positive trumping a negative I used the word deference when being reasonable about its ‘homaging’ shall we say. Absolutely though it’s the toughest genre to be original so totally agree on that. It’s been done to death hasn’t it? I liked the end too even though all I could think was big willy and Jeff goldblum 😉 I do admittedly have a sneaky feeling that this movie will grow to be regarded as one of the better recent sci fis as you say. Good comment.

      • I give good comment (Quick what’s that reference?!)

        I’ll except a 7 😀

        I think they did what they set out to do with the story, but I can think of a few original ideas just off the top of my head for a sci fi film 😀

        Good point on recent sci fi films, looking back over the past 5 years what was a better science fiction film? Except District 9 and Inception haha not them 😀

      • ooo-er! 😉 yeah 7 is good!

        there hasn’t been that many decent Sci fi for a while, Would count Looper, Moon, District 9 and of course Inception, source code was good. Hang on there’s more than I first though 😉

      • ha ha, funny that I just reviewed Total Recall, had Deja vu watching it after watching Oblivion so recently, makes that look like a classic now!

  4. I’ve heard some relatively mixed things about it but I’m very interested in checking it out when it comes to theaters here on Friday. Nice review.

  5. I’m kinda curious about this movie myself. My friends want to know if it is worth going. So I’m going for them. That’s what I do. It has Morgan Freeman in it. So can it suck?

    • Well I can safely say it’s worth going, your a good a good friend 😉 Morgan Freeman isn’t in it enough but he’s always good value

  6. So jealous of my UK friends who’ve seen this one! Can’t wait to see it Friday. I know it’s not the most original concept as you say, but I’m still game if it somehow still offers something new.

    • Well worth a look, absolutely. You normally get them first so it’s a nice change. doing somethings differently it could have been a classic but I am confident you will enjoy it

  7. When I first saw the trailer for this movie in theaters and the title scrawled upon the screen, “Generic Sci-Fi Action Movie,” I turned to my friend and said, “Look, it’s Morgan Freeman.”

    • Thanks Mark. I have seen some ‘generous’ reviews on this one. IMO was decent. enough in it to enjoy so defo go see, I still enjoyed it.

  8. Why do I have the feeling that this is going to be one of those “pretty but shallow” films that gets high ratings from the general audience despite just being sort of OK? (Independence Day and Avatar come to mind — though at least the latter really pushed the boundaries of being pretty.)

    • yep, that would be about right. Some pretty generous reviews out there which I generally can’t agree with but respect. 3 Stars tops for me, very pretty indeed but unoriginal, worth a look for sure.

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