Directed by Joseph Kosinski
There’s really no easy way to say it so I’ll just get to the point- Oblivion is pretty much as derivative as they come. While the visuals are undoubtedly a triumph and the performances in the film are all rather solid, there’s just not one single unique thought going on in co-writer/director Joseph Kosinski’s story that seems to borrow from a multitude of films including (but not limited to- I’m sure I’m forgetting a few) 2001: A Space Odyssey, Moon, District 9, Independence Day, Alien, Planet of the Apes, The Day After Tomorrow, Top Gun, Mission: Impossible and Wall-E as well as a few of the more sci-fi oriented episodes of “The Twilight Zone.”
It’s another divisive affair for Kosinski, who also polarized audiences with his equally stunning Tron: Legacy a few years ago; this time he returns with a larger-scale science fiction tale based on a comic book he apparently wrote back in 2005 but decided to never publish (probably a wise idea based on my impressions of the film). Set in the year 2077, it’s been almost 60 years since Earth was attacked by aliens (referred to as scavs or scavengers) who destroyed our moon, causing catastrophic damage that wiped out the world as we know it, leaving our planet in a state of Oblivion (see what I did there?).
With almost all of Earth’s population now residing on their new home on Jupiter’s moon Titan, the last two inhabitants are Jack (Tom Cruise) and his girlfriend, Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), who are tasked with protecting giant machines converting the planet’s water into energy for the new world from the remaining members of the scav army. One day a space shuttle crashes onto Earth, and going against orders, Jack decides to investigate, coming across a strange woman from his dreams who claims to be his wife (Olga Kurylenko)- an event that would forever change his perceptions of himself and the world as he knows it.
Oblivion is endless eye candy and looks amazing in IMAX, but honestly, without any sort of a cohesive story going on, it’s not a movie I’d really recommend plunking down a good chunk of change to see on the big screen. It is rather strong for the first 30 minutes or so as we see Cruise’s character roaming around a desolate and decrepit version of our planet, but once certain plot points are revealed, Oblivion goes right off the rails and never once manages to get back on track. The film also has a hefty running time, clocking over two hours, which completely drags down the second half (seriously, I haven’t seen this many false endings since LOTR: The Return of the King).
Sci-fi fans who have been looking for the next great sci-fi blockbuster will just have to wait a bit longer this year (Pacific Rim! Elysium!) as Oblivion fails to deliver any kind of impact. More style than substance, Oblivion is just a hot mess of a movie that’s having as much of an identity crisis as Cruise’s character does in the film. Fans of Kosinski will probably be able to overlook a lot of these issues, but this writer was pretty bored by the time the fourth fake ‘ending’ rolled around. It’s also the biggest waste of Morgan Freeman’s time since Chain Reaction.
2 out of 5