Review: Oblivion / Cert: 12 / Director: Joseph Kosinski / Screenplay: Karl Gajdusek, Michael Arndt / Starring: Tom Cruise, Andrea Riseborough, Morgan Freeman / Release Date: August 19th
The saying goes that there is nothing new under the sun, and this is especially true as far as Hollywood is concerned. The marketplace is flooded with remakes, reboots and prequels to the classics with nary an original idea in sight. Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion was criticised for being derivative of many of the classics, having elements of Silent Running, WALL-E, The Matrix, Moon and Independence Day. Whilst this might be true, the elements in Oblivion are presented in such a manner that it feels oddly refreshing and shouldn’t be dismissed outright.
Tom Cruise plays a man left on Earth to repair security drones after an alien invasion where they destroyed the moon causing environmental catastrophe. The rest of humanity has made their home on one of Saturn’s moons. He has memories of another life which interrupt his daily routines and after he meets a woman who has crash landed on Earth, he starts to question his life and his job. During much of the first act, a unique approach is in evidence as Kosinski favours a return to the clean surface sci-fi of Kubrick’s 2001 rather than the gritty and dirty cinema of Nolan or Blomkamp that is currently the standard. This hasn’t been seen in a while and the cloud-based tower that Cruise lives in with his wife (played by Andrea Riseborough) is a stunning creation that never feels stagey, especially the swimming pool in a visually breathtaking and well shot sequence. Oblivion is a film that takes place in broad daylight as opposed to a dark and bleak setting, and this adds to the feeling of freshness.
The first act may drag on for a longer time than is necessary, but with the assistance of M83’s evocative and propulsive score, Kosinski sets the scene perfectly for what is to come. The second act plunges headlong into reveals and plot turns and though it may feel a bit muddled at certain parts, because of the weight that has been given to the world and the opening scenes, the drama succeeds and has its share of shocking moments.
TRON:Legacy was criticised for a certain amount of style over substance but Kosinski definitely had a skill with the performers. Here he gets even better performances out of Tom Cruise and Andrea Riseborough especially, and a key role from Melissa Leo. As a result, Oblivion has a certain substance that was missing from TRON: Legacy and when the characters feel things you are right there with them. Oblivion is no classic but it is entertaining and executed in such a way that it all adds up to one of the better sci-fi films of recent memory.
Extras: Commentary, Deleted Scenes / Making of / Isolated Score track