The Ninjabot

Oblivion Review – Putting a New Twist on the Apocalyptic Future

Posted on April 19, 2013 at 2:33 pm by Amanda Andonian


Joseph Kosinki’s Oblivion hit the theaters today; and even while it depends on a great many science fiction tropes that well-watched movie goers my roll their eyes at a little, it also brings something new to the table that I feel makes it a worthy addition to the sci-fi realm. Since I deplore going into movies like this having had much of the story spoiled for me, yet I also enjoy reading movie reviews ahead of time to decide whether I really want to watch, I’m going to do my best to keep this review as spoiler free as possible. Read on for my Oblivion review.

Oblivion Review – SPOILER FREE

A bit on the movie’s story: Earth and the Moon have essentially been destroyed by an alien race called the Scavengers (or Scavs as they’re often referred to in the movie), and humanity defeated most of the invading force by setting off nuclear bombs. Unfortunately, it also left Earth covered in radiation, so now Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) and Victoria Olsen (Andrea Riseborough) are tasked with ensuring that the remaining resources on Earth are completely sucked up and sent to the Tet, a space station where the rest of humanity waits in preparation for colonizing Titan, one of Saturn’s moons.

oblivion movieUnfortunately, there are still Scavs lurking on the surface, trying to sabotage the reclamation efforts, and so Jack often has to go out and repair the drones that are supposed to be protecting the machines currently sucking up the rest of Earth’s water. Jack and Victoria spend their days working together to repair drones, waiting for the day when they can join the colony on Titan. Jack, however, feels innately that they shouldn’t have to leave Earth—a feeling that eventually fuels the rest of the movie as the plot unfolds.

While the movie gets off to a rough start with some pretty heavy info-dumping, the incredible visuals of a dying Earth are beautiful and haunting. Seeing New York completely “buried” in sand and silt brought in from the tsunamis caused by the destruction of the Moon is heartbreaking and difficult to fathom, but there it is right before our eyes. Even an hour after leaving the theater, I still feel a little empty after seeing so much imaginary wreckage. Oblivion is definitely a visually stunning film that makes you consider just how fragile our way of life on this planet really is.

oblivion-tom-cruiseAs for the story, while semi-predictable at times, it did offer a few surprises that kept me engaged throughout the movie’s running time of two hours and three minutes. The alien invasion plot line is familiar to all of us, and all the elements of your usual sci-fi flick (coupled with apocalyptic overtones) are very much alive and well in Oblivion. Since even mentioning what those sci-fi tropes are would spoil parts of the film, I won’t mention them. As much as sci-fi cliches are pooh-poohed upon in general, the way in which Kosinski and the writers have woven those tropes together is a somewhat new and interesting take on your traditional alien invasion film. I won’t pretend that it’s incredibly original overall, but Oblivion did throw in a few curve balls that I feel make this movie more than worthwhile, as well as enjoyable to watch and rewatch.

I don’t really know what to say about Tom Cruise except that every time I see him in a movie, I can’t help but think what a huge star he is. No matter what you might think of him and his personal life, Cruise is never half-assing it when he’s on screen. There were moments in Oblivion when I just stared at his face and thought, “He is making me care about this character, and he’s not even doing anything right now.” That’s how powerful Cruise’s skills as an actor are. He brings an interesting naiveté and innocence to Jack that you’d think would be difficult given the fact that he’s living in an apocalyptic world; but the way Jack holds a Yankees cap in his hand and way he talks about football (a sport he’s supposedly never seen himself) is moving and endearing. When it’s time for Jack to throw down, though, boy does he throw down!

oblivion-morgan-freemanOlga Kurylenko is not really given much to do as the mysterious Julia Rusacova, mostly serving to give Jack a reason for doing what he does. Kurylenko did the best that she could with a pretty bland character, but given the nature of Julia’s presence in this movie, I’m not sure that there was much that could have been done with her. Julia’s there to serve a purpose, and that purpose is to drive Jack’s story further. Riseborough, however, plays Victoria with an amazing amount of depth and nuance. Victoria is not just Jack’s partner: she loves him deeply, but is also afraid of the questions he asks and the things that he believes. She’s happy not to ask questions and wants nothing more than to carry out their mission and leave for Titan as soon as possible.

If you’ve seen any trailers for Oblivion, then you know Morgan Freeman is in it. That’s pretty much all I have to say about his presence in this movie. He does play a key role in the plot of the film, but it’s really just Morgan Freeman doing what Morgan Freeman does: telling it like it is. I was pleasantly surprised to see Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (who plays Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones), and while he isn’t given much to say, he plays the role of Sykes well, being his usual badass self.

Overall, I felt that Oblivion was a thoroughly enjoyable film to watch, and it mostly satisfied my needs in a science fiction movie. If you’re looking for something to see this weekend, Oblivion has my vote.

Review Score: B+

You can follow Amanda on Twitter at @reiko516.

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