Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Film Review: Oblivion

Grade: B-

          Oblivion is a big budget science-fiction action adventure starring Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman directed by Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy). One of the most pure, traditional sci-fi blockbusters to come around in a while, in certain ways Oblivion harkens back to the simpler yet more wondrous sci-fi films of the genre’s early years while retaining the knock out spectacle of a modern $100 million plus blockbuster. While the futuristic dystopian world of the movie is breathtakingly beautiful and elaborately imagined, Oblivion may stick to close to genre conventions for diehard sci-fi fans while conversely be overly genre indulgent for casual moviegoers.

          Kosiniski has said that Oblivion is a tribute to the science fiction films of the seventies and that influence is clear in the film’s unabashedly bold mythology and narrative. In the film the year is 2077 and Earth has been ravaged by an alien invasion. Much of the world is uninhabitable wasteland and no civilization exists across the desolate globe. The remaining population of the human race lives either in a gigantic spacecraft orbiting the planet or on the newly colonized Titan, moon of Jupiter.  Jack Harper (Tom Cruise), Technician 49, is one of the last remaining humans on Earth. Jack is a maintenance technician for the flying robotic security machines known as droids, which are designed to protect resources and hunt alien opposition. When a mysterious craft crashes in Jack’s patrol area and he rendezvouses with a woman he has been dreaming of but does not know or remember, questions arise and Jack finds himself at the center of a conspiracy with galactic ramifications.
          Above all Oblivion is a stunningly gorgeous film. The sweeping, ravaged landscapes of the desolate Earth and “future tech” armory of weapons and vehicles will give sci-fi fans plenty to drool over. Unique and creative designs such as that of Harper’s sleek hovercraft help establish a signature feel to Oblivion’s world and further develop the film’s mythology.
          Even with all the genre fan-service Oblivion is unmistakably a big studio movie. The film rests heavily on Tom Cruise’s shoulders, who is more than up to the task and carries the narrative almost single handedly through the two hour running time. The cinematography and soundtrack are direct and unobtrusive, with little risk or flair. The elements are all merely supportive of the core here as the film focuses on its narrative, star power, and visuals while eschewing any type of aggressive filmmaking.
          Oblivion is a great treat for science fictions fan and has the potential to be a fun popcorn and soda getaway for moviegoers. However it is a sort of peculiar release as it may be too safe and familiar for its target audience but also just a little to out there and spacey to attract the casual crowd. Releasing within a month of Summer heavyweights Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness will stint Oblivion’s run at the box office and is bound to leave it buried and overlooked in the long run. That’s a shame because while maybe not groundbreaking Oblivion is a solid, fun family friendly science-fiction spectacle that if it was made thirty years ago would today be a cult classic Easter egg in all fans of the genre’s Netflix queue.

Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Page & Clerk