Lowdown: An Adam & Eve crew looks after an earth devastated by aliens.
In the near future, earth is attacked by aliens. They start with the moon, whose destruction causes massive earthquakes, and move on to earth. Eventually, the earthlings win through use of their nukes, but at the cost of their planet. Humans have fled to Titan, and only a two person crew made of scout Jack (Tom Cruise) and operator Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) remains behind to ensure Titan gets its supply of earthly energy. The two have a fight on their hands, though, because although supported by killer drones those nasty aliens are still out there to put up a fight.
A film that requires the dictation of an exposition along these lines is off to a bad start. Indeed, there isn’t much more for me to say about Oblivion’s plot that wouldn’t bloop the hell out of this movie for you. So I will go right ahead to the criticism.
By no means can it be said Oblivion is original. Plot elements are heavily borrowed from others, most notably from Moon and then from Matrix and even Independence Day. Then there is the not so slight problem of too many things not making sense that is coupled with the problem of combining too many coincidences to support the suspension of disbelief. No, I am not finished yet: there is also the problem of the audience being actively deceived as to the true nature of things. I can accept Tom Cruise deceiving himself, his personal track record there speaks for itself; but why trick us?
Throw in a complete waste of acting talents like Morgan Freeman and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (better known as Jaime Lannister) and I’m positive you would concur: just like director Joseph Kosinski previous film, Tron Legacy, Oblivion is a science fiction tell full of missed potential. On the positive side, though, M83 provides a nice soundtrack to proceedings, albeit a far cry from Daft Punk’s work on Legacy.
Last, but not least, I have to add I am sick and tired of films that regard “the world” to mean “the USA”. Our Jack is limited in his scope of travel to radiation free zones, which in this case means – don’t hold your breath – New York. What a surprise! I was sure he’s going to find himself lost in Africa. Hollywood is not doing itself any favours with its Americanism.
As critical as I am of Oblivion, it still has to be said there are pretty entertaining sci-fi elements throughout. One of those depicts Jack approaching the ruins of a tower, ready for any surprise that may come as he examines things through the scope of his assault rifle upon entering the structure.
The look and feel reminded me so much of a specific Mass Effect mission I could not avoid savouring every second of it. Alas, our Shepard did not find his Liara there (although in another very Mass Effect like scene he does).
Did I mention too much of Oblivion feels like it's been borrowed from elsewhere?
Overall: As much as I like these big time science fiction movies, and as much as I appreciate those that go beyond humans shooting aliens and vice versa, Oblivion is simply too flawed to matter much. 2.5 out of 5 stars.