Oblivion * * 1/2

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Director: Joseph Kosinski.
Screenplay: Karl Gajdusek, Michael Arndt.
Starring: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Andrea Riseborough, Olga Kurylenko, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Melissa Leo, Zoe Bell.

Say what you will about Tom Cruise but there’s no denying that his choice of projects have always been bankable. Throughout the 80’s and 90’s most of his films and performances were of a particularly high standard. The same could be said of the 00’s as well. However, over the last three years, cracks are beginning to appear; “Knight and Day“, “Rock of Ages” and “Jack Reacher” have failed to register any form of quality. On the surface, “Oblivion” has all the hallmarks of the Cruiser getting back on track but, unfortunately, proves just as lacklustre as the aforementioned duds.

In the year 2077, Earth has been obliterated by an alien race and the surviving members of humanity have moved on to inhabit Saturn’s moon, Titan. Jack (Tom Cruise) and his wife Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) have remained on earth, though, to protect machinery harvesting the planet’s resources before Jack begins to suspect that his mission isn’t as straightforward as he thought it was.

Director Joseph Kosinski follows up his previous science fiction film “Tron Legacy” with another venture into the future. He works from his own graphic novel and delivers an intriguing premise that pays homage to classic Sci-Fi movies like “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Planet of the Apes“. His setting is suitably bleak (captured beautifully by cinematographer Claudio Miranda), his use of visuals are striking and his tone is perfectly sombre. In fact, Kosinski actually assembles a good addition to the science fiction genre. Unfortunately, his assembly soon falls apart due to a script that’s devoid of any substance or characters that we can invest in. The pace is lethargic, to say the least, which only really registers that a lot of the film is just padding. Nothing happens for a good chunk of the movie and when the plot is finally opened up, it fails to make sense or hold any form of coherence. Even if it did, your likely to have lost interest by that point anyway. Cruise wanders around aimlessly (presumably in search of characterisation) and the likes of Morgan Freeman and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau needn’t have turned up at all. The most frustrating thing overall, though, is that the big reveal is one that we’ve seen many times before and all, but completely, rips-off Duncan Jones’ far superior “Moon“. The similarities are almost shocking and I wouldn’t have been surprised to have seen Jones’ name on the screenwriting credits.

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Kosinski is a director that may yet find his feet. He certainly has an eye for sumptuous visuals and can stage a fine action set-piece. However, he really needs to work on a coherent narrative and one that isn’t as dull or desolate as the landscape that his characters roam.

Mark Walker

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36 Responses to “Oblivion * * 1/2”

  1. I remember simply loving this film when I first saw it… and I really don’t understand why. The script was dull indeed – but yep, Kosinski’s got promise. Great review.

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    • Thanks Elina. Yeah, there are still positives that could be thrown Kosinski’s way. He’s not written off yet. I thought this might have been something that I could really have gotten into but it was tedious as hell, man. It looked great but was very disappointing.

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  2. Ive got it but not watched it yet. It looks beautiful from the shots Ive seen advertised, but a lot of people seem to say theres not a lot going on. Still, Cruise is always worth a watch. Nice job chief

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  3. Good review buddy! I have to say I quite like this one. I love the look of the film and I think the slower pace actually works well. In fact, it’s when things start to pick up that the movie loses me a bit. It certainly does take from several other sci-fi movies. But it’s gotten to where we see that in almost every science fiction picture these days. I don’t know if they are all running out of ideas or what. I know it really didn’t bother me here. And in the end I had fun with it and I think it really was a good vehicle for Cruise.

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    • Thanks, man! I suppose I didn’t mind the slow pace at the beginning. At that point, the film looked as if it was going to be great but it seriously lost its way and failed to make sense as it unravelled. This could have been brilliant but felt like a missed opportunity to me.

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  4. Great review, this is pretty much exactly how I felt too. It had some great potential, but the characters and plot just aren’t there. Not a bad movie, but definitely disappointing.

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  5. Strong work buddy; a review I completely agree with. After a promising first act, it tails off and by the end I’d kinda lost interest. Looks great, but ultimately there’s not a lot of substance there.

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  6. Hi Mark, I think I gave it a slightly higher grade but now I barely remember much about this one. I did like Andrea Riseborough’s performance though, but yeah this is more style than substance, just like Kosinski’s previous film TRON LEGACY.

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    • I totally agree on Riseborough, Ruth. She actually managed quite a lot with her role and was probably the only one to come out of the film unscathed.

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      • I’ve seen three of her films so far just in one year and boy is she versatile! The first time I saw her she played an American in Disconnect and it floored me when I found out she’s British. I recommend Shadow Dancer if you haven’t seen it, it’s a slow-burn thriller set in Belfast.

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      • I’ve only ever seen her in Welcome To The Punch but her name keeps appearing. I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more of her.

        Shadow Dancer is the one with Clive Owen? I’ve got that on my list already. I keep hearing good things about that.

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  7. I agree about massive similarities to Moon, they kept the story of Oblivion so secret when promoting the movie and it was practically the same! i loved the music and the cinematography but overall I found this one to be very forgettable.

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    • Absolutely Sati. I was actually quite angry at how they blatantly ripped Moon off. It’s nowhere near the same league as Jones’ film, though. ‘Forgettable’ is the perfect word to describe this.

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  8. Basically every sci-fi movie convention thrown into one, just with Tom Cruise and some cool visuals. Good review Mark.

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  9. I keep hearing this sort of falls flat, and to be honest, there is nothing about it that has a draw for me to check it out. Hmmmmm…

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    • It does fall flat, Zoe. You wouldn’t be missing very much if you chose to avoid it. I had hopes for it but ultimately, it was rather dull.

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      • In that case, I will continue to just avoid it rather. I wasted so much time on bad movies this weekend to last me a lifetime!

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      • I know how that feels. Every film I’ve seen recently has been quite disappointing. I’ll need to remedy that and choose more wisely!

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      • I have the same feeling. Well, one came in recommended, and it sucked (as unpopular as I am going to be about it). Drive was excellent, the rest substandard. Meh. I think we need to band together and discuss decent things to check out!

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  10. The similarities to Moon really are staggering. They must have known it was the same, they couldn’t have been that ignorant. Maybe they were hoping that mainstream audiences hasn’t seen Moon. I think I liked it a little more than you but it’s still pretty and substandard. Looks great but that’s about it really.

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    • Yeah, it was insulting to the audience and to Moon that they played it this way, Chris. I think this is what made me dislike the film even more. It probably could have been given a higher rating but I couldn’t see beyond the rip-off.

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  11. Nice review, Mark. This movie was alright, though it was definitely lacking in certain regards. For one thing, Moon wasn’t the only blatant ripoff this movie stole from, and in fact, you can’t go five minutes without seeing a scene ripped straight from another better movie and tacked onto it. Still though, despite its lack of original ideas, it still looks pretty enough I suppose.

    (Also, boo, I thought Jack Reacher was really surprisingly good, and Rock of Ages was awesome cheese, lol. :P)

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    • Yeah, you’re spot on Chris. I could have elaborated on how many Sci-Fi movies I seen this one take from but, in all honesty, I didn’t want to waste much time on the review. It did look great, though. That was certainly in its favour.

      You liked Jack Reacher and Rock of Ages? Man, I just couldn’t get into Reacher and I drifted off from Rock of Ages. I’ve not been a fan of Cruise’s output of late.

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  12. If anything you were too nice to this crappy film in your review. 😉 I would have rather seen a film all about Morgan Freeman and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s characters.

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    • It was rather poor wasn’t it? I gave it 2 1/2 for its look and sombre tone but really the story was complete mince. Couldn’t say wether I preferred Freeman’s or Coster-Waldau’s characters either, though. I completely lost interest by the time they turned up.

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  13. Popcorn Nights Says:

    I haven’t seen it but I am still intrigued despite the lack of plot, the rip offs and the negative comments. I’m not sure why…I’m no fan of Cruise either. But I’ll give it a whirl. Anyway, enjoyed the review!

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  14. Nice review. I rated it a bit higher, as I liked how — unusually for a modern day blockbuster — it seemed to have a story with a decent structure. Agree that Moon did it better though.

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  15. Very dull script. I think I gave it the same rating as you.
    Very pretty to look at though haha.

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