Review: Oblivion

Having made his directorial debut with Tron: Legacy, Joseph Kosinski’s own original creation hits the big screen and proves to be more about atmosphere than action.

Set in a future were aliens known as Scavengers (Scavs) have destroyed the Moon and as a result put Earth through apocalyptic destruction, forcing the human race to relocate. Tom Cruise plays Jack Harper, a solitary technician who must live in the wastelands and repair the robots that harvest minerals vital to humanity’s survival. However, when a ship crash lands and Jack investigates… everything he thinks he knows is called into question…

To go deeply into the film would be to spoil a great deal of its effectiveness, so I will refrain from doing so. What I can say is that Oblivion is not your average Hollywood sci-fi shooter. It is relatively slow paced, moody and atmospheric; giving time for the audience to see great vistas of wastelands and utter destruction. (It does have its battles, and a particular vehicular chase through an icy chasm was a prominent feature!) I’d recommend a cinema trip just for the wide, rolling landscapes and the very Tron-esque soundtrack. It is great to see science fiction films rising above being just overblown shooters and sequences of explosions!

But it isn’t without flaws. Kosinski is a new director, and while he has clearly been influenced by some of Tron‘s successes (soundtrack and art designs) and makes them his own now, I can’t say the script here was particularly interesting. A lot of it was pretty stock sci-fi, ridged and emotionless. Okay, I cannot express reasons why this might be relevant, but even when taking those into consideration it still felt wooden. The narrative felt clouded in its own ambiguity, and as such I didn’t feel enough for the people involved, or whether or not they succeed in their goals.

Personally I found it a gorgeous film to look at, a real art and concept design marvel; I could see multiple inspirations from contemporary science fiction of today (films, video games etc) and as a fan of the genre I happily ate it up! I also love to see original ideas getting such big screen treatments. More casual audiences might find it a little long-in-the-tooth however…

Additional Marshmallows: Oblivion is based off Kosinski’s own graphic novel creation.

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