So, I Watched Oblivion

Oblivion presents a very unique take on a post-apocalyptic/science-fiction film. Instead of initially seeing the life of people living in direct horror of such a cataclysmic event, we are presented with a much more organized aftermath in which man has given up on any chance of reclaiming earth, and are headed for the stars.

Background — We are told the people of the earth are headed to Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. While most have already made the journey, a small contingent of people –two that we know of– are actually left on the planet to perform maintenance on machines that harvest resources from the earth for their new home. The contingency duties also include preventing  sabotage of said machines from a group of aliens called the Scavs, who aim to dwarf their plains. Jack Harper, played by Tom Cruise, heads the actual repair part of the operation, while Victoria Olson, portrayed by Andrea Riseborough, is Jack’s communications officer.

From the onset of the movie, one of the most beautiful and disturbing views is seeing the moon hanging in the sky in shambles. We are told the destruction of the moon preceded the invasion of the Scavs, who invaded earth in an attempt to takeover the planet. The destruction of the moon sent earth into climatic chaos, making it all too easy for the invasion force to get the upper-hand against the nations of earth. In a last-ditch effort to eradicate the enemy,  earth deployed its nuclear arsenal to eradicate the enemy. Earth won, but at a grave cost, destroying all sustainability in the process.

This set up the premise of the film which goes on to present many more reveals and a deeper plot line. I’ll avoid any more spoilers, but I will say things are not as they seem. If you wish to be completely spoiled, see Wikipedia.

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The Good — Tom Cruise does an excellent job portraying Jack Harper, as expected. I know it’s popular to hate on him sometimes, but I honestly can’t say I’ve seen one of his movies in which I totally hated him in. Be that as it may, he gave a very believable performance, as most of the film hinges on the audiences connection with him directly. For most of the first part of the film, he’s the lone person on screen.

I thought the whole moon destruction thing was very clever. Although we don’t actually see this event play out in the film, it just felt brilliant to me as I had not heard of that being  done before. Not to mention it is most certainly a great precursor to invasion by throwing earth’s weather system out of whack. It’s not given very much attention in the movie, but I still thought it was pretty cool.

Computer visuals in this movie are great. With the most notable instances being the post-apocalyptic vistas, the weather effects, and Jack’s aircraft, as well as the drones in which Jack had to repair. Other things like the moon, computer displays, the alien space station, and worn-down versions of notable landmarks, were also beautiful nonetheless and highly-believable. The visual in this film are right up there with the Asgard visuals in Thor, which have been my favorite special effects in recent memory.

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The Bad — Easily the worst part of the movie is the love story. While the events that lead up to the realization of this relationship were pretty interesting, it all played out in the cheezy-stereotypical manner that most movies employ these days. Instead of playing this portion of the movie down and giving us more good sci-fi, it eventually becomes a pivotal part of the film and at times just seems forced.

Oblivion has pretty-good action sequences, but it doesn’t feel like it. The problem is not in the action sequences themselves, which were pretty good, but more in the pacing. This film lends itself to having a slow, drawn-out type of vibe due to the overall premise, which leaves it with the challenge of having the pacing be spot-on to keep the audience engaged. The pacing just felt slightly off with this film.

Pacing issues aside, this scripts leaves a bit to be desired. While the plot twist are great, it seems the writer wants the audience to be satisfied by those and visual effects alone, rather than flushing out a rich story. And the ending felt too cliche, with the all to often case of the antagonist having a supreme lapse in judgement, which seems highly unlikely once you know who the antagonist is.

And then there is Morgan Freeman. While I love Morgan Freeman, him being in this film is pretty  unnecessary. They could have very easily given his role to a no name actor to jumpstart their career. Having Freeman play the role didn’t provide any much needed flare, and was pretty forgettable as far as his plethora of roles go.

The movie also features Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Jaime Lannister on Game of Thrones, as a military weapons expert. While it was interesting seeing him on the big screen, I really don’t get the casting decision, as he is completely a throw away character, and honestly it seems as if this role was written just to get him into the film.

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Conclusion — All in all, Oblivion is a good movie, not great. If more elements of the universe were flushed out –rather than falling back on the ever so present love story, this may have been a greater film.

If you love science-fiction and stunning visuals (score was good also), you will probably enjoy Oblivion. Although the film’s potential is not truly realized, all the elements are there for a great sci-fi story. Oblivion also presents a great plot twist that will keep you interested throughout the film.

I dare say that most of the Tom Cruise’s fan-base won’t enjoy this film, as the action only seems moderate due to its pacing, which I’m not entirely sure could have been avoided, considering the premise of the story. That being said, for some, the pacing issues may be offset by the awesome visual effects.

Final Verdict — Unless you really love sci-fi and don’t mind being bored with a love story that’s given way to much attention, stay away.

Sources: Wikipedia

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