o b l i v i o n
12th April 2013
11th April 2013
I may have mentioned on here before that I am something of a sci-fi fan so I have to admit I was quite looking forward to Oblivion. The trailer looked pretty and there was promise of something more than just great visuals from Tron: Legacy helmer Joseph Kosinski. Did it deliver?
Well, the answer if I’m in a really good mood would be pretty much yes it did. In a less welcoming mood, I’d opt for a pretty drawn out nah. You see, Oblivion is a solid, beautiful looking, well paced (if slightly over-long) bit of sci-fi. It’s not dumb but it’s not inspiringly intelligent. It has bursts of reasonably exciting action but some long periods of expositon. That this averageness isn’t a deal-breaker for me, shows how much good will the film builds with its thoughtful approach. Ultimately it will will probably boil down to how much you want to sit watching Tom Cruise for two hours.
To reveal too much of the plot would take away the edge from the film but briefly we find Tom and work wife Andrea Riseborough maintaining droids on a devastated Earth whilst awaiting their tour of duty to finish before they head for the stars and mankind’s new home on Titan. This sits less well with Jack (Cruise) than it does with Victoria (Riseborough) and he spends secret time away in a small part of the Earth that looks like it used to. I keep referring to Earth but you can pretty much substitute that for America as Tom’s unit only seems to be patrolling New York’s broken landmarks.
As I mentioned above, the film looks beautiful, even in its depiction of the derelict planet. The whole thing has been production designed to a stunning degree. The level of detail, particularly in the almost branded equipment is bordering on the fetishistic. Quite why the couple have been provided with a glass-bottomed swimming pool on the side of their sky floating penthouse is something you probably don’t want to be pondering too long.
The action in the film is decently handled though at times I really felt like I was watching a computer game. The sequence where Jack rides his lovely white bike across the wasteland, rappels into a very suspicious library to retrieve a droid and has to balance on a beam across a chasm in the floor is pure Tomb Raider, as is his eventual escape from the hole. I was almost looking for the obvious handholds in the walls. Okay, so I’ve alienated a good portion of you there but the rest will know EXACTLY what I mean.
The trouble with the film is that the planet feels too empty. The ‘scavs’, as the requisite baddies are just cardboard cutouts for the most part, enlightened by Morgan Freeman phoning in a typically gravel-voiced sage performance. After that we are only left with Cruise (great as always), Riseborough (deliberately mannequin-like - not a criticism) and later Olga Kurylenko as a mysterious woman Jack locates in a downed craft. There are vague attempts at fleshing out Freeman’s right-hand man but nothing sticks, it’s a three-person show.
Oblivion has so many plot-holes that I deliberately stopped thinking about them as it was spoiling my memory of the film and I think you have to approach it like that. Whereas Dark Skies made me want to kick average into the river, Oblivion makes me want to like average. If you ignore its flaws, enjoy your sci-fi and have time to spend watching Cruise, it’’s well worth a look. If you’re lacking any of that motivation, I’d tend to give it a miss. If you are going to see it though, I’d recommend seeing it at the cinema, the visuals on the big screen are really impressive. Just don’t bring a takeaway meal in with you like somebody did at the screening I went to. That’s just rude.