Movie Review: Oblivion

Letter Grade:

The Good:

Stellar production design, the film looks absolutely beautiful.
Kept me engaged throughout.
Plot goes in unexpected places and is best experienced unspoiled.

The Bad:

Score straight out of the 80s.
Some will complain about the pacing.
Loses some of the stellar design towards the end.
Kind of hard to write a review that doesn't give away the best plot points...

Cast & Crew:

Director: Joseph Kosinski
Writers: Joseph Kosinski, Karl Gajdusek, Michael Arndt
Stars: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough

Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, brief strong language, and some sensuality/nudity

Oblivion left me kind of sad, those poor, poor marketers. How are they supposed to actually sell this movie? I completely understand now why, after seeing Oblivion’s trailer about 20 times in theaters, I still had no clue what the actual plot would be. The plot twists here are so integral to the plot, and your enjoyment of this movie, that you don’t want to give anything away at all. I’m actually a little surprised that they let us see in the previews that Morgan Freeman was in this movie. (Sadly, he does no narration. That’s all left to Tom Cruise.)
The year is 2077. 60 years previously the earth was attacked by the “Scavengers”, and the moon destroyed. The humans won the war, but in the process Earth was left uninhabitable. A giant space station was built orbiting Earth, and all of humanity was relocated to Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. The only humans left on Earth now are there to repair the machinery – huge fusion reactors that suck up sea water to power humanity’s new home, and armed drones to protect the reactors from the remnants of the Scavengers. Tom Cruise, as “Jack”, and Andrea Riseborough, as “Victoria”, are a two-person team tasked with these repairs. All of this is laid out for you in the opening minutes through Cruise’s narration.  Morgan Freeman’s “Beech” and Olga Kurylenko’s “Julia” also play a large role in the film, but to say much more would spoil things. Let’s just say that Jack’s discovery of Julia drives the remainder of the plot…
Say what you will about director Joseph Kosinski’s previous effort, Tron: Legacy  (and their’s plenty you can say about the plot and Jeff Bridges’ face), but it was an absolutely beautiful movie, and Kosinski has carried a lot of that design style over into this movie. I have never seen a more beautiful, bright, and shiny apocalypse. (And the sunsets after the apocalypse are spectacular.) After seeing the film I actually had to go back and choose a new image for the top of this review because the first one I picked out didn’t at all do the visuals justice.  A lot of the production design elements remind me of Minority Report. Incredibly sleek and intuitive, as if an Apple designer designed a product line around a B-25’s ball turret. The aerial scenes put that design to great use, seeing Jack’s ship weave, flip and rotate is like watching an aerial ballet.
I’m sure many will complain about the pacing, it’s not wall-to-wall action.  It’s a lot closer to2001 than it is to Independence Day. (Though there perfectly valid comparisons to be drawn to both.) It kept me engaged throughout, though. When the pace did slip I found myself just drinking in the look of the film. A couple plot points didn’t make total sense to me early on, but as the plot progressed my observations started to make a lot more sense with the evolving narrative. My chief complaint with the film would actually be with the score, and I’ll admit this is completely a personal taste thing. The score is very 1980’s inspired, it could have been pulled straight out of Blade Runner. I just don’t want movies to look like the ’70s, or sound like the ’80s. Later in the movie you also lose some of the brilliant design, as the bright, shiny apocalypse gives way to a more familiar brown and gritty apocalypse.
I enjoyed Oblivion quite a bit more than I expected to. If you’re not demanding constant action and can stand to just let the plot progress at its own pace and soak in the visuals and twists, I think Oblivion is worth seeing.
Rob Bernard (108 Posts)

Rob is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief, and Techie of Cinedraft. He hated Million Dollar Baby. And is really excited about the Ender’s Game movie. More About Me