It’s funny how our opinions as movie goers can change over a short period of time. Ten years ago Tom Cruise was the biggest star on the planet. He was a major box office draw and had his pick of the top projects in Hollywood. Then he jumped on a couch, married Katie Holmes and attacked poor Brooke Shields. The public disapproved of Cruise’s trip off the reservation and his box office muscles began to shrink with duds like Valkyrie and Knight and Day. Feelings change though and Cruise has started to regain momentum with the ticket-buyers and critics with films like Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and Jack Reacher. This week he attempts to keep the positive trend going with the post apocalyptic science fiction tale Oblivion.
Oblivion depicts an Earth where the moon has been destroyed by alien invaders, wreaking natural havoc on the planet. We, in return used nukes to defeat the alien invaders, but made mother Earth uninhabitable. Jack (Cruise) is a field tech who’s partnered with Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) his communications officer. Their jobs are to eliminate any remaining aliens (or “Scavs” as they’re referred to) and refine any natural resources that may be left on the planet. Jack is haunted by familiar memories and doesn’t particularly want to leave Earth for the space colony awaiting him. Jack’s natural human curiosity begins to unravel the mystery of what really happened to the planet and what Jack’s role may have been in the destruction of Earth.
The apocalypse is ‘in’ whether it’s at the movies (Pacific Rim, This is the End, After Earth) or on television (The Walking Dead, Revolution, Falling Skies). We love to see the world end and Oblivion cashes it on that craze with a smart Sci-Fi take on the destruction. Earth is depicted as a deserted wasteland with a ravaged moon right out of Thundarr the Barbarian hanging in the sky. The future-technology that Jack uses is very sleek and plausible including the spaceship he uses to investigate the landscape while repairing the defense drones. Speaking of the drones, they are the best killer robots since ED-209 from Robocop. They may seem simple with their circular white shape, but these Scav killing, machine-gun-sided, flying drones are relentless and unremorseful with their targets. Many of Oblivion‘s highlights include the death squad of drones.
There are two significant twists in Oblivion that I obviously will not spoil in this review. One twist is predictable, but the second you won’t see coming. I loved the turning points in Oblivion after the revelations because it made you think even after the film ended, which I enjoy. Unfortunately I can’t get too much into Cruise’s role since it would ruin the movie for you. All I can say is it’s a thought-provoking performance that will make you question if your memories are genetically burned onto your DNA. It may sound crazy, but Oblivion makes you explore that possibility through Cruise’s stellar performance. I’m not particularly a Cruise fan, but I really enjoyed his role as Jack in Oblivion.
Oblivion isn’t as groundbreaking as Looper or Blade Runner, but it’s an entertaining movie that will hold us over until Iron Man 3 gets here in few weeks. It was also nice to see a depiction of the apocalypse that didn’t involve zombies for once. Oblivion is beautifully shot and the special effects blended well with Icelandic landscape that doubled as a dying Earth without a moon. For all its high-tech future gadgetry, Oblivion also has its simple human moments including Jack’s secluded cabin getaway where Cruise shows his human side. I’m sure there will be better films this year, but right now a futuristic dying earth inhabited by flying metal drones with high-powered weapons is entertaining to me. I give Oblivion 3 potatoes out of 4.
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