Oh Tom Cruise movies! The majority are schlockly crap made to promote him. Honestly, he only had one good film with A Few Good Men, maybe Jerry McGuire and Tropic Thunder if you stretch it. I have nothing against him personally, but his movies don’t tend to be very deep, compelling, or interesting to me (all a matter of opinion). But I’m nothing if not an almost fair and impartial judge of films, so when I saw this movie was going to be out in theaters, I thought “Well, it could be good for a laugh, at least.” After all, I wasn’t going to turn down the only major sci-fi flick coming out this year besides the sequel to Star Trek. But the movie I got was certainly not the one I expected.
Let’s take a look at the newest sci-fi release this year, Oblivion.
The plot is the weakest part of the film by far. That’s not to say that there aren’t interesting ideas, but overall, the plot comes off rather muddled and and with plot twists thrown in for the sake of surprises. I’ll give you a quick recap for those interested in the film before diving into plot-hole territory in the next paragraph. The film follows Jack Harper, who along with his lover Victoria, run the maintenance crew for drones that protect giant hydropumps which are sucking all the planet’s water for the human colony on Titan. However, when Scavs threaten the safety of these pumps, Jack is forced to interact with them and slowly discovers that maybe something is not quite right with his mission and the higher ups in the mission control known as the Tet, a giant upside-down pyramid in the sky.
So, spoiler time, you have been warned!
Skip to the next paragraph to avoid them. Now, if you couldn’t figure it out from the trailers, the “Scavs” are in fact humans left from the war and the Tet is not human, but rather an alien force that is sucking the water out of Earth for its own energy needs. But here’s the thing – we later find out there’s a whole bunch of clones of Jack and Victoria, likely positioned all around the world. So problem one, why use human workers? I get not wanting to get your hands dirty, but we humans are pretty unpredictable with the whole emotions thing. Not to mention our fragility to both physical attacks and diseases, you’d have to replace them with new clones all the time.
Problem two, Morgan Freeman’s character says that the aliens have been sucking out water for 50 years and are still not done. How does that make any sense? Yes, the Earth is 70% percent water, but realistically speaking if you have about 50 or so Jack/Victoria clone pairs with at a minimum ten high powered suction machines, they should be done in 20 years tops, 30 if you wanted to be safe about it.
Problem three, wouldn’t the aliens want to get out of there as fast as possible? And are there actually aliens on the Tet or is the Tet the alien being in question? Cause all we see is another pyramid, which is what communicates with Jack when he enters the Tet. Is that what the aliens are? Where is their home planet? Why do they need the energy? What’s the point of this entire endeavor? Never answered.
The movie itself looks great. It’s a very classy, streamlined look that does feel more futuristic and less iPod-Apple-takeover. The scenes which show the gritty underground feel dirty, not just the stylized grime of lots of other sci-fi and horror films have been trying. In fact, the best parts of the film (visually speaking) are when they are in the underground society, or in Jack’s secret hideway. Why? Because sometimes the film is overwhelmingly, exhaustingly grey. I understand why they used the white-grey-greyer-greyest-black color scheme but it really makes the movie feel dull and sluggish. I honestly think the only reason they chose the colors because they wanted bleakness and dread. They overdid it by a lot.
The acting is quite strong, even from Cruise himself despite what his last few movies would suggest. He actually tones it down in terms of turning on the superstar action hero to play a more subtle and thoughtful character with mixed results. Both Olga Kurylenko and Andrea Riseborough do good jobs as Julia and Victoria respectively, though their parts are merely those of love interests and don’t get in as much on the action. Though, as always, the actor who steals the show is Morgan Freeman. I seriously believe that every movie would be a hit if Morgan Freeman was in it – anything he’s in gets a bonus of 30 points. As the resistance leader Malcolm Beech, he mostly acts as the exposition machine and the face of humanity but if he doesn’t milk those 20 minutes for all the greatness he can.
Oblivion is by no means a great film, but it is relatively good if you’re in the mood for an action sci-fi. The pacing is strong, the ideas are solid, the acting is good, and while there are holes in the plot a mile wide, it somehow holds together. And hey, it even has a Lays of Ancient Rome literature reference if you’re tired of hearing the same popular-but-cliché sources quoted in movies over and over again. I’m not sure whether to tell you to see it in theaters or not, but if you’re up for a gamble, I can’t advise you against it.
– Good acting.
– Great cinematography.
– Some interesting plot choices.
– Plot twists only for shock value.
– Parts seem a little drawn out for no reason.
– Color scheme can be visually draining.