"Oblivion" (2013)

Oblivion (2013)
Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
Running time: 126 minutes

Now Showing this week is Oblivion, directed by Joseph Kosinski (Tron Legacy). It has been sixty years since mankind won the war against an invading race of alien scavengers (colloquially referred to as “Scavs”), and Earth is now a barren wasteland. Humanity has abandoned the planet, seeking refuge on Titan, one of Saturn’s largest moons. However, Earth still has some resources that could be of use to mankind, and before leaving they set up some devices to extract them for transport back to Titan. These machines need to be guarded from the remaining Scavs that still infest the planet, and this is done so by a force of weapons drones. These drones are maintained by a small team of two people, Jack (Tom Cruise) and Victoria (Andrea Riseborough). Jack and Victoria’s tour of duty keeping the drones in check is very close to its end, however when a spacecraft containing mysterious cargo crashes onto the surface, they begin to question their perception of their mission and the world around them…

I shan’t say anymore for the sake of spoilers. It’s story is one of the strong points of Oblivion; it was a tale that had me incredibly interested from start to finish. Not only is the initial premise an excellent foundation for a story, the mystery that begins to unravel was one that had me guessing throughout the film, occasionally going where I thought it would and often to places that I didn’t see coming! Oblivion feels like a combination of several of the greatest science fiction works of the last few decades, containing inspirations from author Phillip K. Dick, AlienIndependence Day, I Am Legend and many others. These inspirations weren’t all story aspects, a lot of them were design aspects and they all worked together to weave a very thrilling tale.

The only thing Oblivion was missing from all these brilliant inspirations was their thematic depth (okay, maybe not Independence Day!). Without saying too much, Oblivion contains many science fiction elements that link in to what I discussed last week in my review of The Host, specifically when I said that good science fiction has the “ability to create new emotional conflicts that push our human comprehension beyond our real life expectations“. Unfortunately, the film didn’t explore them to any actual depth when it had the opportunity so as to, I presume, not affect the blockbuster flow of the story. I understand why this decision was made, but I feel taking a little more time to focus on these emotional conflicts would have made for a very interesting philosophical side to the film. Certainly not a deal breaker, just a missed opportunity.

Acting wise, the film is acceptable. No Oscar roles here, Tom Cruise performs well as our main protagonist, as does Melissa Leo as the cold mission control operator for the team. I thought Riseborough’s performance as Victoria was a bit hit and miss, she sometimes came across to me as a bit lifeless, which I was hoping was deliberate for some kind of plot twist later, but sadly nothing came of it. But the two main actors carry the film together excellently, and they certainly keep to the ball rolling!

Oblivion won’t be winning any awards. The story is great, but not revolutionary. The writing is decent but nothing special. The acting is good but not memorable. Oblivion is basically just a good dystopian sci-fi story, one that I thoroughly enjoyed and thought about for a good while after leaving the cinema. I would recommend it to everybody; it may not be an Oscar film but it exceeded my expectations!

See you next time!

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