Welcome to Spling Movies

Welcome to Spling Movies

Custom Search
Movie Review: Oblivion

Tom Cruise has now done three science fiction films: Minority Report, War of the Worlds and Oblivion. The first two under blockbuster juggernaut, Steven Spielberg, were well-received with Philip K. Dick adaptation Minority Report winning approval from critics and audiences alike, with War of the Worlds making a less convincing case.

Oblivion, however, is a Joseph Kosinski film. While not nearly in the same league as Spielberg, Kosinski showed promise at the helm of Disney's recent remake/sequel of TRON: Legacy. So much promise that he was able to adapt what was originally intended as a graphic novel into sprawling sci-fi adventure, Oblivion.

TRON: Legacy was essentially a sound and lights show with a strong premise. As audio-visually impressive as it was, the script, story and characters lacked impetus - making it a matter of style over substance. Unfortunately, the same can be said for Oblivion. While we're treated to science-fiction eye candy of the same magnitude as I Am Legend and Dune, Oblivion fails to ignite its appealing and talented cast with depth of character and defined storytelling.

We're airdropped into a beautiful yet barren wasteland with Jack Harper (Cruise) as our scout leader. The drone technician patrols a quadrant relying on the help of Victoria (Riseborough), a dispatcher and home base colleague. Harper's real mission comes into sharp focus when a crashed pod containing precious cargo is scheduled to be terminated by his superiors.

You get the impression that Joseph Kosinski was shooting for Duncan Jones' Moon and landed among theTwilight stars instead. While the story is laden with potential, it flat lines... relying too heavily on its clinical atmosphere and surreal imagery instead of its capable cast and promising storyline. The languishing pacing and orientation is more Twilight than Vanilla Sky and the performances are stunted by two-dimensional characterisation.

What we have is a stagnant yet beautiful piece of science-fiction, which like its original graphic novel form, defaults to appearance. The CGI is excellent, really creating a world for the mystery to exist with drones that have a real sense of weight. The production design is also top-notch, delivering sleek minimalistic back drops with tokens from a forgotten age as a throwback to our time.

What starts with great promise in the vein of Pitch Black, slowly regurgitates a number of science-fiction themes from better films. The cold, clinical atmosphere is alienating, making Tom Cruise's typical steely disposition distant to robotic. Morgan Freeman's mere presence adds dramatic weight, but he's under-utilised. Then, while it's great to see fresh faces in Olga Kurylenko and Andrea Riseborough, their parts seem to embody the film's bias towards style over substance.

While Oblivion definitely looks and sounds like an epic science-fiction action-adventure, it's ultimately a disappointment. It relies on borrowed themes from films including: Moon, I Am Legend, Twilight, Vanilla Sky, Pitch Black, Dune with some echoes of Top Gun. Unfortunately, the continual focus on style over substance undermines the performances, limits the audience's emotional investment in the story and turns a two-hour science-fiction artwork into a visually-arresting yet dull and detached experience.

The bottom line: Thin