Friday, October 4, 2013

Oblivion Movie Review

Right around the same time there were two very similar movies released. Oblivion (2013) and After Earth both featured a basically ruined planet Earth and features our hero investigating the planet that now holds untold dangers. For months I kept getting the two titles mixed up. Is Hollywood so desperate for ideas that movies with essentially the same concept are released simultaneously? Maybe I'll get around to reviewing After Earth one of these days, but for now let's talk about Oblivion.
Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is nearing the end of his mission. He and his partner, Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), work as a team to serve as security repairmen stationed on an evacuated Earth. Part of the massive operation is to extract vital resources after decades of war with a terrifying alien threat who still scavenges what's left of the planet. Jack repairs drones while Victoria communicates with Sally (Melissa Leo) at Mission Control. With only two weeks left until their assignment is complete, Jack and Victoria will soon join the lunar colony far from the war-torn world that Jack has long called home. Jack's stable and happy existence starts unraveling when a spaceship crash lands on Earth and he rescues an enigmatic stranger, Julia (Olga Kurylenko), from the wreckage. Her arrival triggers a chain of events that force him to question everything he knew. Jack and Julia find a small human resistance group lead by "Beech" (Morgan Freeman) who also have a surprising connection to Jack. With a reality that is shattered as he discovers shocking truths that connect him to the Earth of the past, the fate of humanity now rests solely in the hands of a man who believed our world was soon to be lost forever.
Oblivion has some stellar special effects. Not only were they highly detailed but they looked beautiful. Jack travels all over the planet and passes beautiful scenery that could only be artificially created with CGI work. There are ruined landmarks overgrown with vegetation, new and gorgeous landscapes that were a byproduct of earthquakes during the alien invasion, and other digitally created scenery that was positively stunning to view. The visuals don't simply serve to establish the setting, they are literally works of art. Jack and Victoria live on Tower 49, a home that hovers about 3000 feet above sea level in the sky. They don't just have a swimming pool to relax in, they have a clear swimming pool that they swim in and can see rolling storm clouds and lightning below them as they swim. The background details help develop the movie to a degree, but they are so gorgeously eye catching that they often upstage the characters and story that is going on in the foreground.
The story itself isn't bad. It's almost as if a grab-bag of sci-fi tropes were used to throw together a half-baked reason to showcase some beautiful visuals. But that's not to say that the story isn't good. Oblivion seems to draw inspiration from a lot of other sci-fi classics, such as Bladerunner, Total Recall, Star Wars, Wall-E, and War of the Worlds to name a few. Oblivion used these sci-fi tropes to tell a decent story, though not quite as well as when they were used in other movies. It's certainly a product of our age, though. Ideas like the end of the world, dwindling resources, questionable authority figures, and rising against the establishment are certainly verisimilar concepts that will likely appeal to a wide range of audiences.
The script was lacking in a few parts. It manages to tell the story well enough, but lacks refinement. When set against the beautiful visuals, the contrastingly simple script seemed lackluster. It got the point across but didn't have any truly powerful lines or thought provoking moments. Most of the plot twists weren't very big revelations and you could predict the ending ahead of time. The script remains interesting enough to be engaging, but there is hardly anything that will stick with you after the movie is over.
Oblivion is a decent sci-fi movie with a nice balance of action and plot. You've likely seen most of what this movie does already in other movies. Movie critic Richard Roeper made a great analogy by saying, "This is the sci-fi movie equivalent of a pretty damn good cover band."  That pretty accurately summarizes my view; it is pretty good, but others have done the same thing a bit better. I liked Oblivion and it is worth seeing, especially for the magnificent visual effects. But since it may not stay with you like the other sci-fi movies that inspired it, I have to say it's a renter.

What is your favorite post-apocalyptic, end of the world movie? Comment below and tell me why!

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