Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
The war was in the year of 2017.  They attacked, scabs they called them, and blew up our moon.  Not cool.  We kind of need the moon.  But we nuked the bejeebus out of those bastards, did what we had to do, and we won the war, but poisoned our planet in the process.  Now I'm thinking if some aliens have descended and have the technology to blow up our moon, something I'm not sure every nuke in our planet's arsenal could do, then I would believe that this massively powerful alien race could easily put down our meager defenses.  Oh well.  The name is of the movie is 'Oblivion', and it's… hmmm… two parts awesome, and two parts not very.

Say hello to total badass Jack Harper (Tom Cruise).  He narrates for us about what has happened in this year of 2077 or thereabouts.  The Earth is pretty much dead, contaminated, with the survivors dispatched to the Saturn moon of Titan which I assume has been terraformed to mimic the Earth.  There are these huge machines sucking out saltwater and sending it to Titan for energy and its Jacks job, along with his mate Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), to patrol their quadrant, keep these brutal robot sentinels that protect these machines upright, and look out for the scab creatures that are running the grounds and causing a ruckus.  Seems like a pretty sweet gig all things considered.  He gets to fly fancy machines, ride pimped out dirt bikes, shoot his space gun a lot, and Victoria and he were placed together to have sex with each other to help pass the time… what could be the problem?

One of the problems is that Jack dreams.  He often dreams of a pretty lady in early 20th century New York City.  Jack and Victoria's memories has been wiped, for security purposes, but Jack shouldn't have such vivid memories of 2013 New York since he wasn't even alive them.  Hmmm.  Then there's the mysterious figure in the badlands keeping an eye
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on Jack, but for what?  It doesn't matter much because in two weeks time Jack and Vicca's time one Earth will be up and they can go back home to Titan.  Vicca can't wait, Jack on the other hand feels like Earth is home and always will be home, even in its current state.

Then the pod crashes from space.  Jack investigates, against the orders of his NASA handler Sally (Melissa Leo), and in the wreckage he finds human lifepods, including one of the pretty lady he dreams about.  Odd.  Odder still is that those sentinel robots show up completely killing these humans, which they are not supposed to do.  Fortunately, Jack saves the pretty lady, Julia (Olga Kurylenko), but now things are getting a little weird.  Who is this lady?  Why is Jack dreaming of a woman who has been floating in space for the last sixty years?  Who is the old Black Dude (Morgan Freeman), the stranger in the distance, that has kidnapped Jack, telling him all kinds of things that can't possibly be true?  Something isn't quite right, but all will soon be revealed.

Directed by Joseph Kosinski, whose last movie was 'Tron: Legacy', which admittedly I really didn't care too much for, 'Oblivion' comes off much better if you were to ask me.  Similar to 'Tron' the film is a visual tour de force, but even more so because of the wide open spaces, spectacular CGI imagery which was even more impressive that what Tron delivered, and superior set design.  The narrative we're given is also handled well, though I had issues which I will delve into somewhat a little later, but the director strings us along, just enough to keep us engaged into what may or may not be happening on Earth at this time, until we're given the big reveal.  These are the parts of 'Oblivion' that are pretty awesome by the way, look and delivery.

Now this narrative, while delivered well, as it goes on and we begin to understand what is happening, it starts suffer from being a little too familiar.  A bit of 'The Matrix' here, a touch of 'Moon' there, a smidgen of 'A Space Odyssey' sprinkled in and a few more sci-fi classics added in for good measure.  This isn't deal breaker when it comes to 'Oblivion' as 'original' and 'sci-fi' are damn near impossible at this point, but it was a little disappointing as the story seemed to be reaching for something grander but settled for the also-ran. 

The performances also came off as a little forced.   Kosinski, a director with definite visual flair, appears to be not quite skilled enough to squeeze the necessary emotions out his actors.  True enough, Tom Cruise has been acting almost his whole life and probably shouldn't need any help pretending to be in love with Olga Kurylenko and Andrea Riseborough, but the magic wasn't there.  Tom Cruise running and shooting and punching and fighting and flying a space jet?  Not a lot better at this than my man Tom Cruise, and this movie is more of action film than an emotional drama, thank God, but the love story does play a large part of the narrative and Olga Kurylenko's sad eyes, soft shoulders and full lips can only carry us so far. 

But don't think I didn't enjoy my time spent with 'Oblivion', because while the dramatic elements were lacking, the visuals and the action were top notch.  And considering this is largely a science fiction action movie, we pretty much have put one in the win column for 'Oblivion'.
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