- Released Internationally on 10/04/13
- Released in Malta by KRS on 24/04/13
Preview (first published 01/04/13 in VIDA Magazine)
Oblivion hasn’t been released anywhere yet, so it’s hard to gauge whether it lives up to expectations or not. Expectations are understandably high, however, since it looks like a smart, futuristic action thriller and it stars Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman.
Set 60 years in the future, the post-apocalyptic backdrop is apparently the result of a huge war which resulted in the destruction of most of our planet. Although the war was won, everyone had to be evacuated. All that remains is a few individuals who keep the planet secure and maintain all the drones. So it’s a sort of Wall-E-type scenario, although instead of a cute little robot we have Tom Cruise looking serious despite his tight white outfit.
Of course, things are not all as they seem, and shortly before his shift on earth is about to end, he uncovers an underground community of humans, led by a grungy-looking Morgan Freeman. They try to enlighten him, and he starts to question the political manoeuvres behind the current situation, and whether all is as it seems on desolate planet Earth.
The film is the second directorial effort by Joseph Kosinski, who was at the helm of Tron: Legacy, and it is based on the graphic novel he wrote. To help him polish the screenplay, they roped in Michael Arndt, who was previously slightly famous for writing Little Miss Sunshine and Toy Story 3, but who is currently the man entrusted with the behemoth task of writing Star Wars: Episode VII. The film also stars Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace), Melissa Leo (The Fighter), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones) and Zoë Bell (Death Proof).
3-word review: Quite cool overall.
Oblivion looks great from start to finish, and during the main titles manages to convincingly ‘sell’ us the post-apocalyptic world it is based in, with impressive and beautiful shots of a desolated Earth, in which Jack (Tom Cruise’s character) is a very isolated maintenance guy. The scenery is even more notable as it is showcased in broad daylight, largely avoiding the visual effects tricks of clouding scenes in shadows. The main title sequence sounds great too, although it’s a bit too similar to Tron: Legacy, which was the director’s previous project.
The plot, although engaging on a human and technological level, doesn’t try to be too original, and feels like a healthy mix of many previous science-fiction landmarks - anything from 2001 to the above-mentioned Wall-E, with an overall coating of the classic ‘man reaching the end of his mission’ plot device. The settings are a mix of spotless, white, designer space-stations and vehicles, and the grungy, Tatooine-like dirt of the underworld down below. Sitting up in the spotless control centre is Jack’s supervisor, partner and lover, who for some reason insists on wearing lovely dresses and high heels even though she sits at a screen all day. Back at the orbiting mothership, everyone is happy about what a great team they make.
As is usually the case in these sort of films, Jack stands out because he is curious about the past, and this stems from a series of dreams and flashbacks that he can’t shake off. One hour in, we hear the instantly recognizable voice of Morgan Freeman, and Jack’s journey of discovery gets the necessary catalyst for him to defy orders and seek the truth. To go into too many plot details would be a disservice to the filmmakers, but suffice to say that there’s a reasonable amount of human drama for an effects-driven film, and not since Moon a few years ago have I enjoyed a stand-alone science fiction film so much. The sheer scale of the finale is also impressive, with some Independence Day influences making a welcome appearance. The epilogue is a slight cop-out, where in my humble opinion the script loses the chances to be truly different, but otherwise I found this to be highly enjoyable, irrespective of whether it is a Tom Cruise ego-trip or not.