Oblivion – film review

Movie poster for "Oblivion", starring Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman.
Movie poster for “Oblivion”, starring Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman.
Oblivion is a science fiction film directed by Joseph Kosinski and starring Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Morgan Freeman, and Andrea Riseborough. It is set in 2077, following an alien invasion in which humanity had to leave the Earth and settle on Titan. Cruise plays Jack Harper, who works with his partner Victoria (Riseborough) to maintain the rigs siphoning the Earth’s ocean water to take with them to Titan. Both of them had their memories wiped prior to coming back to Earth, as a security precaution to prevent the alien Scavs from using any memories to find where the humans went.

Cruise is in rare form, and does an excellent job growing and changing as the film progresses. Kurylenko, as Julia, and Freeman, as Malcolm, also do an excellent job, and I really got to care for their characters. I wasn’t as fond of Riseborough, but I think that’s how it was supposed to be. Overall, the film had only five characters who appeared for any length of time, so Kosinski did a great job moving the story along with very few characters to work with.

I really liked the overall feel of this film. The set designs for the towers were spectacular, especially so after I learned how they did the clouds and lighting throughout the day. To get the feel of actually being up that high, they filmed 360° views for several days and nights on top of a mountain, and then projected those views onto giant screens surrounding the tower sets. The effect is absolutely stunning.

The interaction between Jack and the drones, killing machines which protect the rigs from the alien “Scavs”, is also excellent, providing several tense moments when Jack has to convince the drones to stop what they are doing. The drones are designed well, and add to the believability of the film, while also providing some occasional comic relief.

I thought the plot moved along very well, and with only a few minor hiccups. The film, despite how the trailers might have portrayed it, is not an action flick. While there are several exciting action scenes as well as several shootouts, the main focus is on Jack’s journey as he learns more about his past and the flashbacks he keeps having. This gives us several spots where the film doesn’t really move along as well as it could have, but these are the only real pacing problems. The only other items which I thought detracted from the film were the very brief shower scene, where we see Riseborough from the waist up from the back, and the pool scene, where she is swimming au natural (though only seen from a distance).

Overall, I enjoyed Oblivion. It’s a smart film that doesn’t talk down to its audience, and tells an engaging story as well. While I generally am not a fan of Cruise, he did an excellent job in this film. Go see it!

Release Date: April 19, 2013 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13

MySF Rating: Four point zero stars
Family Friendliness: 65%

Content:

Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (drinking at a meal)
Language: 2 (mostly minor expletives, one f-bomb)
Nudity: 1 (brief shower scene, slightly-less brief pool scene)
Sexuality: 1 (above pool scene)
Violence: 3 (drones killing multiple people, gunfights, hand-to-hand fighting)

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