Thursday, April 25, 2013

Film Review: Joseph Kosinski's Oblivion

Say what you want about Thomas Cruise Mapother IV, better known as Tom Cruise.  Be it oddball Scientologist, loony egomaniac, self-centered media whore, or just plain and simple, a bad actor.  Say what you will, but one thing is for certain, no matter the odds, Cruise's characters will fight to the death - and sometimes beyond - to rescue the damsel in distress or maybe even save the whole freakin' planet.  In this way, Tom Cruise will not let you down, and that is certainly the case in Oblivion.  Weather his heroic character - always running, running, running, though here doing said running via space ships and futuristic motorcycles - actually succeeds in rescuing the damsel in distress, or whether he manages to save the planet from evil other-worlders, I will not say - but it is Tom Cruise after all, so an easy assumption can be made - but he will do his damndest, his Tom Cruiseiest, to do exactly that.

The story of Oblivion is simple, even if it tries to be convoluted for convolution's sake.  We meet our hero, I mean, Jack Harper, who is a technician on a dying Earth, about sixty years after the world fell to alien invaders.  As for backstory, sixty years ago, aliens destroyed our moon, which caused catastrophic earthquakes and tidal waves, followed by an all-out invasion.  We won the war, but in the process, the planet was destroyed by nuclear battle and fall-out.  Jack, along with his communications officer-cum-lover (she's the only game in town, as is he) Victoria, played by English actress Andrea Riseborough, is saddled with the job of guarding the few left vestiges of civilization - ie, the giant machines sucking what is left of Earth's water onto a space station hovering above - from the roaming bands of rebel aliens, until they too can make their way to the rest of Earth's survivors, now supposedly happily roaming around Saturn's largest moon, Titan. 

Of course, as always, there is more than meets the eye here.  Most of the surprise twists and turns - one of which is ridiculously revealed in the trailer - can be seen coming a mile away, but that doesn't stop the film from being a fun adventure romp.  Something akin to the slew of sci-fi films from the 1970's - films like Westworld and Soylant Green or even the Planet of the Apes series - Oblivion keeps the action going, keeps the tension going, keeps the entertainment going, even if it is a rather shallow entertainment, a rather obvious tension, a rather expectant action.   Maybe not a great film, nor is it actually as good as any of those I just compared it too, but it is quite stunning to look at (courtesy of Life of Pi's Oscar winning cinematographer, Claudio Miranda), and it is full of great fun, and a lot of that great fun has to do with the oft-maligned hero figure known as Mr. Tom Cruise.  Keep runnin' Tom, keep runnin'.


Candice Frederick said...

i really love tom cruise, actually. but this movie didn't do much but confuse me. it started off intriguing, and spiraled completely off the rails.

Dan O. said...

Good review Kevyn. It's the same type of sci-fi flick you've seen done a hundred times before, except this time: it has Tom Cruise. That's about it, really.