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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Tom Cruise
Olga Kurylenko
Andrea Riseborough
Morgan Freeman
Nicolaj Coster-Waldau.
Directors
Joseph Kosinski.
Screenwriters
Joseph Kosinski
Karl Gajdusek
Michael Arndt.
Running Time
126 minutes

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Oblivion
CRUIS-E


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Plot
In the future, Earth is attacked by an alien race and the surviving members of humanity taken to a new home. Jack (Cruise) and his wife Victoria (Riseborough) stay behind to protect machinery harvesting the planet’s resources, but Jack starts to suspect there is something amiss with his mission.


Review
Oblivion
In 2009, Joseph Kosinski was given a peach of a first-time directing gig, making a sequel to Tron with an enormous budget and effects department beyond the original’s most lurid electric dreams. Tron Legacy showed three things: 1) Kosinski was masterful at creating an entirely imagined world right down to the tiniest detail; 2) He liked big, Messianic plots and taking time to explore them; and 3) He was a lot better with scenery than people. With Oblivion, based on a comic book he wrote in 2005 but never published, Kosinski reasserts those first two points and only moderately improves on the third.

Oblivion has a crowded imagination and an empty heart. It blasts you with information in the opening few minutes. Before you've had time to finish chewing your first mouthful of popcorn we have learned that Earth was attacked by aliens in the late 21st century and its moon smashed to space rubble, causing earthquakes and floods that obliterated the population. Nuclear war followed, leaving the place a horrible mess, so most of humanity has left for a new home called Titan, and all that remains on Earth are the invaders, scattered in underground tribes, some huge water-processing thingums that are converting energy from the seas for Titan in some way, and Jack and Victoria, a couple played by Tom Cruise and Andrea Riseborough. Day in, day out, they guard the equipment, all alone on Earth in a condo in the clouds, full of hard, shiny surfaces that suggest that in the decades ahead, comfort will become deeply unfashionable. Their only contact besides each other is with their prickly contact (Melissa Leo) on a giant monolith that acts as a relay between humanity’s old and new homes.

After this initial onslaught of information, the brakes are pulled on and Kosinski takes his time exploring his world, which, given the wonderful art direction, is a curiously calming, absorbing fantasy travelogue. Jack pootles about fixing drones — spherical security guards that look like HAL’s robo-dog and make a noise like a grumpy Speak & Spell — and taking quiet time in a lodge by a lake. It feels real, partly due to being shot on actual locations, primarily in Iceland, rather than via green-screen. There’s a bit of Mad Max to this stretch of a man just surviving in a thankless world, and these scenes, in which very little actually happens, are actually more enticing than the time after the film decides to pile on the plot. Jack finds a mysterious woman (Olga Kurylenko), whom he knows from his dreams, and some hidden humans (led by Morgan Freeman), and it becomes a puzzle of who knows what, who doesn’t actually know what they think they know, and what the things are that may or may not in fact know the things they think they know. For all its convolution, Kosinski actually lays his plot out rather smoothly. Its twists all have twists, but not to the point that they’re difficult to follow, and the ending is at once complex and neat, like the centre of a spider’s web. It is a fine story. Yet it’s so hard to invest in it, because the characters are so flimsy.

As with Tron Legacy, there is the sense that Kosinski considers his characters merely tools for getting him to a big reveal. He doesn’t seem interested in exploring the people, but using them to explore a grand idea. That’s not always a bad thing. There are plenty of sci-fi movies that hinge on you caring what odd thing is going to happen rather than about the people it’s happening to, an obvious example being 2001: A Space Odyssey, which is referenced several times here. But that’s not really the sort of film this is. Its big moments centre on relationships and love, and the primary themes are humanity and identity, yet the characters aren’t burdened with either. Cruise is an actor so famous that he will always be fighting to disappear behind a role, but Jack is, more than most, just a ‘Tom Cruise role’. He doesn’t have any personality separate from the man playing him. Riseborough is the only one who really comes off as a complete person, which is all the greater achievement given that hers is the character who is, on paper, the least significant. She gives a sad, trapped performance that lends some humanity to this desolate world.

On one level, Oblivion is a strong sci-fi riddle boldly staged, yet that’s only half its ambition. As a story of a man struggling with his place in the world and with the power of love to conquer all, it’s as dry and crumbly as its nuked landscape.


Verdict
Kosinski has again built a fantasy world that feels real to its core, but once more put most effort into the scenery and too little into the people.


Reviewed by Olly Richards

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Oblivion
Empire Star Rating

RE: Oblivion - Review

Oblivion borrowed (stole?) so many material from other movies, it was not funny anymore. SPOILERS AHEAD People are lied about leaving their area is dangerous, and are promised to go to a better place (the TET)? >that's the Island A guy working (almost) alone to maintain a station finds out he has clones ready to replace him if he goes rogue, with his employers ready to kill him for that? >that's Moon Our hero is afflicted by strange dreams/visions of a place/time he's no... More

Posted by BecauseImBatman at 20:57, 02 February 2014 | Report This Post


Better ending than 2001: A Spce Odyssey

Oblivion is a wide canvas story just as Antony And Cleopatra is a Shakespearean wide canvas. It is also a love story as well (with a different ending to A&C thankfully). The Oblivion narrative is superior to 2001: A Space Odyssey. This film is best appreciated by switching on the DVD subtitles and making the effort to learn the background information before switching off the subtitles and watching again. Do not miss the opening credits. Do not miss the end credits (for the terrific rock ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Staffordshire at 15:27, 27 November 2013 | Report This Post


Wide Canvas

This is a wide canvas story just as Antony And Cleopatra is a Shakespearean wide canvas. It is also a love story as well. This film is best appreciated by switching on the subtitles and making the effort to learn the background information before switching off the subtitles and watching again. I enjoyed this but then again I am not fanatical about movies. Good effort. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Staffordshire at 11:55, 22 November 2013 | Report This Post


CRUISE CONTROL......

This is worth watching....but loses a star due to a COMPLETE lack of originality. Gorgeous looking SFX and much better than Tron Legacy - but fundamentally - it's just a case of spot the movie references....Matrix Revolutions, Total Recall, Moon, Independence Day etc, etc......THREE STARS ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ROTGUT at 16:50, 01 November 2013 | Report This Post


very very boring ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by fowler100 at 10:30, 23 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Oblivion

finally saw it and i have to say im ] disappointed......that i didnt see it at the cinema!! wow what a great movie. i take back my 1st comment (should never judge b4 seeing it yourself) solid **** stars for me. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jackcarter at 14:58, 22 September 2013 | Report This Post


The most satisfying and uplifting ending since IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE...

SPOILERS: Leo getting blown up by a nuke. ... More

Posted by directorscut at 22:20, 24 August 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Oblivion

ely derivative stuff, but I have to say that I actually really quite enjoyed it. y thoughts exactly. Great score, great design and some brilliant action sequences. ... More

Posted by UTB at 21:22, 24 August 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Oblivion

Grey, bland and uninvolving, a waste of good art design and somehow even more lifeless than Tron Legacy. Squandered the material through poor story telling and dead performances. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by rich at 15:15, 24 August 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Oblivion

Thanks to your 3 Star rating (and less than awesome reviews) I watched Oblivion with low expectations and consequently enjoyed it immensely; happily munching away through 1000's of calories worth of naughty movie nibbles. Atmospheric, good effects, just the right level of creepy and just when I thought I'd predicted all the twists another one would pop up and slap me in the food covered chops. It is "Good" and I'd recommend watching on Pay Per View. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ryan_D_Bell at 16:28, 23 August 2013 | Report This Post


I wonder if I saw the same film, because I thought this was one of the best films in the last few years I have watched. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Magnet at 23:48, 14 August 2013 | Report This Post


crap

So, he jettisoned the back of the spacecraft which had the flight recorder in it.. and yet the flight recorder recorded what happened afterwards? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chris wootton at 10:34, 05 August 2013 | Report This Post


Oblivion

http://filmfanboy.com/oblivion/ 0 What strikes you initially about Oblivion are the locations much of it was filmed in Iceland. But it’s difficult to distinguish Iceland from the CGI effects. What Kosinski his production designer Darren Gilford and Shot by Claudio Miranda of Life of Pi, have recreated is stunning. Visually the film is worth the price of admission; it’s a tour de force of location and CGI. The film has Tom Cruise a fine actor whose attachmen... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Conboy at 15:12, 08 June 2013 | Report This Post


Cinema for the big screen

It's actually really good. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Normal Control at 14:36, 07 May 2013 | Report This Post


There is nothing to really hate, yet nothing to really love.

Oblivion spends time trying to tell a story that turns out to not matter as greatly as first perceived. Honestly, it's Tom Cruise's films from start to finish, leaving Morgan Freeman and his 'Rebels' hidden away for most of the film, very much a grave error. There could have been more exploration that would have gave the film the love it really should have deserved. In the department of Special Effects I was astounded by the pretty looks that the film delivers, making wastelands look almost pict... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by irving1994 at 22:41, 01 May 2013 | Report This Post


Almost great!

First the negatives: 1) A ridiculously muddled ending missing three better opportunities to finisih on a high. 2) a massively under-used Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and a mis-cast Morgan Freeman and 3) Character development is somewhat lost on the director. Fortunately none of this distracts enough to spoil a wonderful piece of Sci-fi. If Kosinski can't Develop characters he sure can score a film, emotion pouring out of every electo synthesised beat. Cruise is as reliable as ever in the lead role, but... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Jack Ryan at 09:37, 28 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Cruise's 'Oblivion' delivers...just!

L: earlquacker This was a good film. who plays the lead (Tom Jones) real. If he isn't really an Astronought then he is a really great actor. The sets are A MA ZING. I don't know if they filmed this on Mars or Pluto but it looks somewhere like that. How do they breathe while shooting? I guess thats why these films cost so much.. The film was far two short, I watched it for 25 minutes and then had to go to the bogs, I wasn't that long but by the time I had queued for some ice crea... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cool Breeze at 14:21, 26 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Oblivion - Review

disappointed about this movie. old fashion story , predictable but boring :( ... More

Posted by rassen at 06:45, 26 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Good.

L: Filmfan 2 L: Axel Foley L: Filmfan 2 Supremely derivative stuff, but I have to say that I actually really quite enjoyed it. Glad to hear so dude. It has the makings of a guilty pleasure for sure. ote] If you haven't seen it, wait until you get to the final part of the movie. It borrows so heavily from one particular sci-fi movie that it took my breath away. it is more or less exactly the same. Although in fairness that type of heroic sacrifice had been done before... More

Posted by Axel Foley at 17:26, 25 April 2013 | Report This Post


Oblivion - Review

The main beauty of this film is definitely the CGI. Kosinski creates a brilliant post-apocalyptic world which is visually stunning and makes for some fantastic special effects and cinematography. However, although visually stunning this film's speed can leave the audience disappointed. Within the first 5 minutes we are bombarded with the back story to the film and quickly it begins to escalate into a Sci Fi Action. However as it does the brakes are hit and suddenly slowed into a more heart felt ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JRutherford at 13:28, 25 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Good.

L: Axel Foley L: Filmfan 2 Supremely derivative stuff, but I have to say that I actually really quite enjoyed it. Glad to hear so dude. It has the makings of a guilty pleasure for sure. ote] If you haven't seen it, wait until you get to the final part of the movie. It borrows so heavily from one particular sci-fi movie that it took my breath away. ... More

Posted by Filmfan 2 at 11:30, 24 April 2013 | Report This Post


Film of 2 halves

I think the Empire review is pretty much spot on here. The film looks absolutely amazing. Great special effects but it looks real as opposed to CGI. Even the helicopter thingy that Mr Cruise flies about in looks real whilst being futuristic (the bike looks a bit naff though!!). But it kind of veers off in a different direction about mid-way and, although still an enjoyable film overall, I can't help feeling that it could have been much better. Good performances in general with Cruise doing what ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by trueborndjross at 09:07, 24 April 2013 | Report This Post


Film of 2 halves

I think the Empire review is pretty much spot on here. The film looks absolutely amazing. Great special effects but it looks real as opposed to CGI. Even the helicopter thingy that Mr Cruise flies about in looks real whilst being futuristic (the bike looks a bit naff though!!). But it kind of veers off in a different direction about mid-way and, although still an enjoyable film overall, I can't help feeling that it could have been much better. Good performances in general with Cruise doing what ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by trueborndjross at 09:07, 24 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Good.

L: Filmfan 2 Supremely derivative stuff, but I have to say that I actually really quite enjoyed it. sp; Glad to hear so dude. It has the makings of a guilty pleasure for sure. ... More

Posted by Axel Foley at 17:59, 23 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Good.

Supremely derivative stuff, but I have to say that I actually really quite enjoyed it. ... More

Posted by Filmfan 2 at 14:38, 23 April 2013 | Report This Post


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