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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

Good.

Style over substance but such style... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by sephiroth7 at 14:00, 23 April 2013 | Report This Post


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

The world that director Joseph Kosinkski has created around the characters in his new film ‘Oblivion’ is vast. The broad, panoramic shots of a battle-scarred post-alien invaded earth give such a sense of space and beauty that you feel compelled to take a breath as you weave and glide over the rich terrain with our hero Jack in his white, Apple-esque spaceship. These dramatic and visually infinite panoramas make up a large part of the soul behind this film. For a while, as our man Jac... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by earlquacker at 08:52, 23 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Not for people with ADT...

After watching 3 things really stuck in my mind. I Am Legend. Moon. Independence Day. Massive disappointment !! ... More

Posted by Dirk Miggler at 21:01, 20 April 2013 | Report This Post


Not for people with ADT...

This was an excellent film that completely immersed me. Too many film sci-fi films (Transformers, Iron Man, et al) bombard you with action, pointless plots and vacuous characters. Popcorn sci-fi this is not. Oblivion tells a wonderful story, it takes its time and rewards you with stunning visuals. If you want instant gratification go see a generic sci-fi franchise or anything by Michael Bay. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Redback911 at 23:59, 19 April 2013 | Report This Post


Worst film I've seen for a long time

Saw this on Tuesday night at my local multiplex. The first movie to kick-start the 'summer of sci-fi' looked promising, but I was sorely disappointed. I had low expectations going in but even they couldn't be met. It's vaguely interesting for the first hour, but once the full plot is revealed its completely devoid of any originality or imagination and ends up playing through a series of slow, drawn out sequences that seem to take an age. By the end, 7 people had walked out of the cinema (wh... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ohmygoditssteve at 19:59, 18 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: sounds like....

L: Drooch I feel sorry for this film. It seems well-intentioned but it's little more than an exercise in aesthetics, 'borrowing' so blatantly from Moon, Wall-e, 2001, Independence Day, The Matrix and others, with no real conviction of its own. Derivative, bland and with flat characterisations. A shame because this was a chance for Hollywood to make an expensive sci-fi that, for once, wasn't a sequel or remake. Instead it's a massive rip-off fest. There are some decent action beats and ... More

Posted by thedrin at 16:12, 18 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Tom Cruise Always The Same? Huh?

I love post-apocalyptic and sci-fi genre films.With that being said I feel that Oblivion has some major issues, mostly concerning the lack of an original screenplay. My full review on my blog. http://niftyfilms.wordpress.com/ ... More

Posted by Nifty_Films at 11:28, 18 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Tom Cruise Always The Same? Huh?

A lot of my friends are asking to go see this movie. They want to know upfront if it worth going. Sounds like you peeps are giving it the ol' heave-ho! That's too bad, I was hoping for something entertaining. ... More

Posted by filmigos at 04:28, 18 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Oblivion

I found this vaguely dissatisfying, . The story itself is quite good, and the big twist is believable, but somehow there is no real emotional connection between actors and audience, or even between actor and actor. Special effects are as usual tremendous, as are the sets. I found I just didn't care who won - obvious really in a Cruise movie. Three stars is probably generous. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by GCH at 22:16, 17 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Derivative

I agree on Reznor - the stuff he has done with Fincher has been original and excellent. Fincher seems to bring that out from composers. Howard Shore's collaborations with him on Se7en and The Game were fantastic and the Dust Brothers score to Fight Club was one of the most exhilarating and appropriate of all.   I'd still say M83's scoring of Oblivion is good. Where it differs, in particular, to the media ventures style is that there is no recurring main theme. While I do enjoy Zimmer's... More

Posted by Axel Foley at 17:06, 17 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Derivative

L: Axel Foley Apart from one track at the beginning of the film (which was reminiscent of The Dark Knight) I didn’t hear anything that made me think of Zimmer or his Media Ventures acolytes. Try the title track for instance -  www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVeHScYOHhY feat. Susanne Sundfør). The synth, guitars and drum beats makes me think more of Tangerine Dream and Sundfør’s voice is stunning. Try some of the other tracks too (StarWaves, Raven Rock, Fearful Odds). bh, I didn't think... More

Posted by Deviation at 14:57, 16 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Derivative

Apart from one track at the beginning of the film (which was reminiscent of The Dark Knight) I didn’t hear anything that made me think of Zimmer or his Media Ventures acolytes.   Try the title track for instance -  www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVeHScYOHhY feat. Susanne Sundfør). The synth, guitars and drum beats makes me think more of Tangerine Dream and Sundfør’s voice is stunning. Try some of the other tracks too (StarWaves, Raven Rock, Fearful Odds). ... More

Posted by Axel Foley at 13:47, 16 April 2013 | Report This Post


3 STARS....

CRUISE IS AS GOOD AS EVER, GREAT ACTION SCENES, FANTASTIC SCENERY.... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chrisdagnall at 20:14, 15 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Derivative

Following an alien invasion 60 years earlier which nearly destroyed the Earth, former Marine commander Jack Harper is drone mechanic 49, one of the last few humans stationed on the planet. Jack lives in a tower standing thousands of feet above the Earth where he and his colleague Victoria are part of an operation to clean up the remaining forces of the invasion and extract the planet's remaining resources. They maintain contact with civilization via a video link with their commander, Sally, ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 18:52, 15 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Derivative

L: kirok1 As for comments in some reviews which state Freeman's character is a rip-off of Morbius, elements of The Matrix could be linked to a whole host of other stories. Matrix is more or less a re-make of Ghost in the Shell.   www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/oct/19/hollywood-ghost-in- the-shellp; Let’s be realistic: think of a great sci-fi film and it will probably have some elements that had been done before. Filmmakers of the 50s were influenced by the likes of Fritz Lang... More

Posted by Axel Foley at 17:51, 15 April 2013 | Report This Post


Mediocre yet beautiful and well acted

Full review online at my website http://killingfloorfilm.com/2013/04/14/review-oblivion/ ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by thearchitect at 00:44, 15 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: The least original sci-fi in history?

L: RyanShanks As much as I enjoyed Oblivion, I couldn't help but notice the astronomical debt it owes to the other (mostly superior) sci-fi pictures that provide almost every image and idea this film has to offer. I counted, among others whose titles currently escape me, The Matrix, WALL-E, Moon, 2001, Prometheus, Independence Day, I Am Legend, Attack The Block, Sunshine, Dune, War Of The Worlds, Serenity, Star Trek... There are more. Not that this is a true criticism, however. More an... More

Posted by Deviation at 20:38, 14 April 2013 | Report This Post


Derivative

Rich - hence my point. Ring world predates that, coming out in 1970. They're all derivative of something. Harry Potter rips off elements from everywhere. The Hunger Games from Battle Royale, which in itself could be said to have done the same from Lord of the Flies. All genres do it, yet the critics and others often seem to notice only when they view Sci Fi. I am not saying any of my comments were the originals, merely that it has always happened. As for comments in some reviews which state Fr... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by kirok1 at 20:35, 14 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Oblivion

L: paulyboy Pleasantly surprised by this, thoroughly enjoyed it. There's a computer game in particular that Oblivion reminds me off, but to name it would bring about massive spoilers for the film in doing so, so I won't. Needless to say the whole film riffs off dozens of other Sci-Fi from over the years as well. It looked fantastic, sounded incredible and had a genuinely satisfying/interesting conclusion to boot, really enjoyed it. If I had to pick holes, it's somewhat s... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Axel Foley at 19:33, 14 April 2013 | Report This Post


The least original sci-fi in history?

As much as I enjoyed Oblivion, I couldn't help but notice the astronomical debt it owes to the other (mostly superior) sci-fi pictures that provide almost every image and idea this film has to offer. I counted, among others whose titles currently escape me, The Matrix, WALL-E, Moon, 2001, Prometheus, Independence Day, I Am Legend, Attack The Block, Sunshine, Dune, War Of The Worlds, Serenity, Star Trek... There are more. Not that this is a true criticism, however. More an observation of how it i... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by RyanShanks at 18:23, 14 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Derivative?

L: kirok1 Elysium itself? Halo? erard O'Neill's book of Human Colonies In Space is from 1976. Completely off topic but this Halo comparison is really dumb and people need to stop making it. ... More

Posted by rich at 16:23, 14 April 2013 | Report This Post


Derivative?

In answer to the comments about derivative elements in the movie. Name me a Sci Fi movie that doesn't do this? Everything can be tracked to something else... The wonders of Pandora? Whole story lifted from Ferngully and all the equipment stolen from Halo. Elysium? Floating city in the sky for the rich and the poor below? The Cloud Minders - Star Trek http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cloud_Minders Elysium itself? Halo? Very little is original. If you're entertained, the film did it's job. Unl... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by kirok1 at 12:51, 14 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Unexpectedly Good

L: marclechef yes morgan freeman is a cliched rilliant typo. ... More

Posted by Darth Marenghi at 00:40, 14 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Tom Cruise Always The Same? Huh?

If Hell was envisioned by Steve Jobs... ... More

Posted by Hood_Man at 19:33, 13 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Tom Cruise Always The Same? Huh?

The awful exposition heavy intro had me worried, but in all honesty the film wasn't that bad. I think the 3 stars is a fair review. It was very derivative, but it was quite good fun and the cast was solid. A couple of flaws – it was lacking in originality and emotion. Also the characters behaved oddly merely to push the plot forward AND whether it was the fault of the writing or the movie trailers, there wasn't any twists or turns that you didn't see coming a mile away. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jmebaby25 at 19:22, 13 April 2013 | Report This Post


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