Oblivion (Movie Review) – A retro rocky score and some gorgeous cinematography make latest sci-fi film not suck

Oblivion. (2013). Run Time: 126 minutes. MPAA: PG-13 (for sci-fi action violence, brief strong language, and some sensuality/nudity). Starring: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Andrea Riseborough, Olga Kurylenko, and Melissa Leo. Written by Joseph Kosinski, Karl Gagdusek, and Michael Arndt. Directed by Joseph Kosinski.

If you’ve ever seen Alien, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Wall-E, Moon, or any other sci-fi movie whose plot plays along the lines of those mentioned, then believe me, you’ve already seen Oblivion. It’s #1 at the box office this weekend, and rightly so, given that no other important movie was released. Maybe it’s just because it features Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman. Or maybe some people thought this looked like the most original science fiction movie in years. Probably the former was the case. Oh well. Either way, I’m not really complaining, because even though Oblivion suffers mainly from its lack of originality, I still had quite a bit of fun with it.

Superstar Tom Cruise plays Jack Harper, a man who is paired with Victoria (Andrea Rise borough), his lover. The two of them are the “mop up crew,” which means they go down to a desolate earth and repair the drones that are responsible for searching the surface for any sign of the aliens that ravaged the planet some years ago. There are a few twists and turns, none of which are unpredictable, but they still serve as the molding of an entertaining story. I am a huge science fiction movie fan, and some of the favorites are Alien, Aliens, Prometheus, The Matrix, Inception, Moon, District 9, and even though I don’t love the film itself, I think the premise behind In Time is one of the most intriguing premises in years. However, as the truth must be told, Oblivion mashes all of them together in a kind of spectacular yet kind of lousy fashion.

As far as the look and feel of the film, they are immaculate. This is without a doubt the best looking movie I’ve seen all year, even topping the gorgeous visuals of Oz in Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful. Director Joseph Kosinski resembles pretty much exactly what he did with Tron: Legacy: kind of lousy storytelling but stunning visual effects. The dreary atmosphere of this movie is impossible to turn away from, and the shots of ruin left behind on earth is nothing short of spectacular.  I will remember the shots of the once was Pentagon, Washington Monument, and Empire State Building for a very long time. Along the same lines is the musical score by M.8.3. Being a sort of retro rocky beat thudding consistency, it really draws you in and will leave you smiling because of the perfection it has with the scenes it plays alongside. Also among the pros for this film is the performance of Tom Cruise, as always. He is without a doubt one of my favorite actors and he gives another good performance here. He doesn’t offer anything special or new, and he certainly isn’t as good as he has been in his better movies like, say, Rain Man, Jerry Maguire, Collateral, or even last year’s Jack Reacher, but Cruise will drive you and trust me, you’ll enjoy yourself. As far as Morgan Freeman goes, what else can be said? The guy is freaking awesome. He averages around twenty movies a year, right? A little extensive? Oh well. He is in a lot of movies. I must say though I liked him better in Olympus Has Fallen than in Oblivion, but for what amount of screen time he has (and it isn’t a lot) he does awesome things. Andrea Riseborough and Olga Kurylenko play some important supporting roles, and while once again they don’t offer anything to applaud over, they do just enough to balance the movie out.

As previously stated, the main problem I had with this movie was its lack of originality. There were twists, yes. But the only problem was, thanks to my watching of movies like Moon, I saw them coming scenes away. That is unfortunate given the talent involved. Not enough to give the film a negative grade, but enough to make you say, “Really?”

FINAL VERDICT: Unlike In Time, which offered an original sci-fi concept, and Inception, which changed the way people view sci-fi movies in general, Oblivion is a modern day science fiction flick that is about as predictable as they come. If you can look over the fact that it’s unoriginal and you can see every twist coming a mile away, you will probably enjoy yourself in this film, which benefits greatly from the pulse pounding score from M.8.3 and the visual effects which make this film the best looking movie I’ve seen all year. I would say it’s worth a watch. (B-)


  1. Nice review Ben. Not a great movie, but not terrible either. Just a rather dull experience that shows you nothing new you haven’t already seen before.

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