Oblivion, my review.

Posted: August 20, 2013 in Gossip/News/Reviews - Film

Here is my review of “Oblivion” which I saw Last night (Released at cinema on 19th April 2013).  Please don’t read if you have not seen the film, spoiler alert.

Oblivion is post-apocalyptic science fiction film based on Joseph Kosinski’s Radical Comics-edited unpublished graphic novel of the same name. In the year 2077, Tech 49 Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is one of the last drone repairmen stationed on Earth. According to Jack, the planet was nearly destroyed sixty years earlier, during a war against a race of alien invaders known as Scavengers (“Scavs”). The Scavs destroyed the moon, causing massive earthquakes and tsunamis, and then launched their invasion. They were only defeated by the use of nuclear weapons, which left most of the planet irradiated and uninhabitable.

The few surviving humans migrated to a colony on Titan, which is powered using energy harvested on Earth by giant ocean-borne power stations that generate fusion power from seawater. From Tower 49, a base standing above the remains of the northeastern United States, Jack and his partner and lover Victoria “Vika” Olsen (Andrea Riseborough) work as a team to maintain the autonomous drones that defend the power stations from the few remaining Scav bandits. They receive their orders from Sally (Melissa Leo), their mission commander, who is stationed on the “Tet,” a massive tetrahedral space station that orbits the Earth. Jack flies recon and repair missions to the surface, while Vika supervises from Tower 49. The two expect to leave Earth and join the other survivors on Titan in two weeks. Although Jack and Vika had their memories wiped five years prior for security purposes, Jack has recurring dreams about meeting a mysterious woman at the Empire State Building in a time before the war, which occurred before he was born. Additionally, Jack keeps a secret retreat in a forested area he sometimes visits.

A Scav signal beacon transmitting coordinates is followed shortly by the crash of a pre-invasion American spacecraft. Drones arrive at the crash site and kill much of the crew, but Jack manages to rescue a woman, Julia (Olga Kurylenko), recognizing her as the woman from his dreams. Julia says her ship—the Odyssey—was a NASA  mission, the objective of which she refuses to reveal, and she and Jack retrieve the ship’s flight recorder. They are captured by Scavs, who are revealed to be humans living in what remains of the Raven Rock Mountain Complex. Their leader, Malcolm Beech (Morgan Freeman), claims that the alien invasion was a lie and demands Jack to reprogram a captured drone to destroy the Tet by delivering an extremely powerful nuclear weapon. When Jack refuses, Malcolm releases the captives but urges them to seek the truth in the so-called “radiation zone” that Jack is forbidden to enter.

They encounter another Jack known as Tech 52 and the truth is that the Tet is in fact an alien artificial intelligence that seized Earth to exploit the planet’s resources, and Jack and Victoria are just two of many thousands of clones of their original versions (astronauts from 2017) that were created as soldiers to carry out the invasion of Earth. The Tet uses drones programmed to kill humans on sight, thus forcing the survivors to disguise themselves as the Scavs. The Tet now uses clones of Harper and Olsen to maintain the drones and thereby maintain its dominance. Jack agrees to reprogram the stolen drone to destroy the Tet. When leaving the underground stronghold with the reprogrammed drone, they are attacked by three other drones. The drones enter the base and wreak havoc inside, destroying the reprogrammed drone and wounding Beech in the process. The humans finally manage to destroy the three drones, but are forced to find another way to deliver the nuclear bomb to the Tet. Jack proposes delivering the bomb himself. To throw off suspicion, Julia suggests that she accompanies Jack, since Sally had requested him to bring her to the Tet.

During the flight, Jack listens to the Odyssey’s flight recorder, which reveals that he and Victoria were originally pilots on the Odyssey mission to Titan, which was reassigned by NASA when the Tet was discovered near Saturn. Sally was their supervisor at NASA mission control, with other personnel, including Julia, on board in cryogenic capsules. Upon approach, the Tet drew them in with a tractor beam. Recognizing that capture was imminent, Jack was able to jettison the sleeping crew members, who orbited for sixty years in suspended animation until Beech sent the signal to recall their craft.

Jack enters the Tet, where he is met by a sentient tetrahedral structure that had adopted the persona of Sally. Jack opens the sleep capsule to reveal Beech; Julia simultaneously emerges from another sleeping capsule at Jack’s secret forest retreat. The two men trigger the nuclear bomb and destroy the Tet at the cost of their own lives. The destruction of the Tet also deactivates the remaining drones around the world.

Three years later, Julia is living with her young daughter in the forest retreat on the recovering Earth. A group of survivors arrive there, and Tech 52 emerges from the group. A voice-over by Tech 52 reveals that his previous encounter had re-awakened memories of Julia, and he had searched for her since the Tet’s destruction. Having the same latent memories as Tech 49, he then reunites with “his” family

I have been looking forward to watching this for a while and must say I was rather disappointed at the outcome. Don’t get me wrong this was an ok film, it’s not bad but then again it’s not brilliant either.  The acting’s great, especially from Tom Cruise who is brilliant. The first 40 minutes concentrates on just two characters immersed in routine drudgery on a post-apocalyptic earth which is good but it’s a shame the 2nd half doesn’t build on this.  The mystery is enticing. But it never grabs you, and the effects, while efficient, lack a wow factor and sense of scale. But it feels as though something is missing but I am not sure what.  The problem is that the film seems to be stuck in 2nd gear. it’s watchable rather than jaw-droppingly exciting. You’re reminded of an old horror “B” movie where, for budgetary reasons, you only ever see one monster, while the actors gasp, “And there are thousands more… just over there… ” Sure, a good story is more important than flashy visuals, but sometimes flashy visuals can help sell a story.

What do you think?

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  1. Errol Martin says:

    This is a good honest review which I appreciate as I was going to spend two hours watching this film but now I think I’ll watch something else instead. Earth is a memory worth fighting for, says the caption for the film….. Maybe not!

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