PG Cooper: Oblivion Review

Posted: April 22, 2013 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

oblivion-poster-tom-cruise-morgan-freemanOblivion is the first of at least three science fiction films this year dealing with a future where the Earth is a shithole. An interesting trend and I wonder why it’s popping up so much lately. This is also the second film from director Joseph Kosinski, the man who helmed 2010’s Tron: Legacy. Personally, I thought that film was over bashed and I had fun with it despite its numerous (and obvious) shortcomings so I was curious to see what he’d do next. That project is a science-fiction film based on a comic he had worked on a few years earlier.

The film opens on Earth and we meet the protagonist Jack Harper (Tom Cruise). We learn that it’s the future and humanity has ended a war with an alien force. But the war has devastated Earth and humans have moved on to a space station. Harper remains to work on gathering resources, with the help of his lover Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), who monitors Harper on his field work. The work however is disrupted by a combination of alien attacks and the appearance of a new human, the mysterious Julia (Olga Kurylenko).

Though Oblivion is based on a work created by the director himself, I don’t think I’d call this a very original film. Several similarities can be noted to other science fiction films, from 2001: A Space Odyssey to Planet of the Apes to The Matrix. Most of the nods don’t hurt the film and are actually fun to notice. The real problem is there is one science fiction film Oblivion is strikingly similar to. I want so the name of the aforementioned film because that would spoil most of Oblivion, but I will say I find the two similar from the moment Oblivion started and most of its twists are virtually the same as the “other film”. This does give the film a solid story since it’s ripping off a good film, but it also sucks away the surprises. My issues with the script don’t end there however. Outside of the main protagonist, the characters aren’t very well developed and the dialogue is really bad, which is surprising considering William Monahan (who wrote The Departed) and Michael Arndt (who wrote Little Miss Sunshine and Toy Story 3) did a rewrite of this script. The film also has a tendency to dump exposition on the audience despite the film’s story and visuals, the whole thing feels rather small scale.

One of the most memorable elements of Kosinski’s Tron was the score by Daft Punk. For Oblivion, Kosinski has once again employed a hip electronic group to compose the score in the form of M83. The score they’ve put together is pretty good too. It’s very reminiscent to Han Zimmer’s work on The Dark Knight trilogy and it works very well. It’s not on the same level as what Daft Punk did for Tron: Legacy, but it’s still very enjoyable. The film also has some very impressive visual effects and designs which are cool and look actually look practical to some extent. But what really saves the film are the action scenes. The action here is badass and a ton of fun. The star of the action scenes are these robotic drones with machine guns attached. The effects on them are great and they make for an interesting action scene. An aerial dog fight and the final shootout are particularly fun.

Oblivion more or less falls in line with Tron: Legacy, in fact I might like Kosinski’s debut film more. Oblivion has a more solid story, but Tron had a better score, better visuals, and was in general a lot more fun. Plus a major reason Oblivion’s story has less holes is because it steals from a great source. Still, Oblivion is an entertaining film and while its story is highly derivative, it also makes the film more interesting than it likely would have been otherwise. The visuals are impressive, the sci-fi nods were fun, and the action awesome, and overall I think this film will be far more memorable than something like Olympus Has Fallen. Definitely not great, but if you’re looking for a fun movie to pass the time with, this will do it, and the effects and action make a big screen viewing worthwhile.

B-

Comments
  1. CMrok93 says:

    Good review PG. The epic scope of this flick cannot be denied, but it’s taste for originality can and definitely is.

  2. Mr Rumsey says:

    I just got back from seeing this and will write up a review soon, but we are pretty much in agreement though. It was better than I thought it would be considering how negative some of the reviews around have been. Nice write up!

  3. brikhaus says:

    Your review seems to be in line with pretty much everyone else. So, is this a watch at the second-run theater, or is it a wait until Netflix?

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