Movie Review: Oblivion

Visually, the film is stunning. Okay, the story is only competent but then again, what is the matter with competent? Do we always have to have superlative? No matter. The film was released on April 10, 2013 and I note its budget was $124 million. According to Box Office Mojo, the film has already grossed $164 million so there is little doubt that no matter what the critics say, the film has captured the interest of the public and is turning a profit.

60 years ago, an alien race, called the Scavs attacks the Earth. Earth wins but half the planet is destroyed. Everyone is evacuated to Titan, the largest of Saturn's moons. Tom Cruise is a drone maintenance technician. These battle drones are necessary to protect a series of "hydro-stations" which are sucking all the water from the oceans to be taken elsewhere for some unnamed purpose. Protection from what or from whom? Supposedly from the remaining Scavs who are running around trying to sabotage things.

It would seem that if the critics have taken exception to anything in the film, it's the weak plot. The number one complaint is that the ideas of the movie have been done before. Are there any original ideas out there? Some pundit is going to tie anything back to Shakespeare or the Greek classics or heck, some cave painting dating back ten thousand years. Yes, it's all been done before. There is nothing new under the sun.

Then what makes a good book like Asimov or Clarke stand out from the crowd? Because they did it well. Not only did they have good science, they had good stories even if one could argue the themes had appeared before. And here, I will say it again: a good movie needs a good story.

Joseph Kosinki
Joseph who? This gentleman's claim to fame is the director of the 2010 movie Tron:Legacy (my review). It is interesting to see the similarities between the two films: visually stunning, weak on plot. Although, I can't completely blame Joe on the Tron movie. After all, the original 1982 Tron movie was the same: visually stunning (for its time) but with a story only an 8-year old would find exciting. What a shame. Legacy was quite the eye candy. But then again, it takes some genius to come up with something like The Matrix which is not only a feast for the eyes, but a meat and potatoes helping for the brain. Once again, a good story trumps special effects but with The Matrix, you got it all. Wow.

It would seem Mr. Kosinki résumé lists numerous advertisements. (Check out his web site here) It is easy to see that this guy has a good eye for visuals. No wonder he was picked to Tron:Legacy and no wonder he was picked for Oblivion. The director is doing double duty here having authored the unpublished graphic novel upon which the movie is based. As I said, it is unpublished but I imagine somebody is going to want to cash it and will have it in the book stores at some point.

 

Final Word
I'm going to miss Roger Ebert. I would always read his reviews as I liked to hear his take on a film. With his knowledge of movies and insider knowledge of cast and crew, he would ofttimes turn up some hitherto nugget of information. But I am sure he wouldn't have given this film any more than two out of four stars.

Rotten Tomatoes currently shows the film's rating at 55%. Not so good. It's under the 60% limit so it is considered "rotten." Personally, I would label the film as okay but because of the visuals, I would add that it is reason enough to give it a look, if not at the cinema then I hope you have a good widescreen high definition TV when it comes out on DVD. I enjoy science fiction. This film is so visually appealing, I could forgive a lot but I have to reiterate that the story is not very solid. The film is already turning a profit and with Tom Cruise's star power, I'm sure the film will be in some measure a success. Wait. Make a profit? Is there another measure of success?

My final word is that if you're a diehard sci-fi fan or really love Tom Cruise, by all means see it. If not, there are others titles up on the marquee which would better merit your attention. If you wait less than two weeks, on May 3, 2013, there will be Iron Man 3 to tickle your fancy, already showing a rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes.

 
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References

Rotten Tomatoes: Oblivion: 55%
Visually striking but thinly scripted, Oblivion benefits greatly from its strong production values and an excellent performance from Tom Cruise.

Wikipedia: Oblivion (2013 film)
Oblivion is a 2013 American science fiction film co-written, produced and directed by Joseph Kosinski and based on his unpublished graphic novel of the same name edited by Radical Comics. It stars Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo, Zoë Bell, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. The film was initially scheduled for release on July 10, 2013. Since the 3D re-release of Jurassic Park was set for April 5, 2013, the US release date was moved back to April 19, 2013. According to Kosinski, Oblivion pays homage to science fiction films of the 1970s.

Wikipedia: Joseph Kosinski
Joseph Kosinski (born May 3, 1974) is an American television commercial and feature film director best known for his computer graphics and computer generated imagery work. He made his big-screen directorial debut with the Disney Digital 3-D science fiction film Tron: Legacy, the sequel to the 1982 film Tron. His previous work has primarily been with CGI related television commercials including the "Starry Night" commercial for Halo 3 and the award-winning "Mad World" commercial for Gears of War.

official web site: Joseph Kosinski
Under the section "Works", you will find examples of Kosinski's television commercials.

Published on Apr 12, 2013 by Snouty Pig
Oblivion 2013 Extensive Behind the Scenes Inside Look (21:03)
This extensive, behind the scenes, inside look features approximately 21 minutes of footage from "Oblivion" (2013).
 

2013-04-28

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