Inspired by 1970’s Sci-FI films, as well as his unpublished graphic novel, Joseph Kosinski’s ‘OBLIVION’, has Tom Cruise harvesting resources from a fallen Earth for a new planet for the Human race to live on after an alien invasion. Andrea Riseborough, Olga Kurylenko and Morgan Freeman co-star.
Straight away the first thing which hits you after viewing ‘Oblivion’, is how it uses the narrative and visual beats of Kosinski’s first film of ‘Tron: Legacy’. It is clear he has an incredible eye for detail, and is able to deliver incredible scenery on a big Hollywood budget. But it is also clear that there are many narrative beats of that as well. This includes the Monomyth characters and Messianic plot. But the big comparison is how he Kosinski uses his characters merely as tools for getting to a big reveal (which does come). Now this isn’t the biggest issue, Kurbrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ (and several others) do the same, but the issues with ‘Oblivion’ (and again same with ‘Tron: Legacy’), is that it really isn’t that type of grand film it clearly thinks it is. When this big reveal which centres on relationships, love, humanity and identity comes it just doesn’t work. This is because the characters in this film come off without any humanity and really without any identity. This is something these bigger iconic Sci-Fi picture did, and it is something which I thought (clearly a devotee to Sci-Fi) Kosinski would have done.
Performance wise Tom Cruise is fine. It nice to see him in a Sci-Fi film again, it’s just a shame he isn’t given enough material to make something more of this role. Andrea Riseborough is great though. Not only do you care about her moral dilemma more than Cruise’s and Kurylenko’s characters, she is the only one to ever really seem a complete person, but you can tell that more her acting prowess adapting something of a half wrote piece of paper. Morgan Freeman also has a extended cameo.
For its target audience it might do, even if towards the end it does try and take too much on. There is some good senses of isolation here and a ‘Mad Max’-vide which I like a lot. M83 do the soundtrack thing which Daft Punk did for ‘Tron: Legacy’. The thing is with ‘Oblivion’ the story and ideas are there and as a graphic novel I can imagine at time the point A to B plotting might have worked better in that medium. That and if this was a 1 hour television drama it might come off a little more respectful. In short not terrible if you know what you’re getting yourself into, but not as good as what it should be. Still there is incredible detail in the sets and fantasy world build, but if only Kosinski put just amount of effort into the characters too.