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Oblivion (2013)

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Score: 8/10

Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure Running Time: 2 hrs. 6 min.

Release Date: April 19th, 2013 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Joseph Kosinski Actors: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Melissa Leo, Zoe Bell

“O

blivion” is a competently made sci-fi action movie – something that can’t be said about the majority of the genre. Though many of the prominent futurism themes can be linked back to earlier films, and a few loose ends might not be tied up with the sturdiest of knots, the structure and plot twists keep the intrigue high while the action paces itself nicely alongside the unfolding mystery. Tom Cruise makes a compelling hero and the setup is a savvy blend of dystopian invention and amnesia-induced identity loss. The list of films “Oblivion” borrows from is a long one, but the concepts are all executed cleverly and proficiently, resulting in an epic space opus that presents far more moments of awe than head-scratching queries.

The year is 2077 and Earth has been left nearly uninhabitable after a brutal war against an invading alien species known as “Scavengers.” While the remnants of humanity have been gathered aboard the Tet, an enormous pyramidal space station that will eventually carry the survivors to a new home on one of Saturn’s moons, technician Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) and his partner Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) remain on Earth to monitor and perform maintenance on giant hydro-rigs and the protective, heavily armed robot drones that guard them. When a spaceship crash-lands nearby and Jack investigates, he rescues from the wreckage Julia (Olga Kurylenko), a mysterious woman whose appearance sets into motion the discovery of a massive conspiracy that will place the very fate of mankind in Jack’s hands.

“Oblivion” is heady, weighty, and cerebral science-fiction, foregoing the little green man angle for a much more sinister and complex alien incursion. In terms of postapocalyptic, futuristic thrillers, borrowing randomly from “The Road Warrior,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Moon,” “The Matrix,“ and “Total Recall,” it’s a highly ambitious and largely successful twist, toying with existential and deterministic viewpoints while smartly avoiding depressing bouts of violence or sacrifice. Its focus on altering or interfering with memories is augmented perfectly by the heavily synthesized soundtrack, itself lending to the dreamlike qualities of Jack’s remembrances. An engaging mystery, “Oblivion” forces viewers to wait nearly two hours before giving up any secrets; but to the film’s credit, the protracted anticipation is delightful. Mind-boggling and artistically visionary, the many answers it finally grapples with will probably raise further investigations into the various aspects less examined, but the climactic conclusion is pleasantly resolute – even if specific details can be rationalized with the term “gaping plot holes.”

An exemplary fit for IMAX screens, “Oblivion” boasts outstanding visuals that add tremendously to the scope of the project. Immense exterior shots and sets introduce the audience to a uniquely fascinating world, with unfriendly terrain, monumental wreckage, and obscured paradises. The interior designs are just as spectacular, though used much more sparingly. The obvious budget for special effects definitely helps establish and stabilize the pioneering perspective; visual wizardry occasionally substitutes for inchoate plot points. But perhaps most impressive of all is the origins of the story, starting as a graphic novel by Joseph Kosinski, who not only adapted it into a screenplay, but also produced and directed the movie. Not bad for a filmmaker whose only other directing credit is “TRON: Legacy.”

– The Massie Twins

 



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