What’s this? A new sci-fi fantasy epic starring Tom Cruise? With a brilliant trailer and intriguing story? Oh, and it’s directed by some guy called Joseph Kosinski – he sounds promising. What else has he done?
Directorial failures aside, Oblivion has certainly been stirring up a lot of hype and it’s pretty obvious as to why – it looks amazing. We’re talking ‘Good enough to stop people judging Tom Cruise for his height and beliefs’ amazing. It doesn’t get much more amazing than that.
So, can Tom Cruise through life now knowing that when his ears are burning, it’s because people are talking about his acting abilities and not because he is a midget Scientologist?
Well… probably not.
Oblivion takes place in a future where Earth is a desolate wasteland, essentially destroyed by mysterious alien forces. Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) – not to be mistaken with Jack Reacher – is a former veteran who has been tasked with farming Earth for it’s remaining resources with the ‘help’ of Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) – that ‘help’ being staring woefully at a screen.
From there, the plot get’s pretty damn complicated. Rather than spoiling the story by trying to explain it, it’s probably just better to warn you that a headache is waiting for those who are planning on attempting to follow what the hell is going on (and not even the good kind of headache – or the Memento headache, if you will.) It’s probably a film that is better the second time around.
The performances are competent, nothing really to shout home about. Risebourough is probably the weakest of the pack, giving a performance that would sit a lot better in a Bond film. Morgan Freeman performs his ‘Mysterious man with a voice that could cool lava’ act with all the usual finesse – although honestly it’s a bit of a con him being on the poster, since he only has about 10 minutes of screen time overall.
The most notable thing about the film is just how beautiful it is. It really is one of the best looking films in recent years – right up there with Prometheus (Which honestly is the only thing you’d want to have in common with Prometheus.)
The film has a fantastic score to go with the brilliant visuals, which makes for a truly epic experience. If you don’t feel your pulse raising the damn roof during the ending sequence, then you’re probably dead – Killed by a heart attack that was brought on by the sheer intensity of the scene. Either that or you just don’t get excited easily. Which is fair enough.
The issue here, is that it seems that Kosinki focused too hard on making it look good, rather than making it feel good.
The film is 2 hours, which is a fair length, but at times it can feel slow. Really slow. It probably didn’t need to be as long as it is, because a lot of the content feels like artificial padding. The first half of the film is basically Cruise farting around on Earth, getting scanned by flying robots and falling down holes.
Also, the general story just feels overly-contrived. It’s hard to crucify it like it really needs to be without spoiling it, but really it just comes down to the film just trying to do to much. It’s spread thinner than a jam sandwich made by someone with a crippling fear of spreading jam. The one good thing to come from it is that we get to see Tom Cruise fist fight himself… which is always fun.
In all honesty, setting aside the ‘quite stupid but still complicated as hell’ plot, the film is actually quite good. It’s no masterpiece, but it’s exciting, thought-provoking, and of course – insanely good looking. So if you’re the kind of person who cracks one out to The Tree of Life, then this film is a must-see. If you care more about content, it’s still a good film to check out, but it’s not going to awe you in any way. Watch with caution though, because this film may be the one that brings to light your extremely debilitating fetish for beautiful cinematography.
Verdict: Like stumbling in public, and then realising nobody was around to see (7/10)
My face when watching: