I love science fiction movies, especially those that does not translate into scientific, spaceship, alien, and ear-deafening action sequences, but rather a contemporary form of dystopian future with humanistic conflict instead, like Never Let Me Go (2010). Oblivion falls somewhere in between these two polarity and somehow finding myself in a love hate relationship with it.
“Is it possible to miss a place you’ve never been, to mourn a time you never lived?”
– Jack Harper (Oblivion, 2013)
Set in 2077 dystopia, Earth’s Moon is shattered and Earth itself is barren and uninhabitable, prior to a cataclysmic alien invasion, 60 years ago. In the aftermath, human race vacated the earth and relocated to Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. The Tet, a tetrahedral-shaped space station, is the last human escape vessel, collecting raw materials from earth to assure the survival of humanity.
Meet Jack Harper (Tom Cruise), one of many tech repairmen stationed on Earth to ensure the safety and perform maintenance to Drone-bots, against the unknown threats called Scavs. Together with Victoria ‘Vika’ Olsen (Andrea Riseborough), the couple work as a pair on base 49 with high efficiency in executing their mission. The pair has their memories wiped out for security reasons. But 2 weeks prior to their departure to Tet, their dynamics and belief crashed and burn, as Jack’s became more haunted by his dream of a mysterious girl (Olga Kurylenko), which he believes is a memory from his past life, who re-appear in his life when he rescued her from a fallen spacecraft.
Oblivion is the second feature film by Joseph Kosinski, after his debut with Tron: Legacy (2010). This movie is adapted from an unpublished graphic novel created by Kosinski and Arvid Nelson for Radical Comics. When i was watching this i could not help but to recognize the twists and turns the plot gonna take, a sense of déjà vu and lack of newness came to mind. I recognized repeated and recycled events from previous films, making it more and more predictable and might be less exciting. However, I enjoyed the slow and languorous pace of the movie. How it walks us through this 2077 world, intimately introduced us to it and its character, before it opens up to conflicts and twists that unravels faster towards the end.
Those who were expecting action sequence from this movie might be disappointed because it’s very mediocre and quiet. If anything i was hoping the action sequences to be a little bit beautiful and poetic (wanted it to lend the same eerie beauty from 2012 movie, The Impossible) to go with the entire feeling of the movie.
The movie itself look like a dead ringer of Tron, with its production design handled by Darren Gifford who worked together with Kosinski on Tron, the result is a retro-futuristic design that are sleek and efficient, most evident in the design of the base and the vehicles used in the film (although i still can not wrap my head around the fact that apparently these people just
must need to have a glass infinity pool in their house!). The retro futuristic design reminds me of 70s sci-fi movies, and the choice of color scheme is not as severe as Tron, making it looking more clinical instead, which i actually appreciate. The portrayal of post-apocalyptic Earth is quite mesmerizing, with shifted plates, frozen landscapes, sand dunes, and climatic changes; using several american landmarks, the national monument, the white house, lady liberty, and Empire State Building to give a visceral connection to the audience.
Claudio Miranda gold touch stood out in this movie, creating a poetic romanticism that i never expected to found in this genre before. With tight close-up on the actor’s faces the expression is more evident, the emotion is more pronounced, captured beautifully to enhance the feeling of the film.
While i enjoyed the performance of Andrea Riseborough as the detached yet vulnerable Vika in this film, i was not to happy with the other choice of casts. Sure Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman is just okay (Mr Freeman’s charisma is being exploited in this film, to be quite honest), but their acting just did not stood out. Tom Cruise is being, well, Tom Cruise, just like in his previous Jack (Reacher) film he’s just is as it is, taking most of the screentime compared to the rest of the casts. While Freeman character along with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (from Game of Thrones) was wasted to be cast in such underdeveloped characters. Olga Kurylenko also seems flat and stiff in her role as the heroine of the film. I wonder if it would do better if the role goes to Noomi Rapace or Jessica Chastain instead, but maybe i’m just biassed (and both, i think, are too good for Cruise anyway).
All in all with all the flaws and predictability, i still enjoy the poetic beauty of the film. My eyes feasted on the visual poem delivered from the crafts of Claudio Miranda. If you are looking for high octane action, you’d despise the movie for sure. But if you’re looking for visual feast and a different kind of sci-fi, give it a chance, you might enjoy the ride :)
Pictures are taken from IMDb.