Friday, 9 August 2013

Oblivion - Everything but the sci-fi kitchen sink

An alien invasion triggers a nuclear war that decimates the Earth. 60 years later the few aliens called Scavengers are kept at bay by drones which guard generators producing fuel for the human survivors one of Saturn's Moons. When a generator is sabotaged the 'Tech' drone engineer, Commander Jack Harper, begins to believe that there is a conspiracy at work.

Credit to director Joseph Kosinski it's a fantastic looking film, the special effects are wonderfully finished, it is a visual treat from the decimated moon to the wastelands of New York City, Oblivion feels and looks real with the few action scenes a finely executed. The futuristic Apple-like props and set designs with slick costumes ooze cool even if reminiscent of opening of Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes re-imagining.

Despite a handful of writers, even with its generic script thanks to the high concept coupled with Tom Cruise and Olga Kurylenko's performances it has its emotional core. Andrea Riseborough is notable as Victoria and is the most effective of the cast while the talents of Morgan Freeman and Nikolaj Coaster-Waldau are limited to expository bit parts. Even Kurylenko really isn't given much to do.

The score by Anthony Gonzalez's French electronic band M83 is outstanding, this coupled with the old soundtrack tunes add to the atmosphere and nostalgic themes running through Oblivion.

The few Lucas-like chase scenes albeit breathtaking are nothing we haven't seen before and the whole film hinges on another film's concept. That said, if you've not seen Duncan Jones subtler 2009 science fiction offering Oblivion may deliver more surprises. Sci-fi ideas are often recycled - here concepts from the original Planet of the Apes, Solaris and Logan's Run to name a few, to be honest it would be an extensive list to name everything Oblivion borrows.

As a sci-fi homage it works, for new comers to the genre it should be a blast. Nevertheless, for an A-list film with so much talent involved you expect something more original, even definitive or less derivative.

Still it is great to see Cruise in another sci-fi and with a great score Kosinski's offers a grand looking, solid piece of entertainment. Recommended.

Oblivion on