Oblivion

Director: Joseph Kosinski

Starring: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Melissa Leo

Written by: Karl Gajdusek, Michael Arndt, (also comic book) Joseph Kosinski and (comic book) Arvid Nelson

Running Time: 126 mins

Cert: 12A

Release date: 10th April 2013

Science fiction is a hard genre to handle. It can go any way. It can be about a utopia gone wrong, or a metaphysical examination of man and god, or, like Star Wars, just a romp. Oblivion mixes two kinds, the utopia and the metaphysical. That’s perfectly fine but if you are going to do that, especially with a big budget blockbuster like this, at least make sure the pace is moving along otherwise you will lose your audience through boredom.

Earth has been in a war in which the human race have headed off to Titan to escape the nuclear fall-out. Left on the planet are Jack Harper, a technician, and Victoria, his partner and link to the planet above. His job is to fix the drones that fly around protecting the vast machines that are sucking up the Earth’s sea water for power. The drones are protecting them from Scavs, dark creatures that want the machines destroyed.

Jack has been having dreams, dreams of a woman he has never met or knew. He has a hidden retreat where he collects books and records and can hide from the rigors of the regimented workday. Then a shuttle from Space crashes. On board are humans, including the woman of his dreams. Who is she? And who are the Scavs really? And what is the true purpose of Jack’s existence on the planet?

Director Joseph Kosinski, who also co-wrote the script as well as created a comic book, tries to make a big budget film full of incredible production values and set pieces while at the same time throw up questions that the audience can watch being answered, leading to a question of life. Perfectly fine and after his previous film, Tron: Legacy, it does surprise you that such a film can exist from a man who just threw effect after effect at the screen in his last film. If only he had kept the pace of the Disney sequel and put it here because it is so slow that it becomes, in places, very dull.

Tom Cruise, back playing another character called Jack (?) is fine and isn’t stretched in the acting stakes. Neither are any of the cast members: Morgan Freeman, using his deep voice to good use and Olga Kurylenko, as the mysterious woman of Jack’s dreams, isn’t really given too much to build a strong performance but she looks good. Only Andrea Riseborough, with her piercing big eyes, comes out of this with a very strong role as Victoria, Jack’s partner.

This isn’t a film that is built upon performance. The real star of the film are the special effects and the settings. These are superb and it’s no denying that the money for this film is up there on the screen. The vast wastelands with well-known landscapes jutting out of ground is very reminiscent of the original Planet of The Apes. The drone chase has a touch of Star Wars to it and yes, there are plenty of moments when the film ups a gear and becomes quite exciting. These moments, however, are very few and far between.

Audiences will go in expecting one thing and will struggle with how slow it does get. It is very similar to some of the sci-fi films pre-Star Wars, where facts were more important that the fiction. It also has its heart set to be another 2001 (including HAL’s red eye playing an important part here).

This isn’t a bad film. Quite the opposite. It’s an impressive science fiction film for those who love and admire the genre. I think those who want to see an action packed Tom Cruise film will find it hard going. In an age where everything is rush, rush, rush, Oblivion doesn’t and this could upset the multiplex audiences who like quick cuts, flashing images and a story that doesn’t leisurely take it’s time. It looks amazing but that’s just not enough.

3/5

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