Tom Cruise’s latest effort, Oblivion, is a Sci-Fi movie that shows us what is left of the world after humanity has fended off an attack from a predatory interstellar race called Scavengers. As a last resort, the people of Earth were forced to use their nuclear arsenals to turn the tide in the war and the resulting fallout has made the planet unlivable. Mankind is headed to a new colony on Titan (a moon that orbits Saturn) and is harvesting the last few resources that Earth has left to offer. Cruise plays Jack Harper, one of the last people on Earth, who is tasked with flying patrols and repairing the drones that protect the engines that generating energy from the oceans. On a routine mission, Jack comes across the wreckage of a spacecraft and finds a human survivor who starts to unravel Jack’s reality and makes him question everything he thinks he knows.
While Oblivion drags at times, I found myself really immersed in the story. There were a lot of very clever elements in the film that helped to set it apart from a few of the other Sci-Fi movies that have come out recently. One of the things that is referenced is the destruction of the moon, and the way that influences the skyline is striking. I liked the way the landscape was designed to show the remnants of civilization being swallowed by a dying planet without being too much of a gimmick. I also liked the technology concepts that they use because they seem advanced, but not too farfetched.
My biggest complaint was that even though Cruise is given two love interests; Olga Kurylenko and Andrea Riseborough, he seems to have no romantic chemistry with either one. It causes the emotional moments to pack very little punch, which hampers your ability to be truly drawn into the story and invested in the characters. Also, for a film with such a large scope, it is too quiet at times and it felt sluggish in the middle. The final result is mostly positive and I think the movie accomplishes much of what it sets out to do. I give Oblivion a B.
Visually, Oblivion is a striking movie, although it seems to be a trend that most Sci-Fi movies or movies set in the future all feature the same white/gray/chrome color scheme. I hope that in twenty or fifty years people haven't stopped wanting to see a little color in their world. Tom Cruise is a good fit for this role, he is physically dominant when the movie calls for it and he also can handle the more quiet moments. I appreciated that the story had more twists and surprises than I had anticipated which did help lighten the sluggish middle of the movie.
I agree with Scott that there wasn't much chemistry with Cruise and his two love interests. As compelling as the story is, the real weakness in the movie is the lack of emotion. I think I would have loved this movie if I had felt some real sense of dread or sadness and yet it never quite reached anything more than mild interest for me. For that reason I can only give it a B.