Oblivion is an enthralling visual journey into a future earth, with an excellent premise that reconstitutes well-tried themes in science fiction.
As always, Tom Cruise delivers the goods with an honest performance in the midst of a potentially thin plot. However, everything seems streamlined and effortless, making this a film I could easily fall into and become absorbed with. The plot was very straightforward overall, calling on many well-used tropes, and I went into it with quite a bit of it figured out. I didn’t care at all, though, becoming so engaged with the cinematography and performances that I didn’t care.
What this film lacks in originality, it makes up for in the combination of sheer passion for the source material and visuals. This is a movie you need to see in IMAX, just to appreciate everything there is to see. We’re taken through the ruins of different New York landmarks, as well as views of epic landscapes and artfully designed sets.
Oblivion is an homage to a good handful of classic science fiction films, synthesizing their tropes into a really enjoyable experience. It brings some of the eerie utilization of doppelgängers from The Island; the visuals of a decimated Earth are reminiscent of Planet of the Apes, The Book of Eli, ; the revolution against a secret force recalls V, Surrogates, Total Recall; the excellent robot action reminds us of I, Robot and Wall-E; the twisting of reality and pulling the rug out from under the world is like The Matrix; and the sterile isolation of space alludes to 2001: A Space Odyssey and Moon. Richard Roeper saw this as well, naming more than I’d thought, and hitting the nail on the head:
If you’ve never seen “Total Recall,” “Minority Report,” “Wall-E,” “Prometheus,” “Vanilla Sky,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Moon,” “War of the Worlds,” “Blade Runner,” “District 9,” “Predator,” any of the “Star Wars” or “Matrix” movies or “Independence Day,” you’ll exit “Oblivion” convinced you’ve experienced the greatest science-fiction thriller the world has ever known. Then again, if you’ve never seen any of those movies, why are you starting with “Oblivion”? [via Richard Roeper]
The use of these motifs and themes from any number of science fiction is not off-putting at all. Rather, it gives us a good bit of comfort, knowing that we’re watching something that has come before and been successful. The knowledge of the elements it uses simply enhances the experience, because it isn’t ripping them off, but utilizing the tools that have worked so well before in a new way. I enjoyed the film immensely, and I encourage you to see it, if only for the brilliant, exquisite visuals and another stellar performance by Tom Cruise.