The summer blockbuster season has officially kicked off with this smart thought-provoking Science fiction epic with big Hollywood A-list names attached to it. Not since Prometheus (2012) has there been an attempt made at such a slick and serious dystopian post-apocalyptic vision.

If you’ve seen and loved Duncan Jone’s low budget film Moon (2009), you will recognized the inspiration for this cerebral story about an ‘effective team’ couple whose mission is to oversee the repairs of drones protecting a terraforming project after a devastating attack by aliens has left the Earth a surreal moonscape of pock-marked ruins. You will also find familiar story elements from Logan’s Run (1976), Independence Day (1996), I Am Legend (2007) and WALL-E (2008).

‘Style over substance’ seems to be the main complaint by critics about Oblivion, Tom Cruise’s latest sci-fi action drama. But that’s what they said about Blade Runner when it was first released in 1982. Whether Oblivion will have the same impact and become the cult classic that Blade Runner is remains to be seen. But it’s certainly as enjoyable and provocative with a visual style that’s reminiscent of the best of classic sci-fi.

Directed by Joseph Kosinski, we get a visual mix of Tron: Legacy (2010), which he also directed, and more than a few visual references to 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Star Wars (1977). What’s not to like about that? Anyone who loves good Sci-fi will certainly enjoy this stylish mind-bender that’s part futuristic action and part psychological thriller with a touching love story thrown in.

As futuristic as it looks, filmed on the otherworldly landscapes of Iceland; it’s as if the earth has been covered by layers of volcanic ash, Oblivion also has a nostalgic retro bent to it as our hero, Jack Harper, collects all manner of vintage trinkets and memorabilia that he finds on his excursions while repairing drones. He also has recurring visions of a time before the apocalypse.

The music by M83 has a Vangelis type electronic ambient mood that fits well with the barren landscapes and gives the film a cutting edge feeling suggestive of the dehumanized worlds of Philip K. Dick’s novels like Blade Runner (1982), Minority Report (2002) and Total Recall (2012).  

Living literally as the last man and woman on earth, our lonely but effective couple is promised that they will join the rest of the remaining human colonists on Titan, a life sustaining moon orbiting Saturn, when their mission is completed. But when Jack investigates a crashed space vessel that lands nearby, a shocking mystery is revealed.

If you look at what defines a Tom Cruise movie, the one thing they all have in common is obsessively motivated characters with an abundance of confidence and determination to accomplish the job at hand. Much like his own personality his latest character fits perfectly into his legacy of 37 films playing charismatic action heroes from Risky Business (1983) and Top Gun (1986) to The Last Samurai (2003), Collateral (2004), Valkyrie (2008), Knight and Day (2010) and the Mission Impossible movies.

The movie’s theme of breaking barriers and seeing past the fa├žade is an apt one for the beleaguered public image of Tom Cruise. People who may be turned off by his portrayal in the media will be deprived of a stunning visual experience and an entertaining film that pays homage to many of the best sci-fi action films.



Ashley Faulkes said...

Very in depth! Am looking forward to Oblivion, have heard great things about it. Now I want to see it even more. Thanks for the post

Anonymous said...

Starts off perfectly, but soon dissolves into sci-fi convention, after another. Nice review JP.

Ejeff Media said...

Your post is really good. I want to start following you for sure. As for Oblivion, it should be my must see during the summer. My wife is not a sci-fi fan but she tends to like Tom Cruise movies. Nice work

MK Slagel said...

I don't know why but I've never been a big Tom Cruise fan. I feel like that is a sin as a female. The only movie I can think of that I really enjoyed with him in it is the remake of War of the Worlds.

KWade said...

Wow, its clear from your reviews and assessments that you know a lot about movies. You must have seen and studied a ton to make the connections you do. I thought this movie looked pretty good from previews, but there are few others that will probably come before it this summer including the Great Gatsby. It does seem like Tom Cruise is playing the same character recently in his action roles though doesn't it.

JP said...

Thanks everyone, I appreciate the feedback. Yes, I agree, War of the Worlds is an awesome film and one of my favorites too.

One thing is for sure, whatever your opinion of Tom Cruise, he knows how to choose great projects.

Citygirl said...

My husband and I saw the movie on opening weekend. We both really enjoyed it and thought the story held together MUCH better than the one in Prometheus.

Sally DeSmet said...

What an interesting review. I'm not a huge science fiction fan, but the movie sounds interesting and I'd like to see it. I like the way you tied the fictional character with the real actor - that was intriguing.