Review: Oblivion-The Cruiser's Return

Waddup. So I'm due to see Oblivion tonight, as where I live it has been out for 9 days, so I'm itching to see the latest Tom Cruise extravaganza. I personally have been waiting for this for several months, and is probably one of my highly anticipated movies of 2013. But there's a problem. In the 9 day hiatus since Oblivion premiered in my country there has been some, negativity. My friends claim the plot makes no sense, and the Rotten Tomatoes rating currently stands at 59%. Oh dear. It's something of a disappointment. I'm quite a large Tom Cruise fan, and even though he may be insane, I don't base my views on an actor by his personal beliefs, he's a very good actor who still makes good movies, case closed.

So here's what I'm gonna do, I'm gonna write part of this, and state my expectations, then I'll go see the film, return and complete my review. Sounds fair, right?
Oblivion has a bunch of key factors that really attract me. One, it was directed by Joseph Kosinski, whose only other movie is Tron: Legacy. Which no-one likes. Now this is why I like both Kosinki and Legacy. First, Joseph is a visual genius. For me, Legacy is the most visually stunning movie I have seen to date. It surpasses films like Avatar because for me, it just seemed unrealistic in their setting, ie an alien planet. In Legacy the setting is in a computer, so there's not the same problem of realism. Because it's not real, y'know? Anyway, one criticism was that the characters and plot like sucked. I'm sorry, but have you seen TRON? Have you seen it? The characters are less than one-dimensional, bar Jeff Bridges slightly a bit, and the plot is that these guys have to get from one side of the Grid to the other. THAT'S IT. WE DON'T EVEN KNOW WHY. THEY JUST HAVE TO. The reason it's so amazing and a cult classic is that it's 90 minutes of amazing awesome computer made fighting fun. I seriously recommend this film. My point is, it's pretty much the exact same as the original, and I like that. It's fun, looks good and Jeff Bridges is in there twice. So I was expecting more super fun from Joseph's next film. Until I heard about...
The Cruiser himself. I like Tom Cruise. And his movies. For all the hate he gets, Collateral and Minority Report are among my favourite movies ever. He's also made a bunch of other really good action and science fiction films, like War of the Worlds (by the way, I don't consider that an adaptation of the book, nor a remake, more a different perspective of what's going on while the invasion happens. More like a sequel set at the same time) the Mission Impossible movies (the best of course being Ghost Protocol in my opinion) and Top Gun (which is a lot of fun). He's also made some really good dramas, like Rain Man. He's a confident, talented and enthusiastic actor who only stars in films he cares about. He may not put lots of effort into preparation like Daniel Day-Lewis, but at least he cares about what he's in. Unlike some similarly aging movie stars *cough, Bruce Willis*. If I ever made a movie I think it would be great to have Tom Cruise in it. Because you know he cares about it. Which is good. As an aspiring director, the worst thing for me in a film would be none of the actors caring about what's going on. That would suck.
So finally, the last thing. The premise. Earth is ravaged. Sweet. Tom Cruise has a laser machine gun and scouts the planet. Excellent. He can't remember before the war and events arise that lead him to think that there's something about him that he has to discover or something. Fantastic. Can't go wrong, right?
See, it can, I've come to realize. Because whilst I like Legacy because of the action, look, music and Jeff Bridges, I didn't really care about the plot. Nor did it matter. We wanted to see what we saw in TRON. However Oblivion seems to be very dependent on plot, meaning that if it's fluffed up, there's more disastrous consequences than that which happened when the plot in Legacy was fluffed up. You with me? Basically, a bad plot is less important in a movie that doesn't centralize around the plot.
And FYI, I don't really care if Morgan Freeman is in this movie, I mean I think he's a great actor and I know he'll do a great job, but it wasn't a contributing factor to my interest in this movie. Sorry Morgan.
OK guys, I'm heading off to see Oblivion, catch you soon.


I'm back, baby.

So I saw Oblivion. Now let me start by saying that when I first heard about Oblivion, my excitement was similar to that mentioned above. Unfortunately in the last few weeks after reading reviews and hearing about it from my friends, all I got was a 'Meh.' As in, it's ok, I guess. My hopes were, if not shattered, beaten up a bit. So as I entered the cinema and took my seat I feared, not the worse, but mediocrity. And dammit was I wrong.
I loved it. It was fun, exciting, well-acted, entertaining and it looked SO GOOD. I mean, you know how I said I didn't like landscape CGI because it doesn't look realistic because at the end of the day, you cannot recreate nature on a computer. Well, Oblivion did so much better. The barren landscapes seem to have a sort of majestic and lush feel to them that the bright garish scenes of Avatar did not. Now don't get me wrong, Avatar was a modern technical breakthrough that we haven't seen since The Wizard of Oz, I just felt more engaged in Oblivion with the scenery.
The cinematography is fantastic, it really captures the emotions being played on screen. I also recommend checking out a bunch of the behind the scenes videos, as they show you the extent of the physical props they used, it's really great.
Then there's Tom. Old Tommy. Thomas the Cruiser himself. I liked Tom Cruise a lot in this movie, you could tell he was having a lot of fun. I don't think that Olga Kurylenko's character was as important or developed as it should have been, and was actually overshadowed by Andrea Riseborough's character, the controller of the majestic tower where she and Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) lived and worked. For me, she was probably the most interesting, for both her attitude to their mission and situation and her relationship with Jack and then with Olga's character.
To be honest, I liked Morgan Freeman's character. He wasn't as integral to the plot as other characters were, meaning his presence on the poster was strictly marketing, hell, he doesn't turn up for like the first hour. However he acted well and I liked the character so no harm done.
The music also excels, although never really reaches the high standards Daft Punk's Legacy soundtrack did. Towards the end the soundtrack really picks up, Fearful Odds is worth a listen, as is the credits song, Oblivion. At parts it sounds too similar to Inception, which is a real shame. And while we're on the topic of originality...
For an original science-fiction movie, Oblivion borrows and takes plot points and aspects from a wide range of movies, from Total Recall to Wall-E. This never really is a problem in my mind, and some of these are just aspects that are common place in many films. Not only that, the plot was actually written in 2005, so that  kinda nullifies claims of ripping of 09's Moon. Some parts are a bit distracting though, a few times I felt "Oh that's a bit like..." which kinda took me out of the viewing experience. Other than that, I had no real problem with it.
WARNING, I'm not going to say any spoilers, but I will hint at their existence, if you want nothing about the plot hinted at, just scroll down to where you see the dash line.


The plot is easy enough to follow, with some parts more heavily explained than others, usually the parts that needed to be explained more were left to be assumed. There's a few plot twists, the first you can see coming, like from the trailer. But then there's the other one.
I'm gonna describe what it was like. Imagine you're watching a magic show, and it looks good and enjoyable and you're having a good time. But then the magician reaches into his hat, pulls out a giant fish and slaps you across the face with it. That was the effect of the plot-twist. And actually, I liked it. It could be argued to be clever, but if it's not it's certainly not out of place. It's believable and in due time they explain it. So everything's fine. However not all people will like it, that's a fact. You'll just have to see for yourself.

And yes there's plot holes. Quite a few, come to think of it. I'm sure most can be explained to an extent, but it would take too much time for something that shouldn't have to be explained at all.

Oblivion is undeniably a fun movie. It's definitely watchable, and can be thoroughly enjoyed. It harks back to Star Wars, which was a movie made for fun really only. Because while Joseph Kosinski may not be able to do plots, he definitely can make you have a hell of a time. And so Oblivion may not have the most coherent plot or character development or dialogue, it certainly is an astounding piece of cinema technically, and a very enjoyable one. To summarize, I'm going to take a quote from the film, but amend it slightly,

And how can man film better 
Than facing fearful views,
 From the ashes of good movies, 
And the presence of the Cruise.

 - Alkazor, 2013

I give Oblivion 4 out of 5 stars: