I think therefore
Review by Vives Anunciacion
Written and directed by Joseph Kosinski
Based on the graphic novel by Joseph Kosinski
You can play a game or two while watching the latest Tom Cruise-starrer, Oblivion. If you watch this movie in a certain big cinema at a very big mall near the Bay, you can play “Spot the Dust Particle” as I did with my friends. The screen is so big it can show pores on Cruise’s face, but the dirty projector lens also showed lots of black particles on screen. Rather than getting annoyed, I told my friends to point at every black speck that appears on screen. At least there was something to do apart from waiting for Oblivion to finish since the ending was predictable 10 minutes after it began.
In Oblivion, Tom Cruise plays Jack Harper, one of the few technician/pilots assigned to defend and repair machines designed to mine Earth of its remaining water after a war with aliens leaves the planet and its entire population decimated. Andrea Riseborough (from Madonna’s W.E.) plays Victoria, controller of Jack’s station Tech 49. While on routine patrol, Jack discovers wreckage from a crashed spacecraft that will make him question the truth. There’s other stuff like cool, robotic Drones and the appearance of Morgan Freeman, but I can’t spoil the plot.
The other game you can play is to guess what sci-fi movie Oblivion refers to, because it feels like the entire movie is a mishmash of every iconic sci-fi film there is, more than paying them an homage. The accompanying music, done by electronica band M83 (which collaborated with Daft Punk for Tron: Legacy) also employs the same reference to sci-fi or fantasy films. To wit: scenes reminiscent of Star Wars, of Prometheus or maybe I Am Legend, or concepts from The Island or Bladerunner, prop design from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Predator and Mad Max, bits and pieces from The Matrix and Wall-E – accompanied by music that sounds like scores from Batman Begins, Inception and the aforementioned Tron. Maybe the film was gunning for homage, but these elements were just too literal and obvious to be commemorative. However, that is not to say the music is bad. Quite the contrary, it sounds pretty good. The story is okay, at best.
It would be too harsh to say Oblivion should have stayed in oblivion, but thankfully it doesn’t. It stars Tom Cruise, therefore, in general, the movie automatically becomes required viewing. Oblivion moderately ponders existentialism and the purpose of science – even though many of these ideas have been suggested by other, far superior, sci-fiction. It’s not pretentious intellectualism. It’s just above-average summer movie. If only there was enough character written into Jack, Victoria and Julia (Olga Kurylenko) to make us care for them.
More than anything, the cinematography by Claudio Miranda (who recently won an Oscar for Life of Pi) is top-notch lighting design and lensing – stuff that enthusiasts should see. The bigger the screen the better. Oblivion, despite its flaws, is gorgeous to look at. That much is clear.