Review: Oblivion

Chris Thomas 26 April 2013

We’ve come to expect every sci-fi themed blockbuster to culminate in the computer-generated destruction of at least half a city by giant UFOs, flying alien whales, or Michael Bay. Yet some of the better films of the genre have been smaller-scale, thoughtful character studies, like Danny Boyle’s Sunshine or Duncan Jones’ Moon. Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski has clearly attempted to emulate the tone of such movies in this post-apocalyptic Tom Cruise vehicle, with its reflections on solitude and the nature of humanity.

However, a complete lack of original storyline means that Oblivion feels like a confused patchwork of science fiction cliches. The opening section sees Cruise’s “Tech 49,” running clean-up operations on a doomed Earth: essentially a live action version of WALL-E, but without any of the heart that made the Pixar film so compelling.An aerial chase through twisting canyons owes more than a little to the finale of the original Star Wars, whilst the ending resembles the unplanned product of a drunken one-night stand between Independence Day and The Matrix.

A strong cast is aided in its task of elevating dull, generic source material to a watchable level by some stunning visual representations of the dying planet (though Morgan Freeman is underused as little more than an exposition device). Overall, it quickly becomes clear that we’ve seen everything this film has to offer before, and with neither the brains to engage nor the brawn to excite, it seems that Oblivion is destined for obscurity.

Chris Thomas