Review: Oblivion


Oblivion - Credit: Archant

Oblivion presents us with a post-apocalyptic future so twisted and strange that Tom Cruise and Andrea Riseborough are a couple. They're an improbable pairing – like The Rock marrying Tilda Swinton.

But, half a century after a nuclear war has decimated the planet, they are happily ensconced in a spotless hi-tech show home in the sky.

While she stays at home all day, he flies off to service the drones who are extracting the last of the Earth's resources for export to Titan, where the remainder of humanity now lives. They even have an outdoor pool for skinny dipping; it's like a David Hockney painting propped on a cloud.

But all is not as it seems. Universal have been treating Oblivion like a pedigree dog with fleas. They've been drawing attention to its existence but keeping everybody at a distance.

When a film is first screened on the evening of the day before it comes out and they still make you sign an embargo promising you won't discuss it online or publish a review in the three hours between the film finishing and the day of its release, you suspect that this dog may in fact be rabid (or Prometheus).

Now there are many flaws in Oblivion – it's derivative, the dialogue's poor, its mysteries are easily decrypted, it's got Tom Cruise in it – but it's a big budget sci-fi film that is as much story as action led.

It isn't a sequel, a franchise or a remake and, on its own terms, it is wholly enjoyable.

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It's an original piece that works hard to make everything familiar.

The music score desperately tries to persuade you it is a Dark Knight film. The film pillages from everything: from Star Wars, The Matrix and Independence Day to The Black Hole and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. To be a sci-fi film of the last 50 years that hasn't had one of its ideas nabbed by the scriptwriters or the production design team on Oblivion is an almighty snub.

But these second-hand ideas are beautifully rendered. Kosinski made Tron Legacy, a colour film that might just as well have been black and white and he has the same aversion to bright colours.

Mostly everything is gleaming white or washed-out grey but it looks magnificent, especially on the giant Imax screen.


Director: Joseph Kosinski

Starring: Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Morgan Freeman, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Melissa Leo

Length: 126 mins