The power of low expectations triumphs again, as I enjoyed a film! I didn’t think I would enjoy one again after GI Joe 2 and Evil Dead, but I’m pleased to be proven wrong. By Tom Cruise of all people! Not that I don’t see the appeal, I just don’t tend to go for the films he likes to star in. Apart from “War of the Worlds” but I’m NOT going to talk about THAT.
Oblivion tells the story of a pair of maintenance staff stationed on a post-apocalyptic Earth in the near-ish future. In a evocative sci-fi catchup monologue at the start, it seems that Earth was attacked by scavengers that blew up the moon. For one reason or another this precipitated terrible disasters on Earth (hmm…), and the survivors nuked everything to win the war. Good plan, only Earth is now practically unlivable.
But fear not, the survivors are now living on an intimidating space-station pyramid in orbit over the Earth. They are heading off to Saturn’s moon Titan to start afresh, but are just sucking up all the oceans of the world to use as an energy source. Can you imagine the excess baggage? The scavengers are still threatening this operation, so this is where our plucky couple come in.
Stationed in a sleek futuristic station in the clouds, they keep watch of their area, fixing robots, tracking signals on a giant iPad (you can even rest a mug on it without a coaster, how MODERN!), and trading expertly exfoliated looks at each other. Seriously those are faces for Blu-Ray, Tom Cruise’s sacrifices to the scientology lizard god are paying off, as are Andrea Riseborough’s nightly acid peels.
I’m not going to spoil anything, but it goes without saying that shit goes down, and the fragile routine they are working is turned on its head. Who are friends and who are enemies? What the hell is going on? Well just watch it, I’m not Wikipedia.
Though the ending felt a little drawn out, and particularly the all-Americna hero aspect was heavily mined in the final act, it was a very immersive and believeable sci-fi movie. The soundtrack by M83 was brilliant, reminded me of the excellent Daft Punk score to Tron Legacy. The visuals were stunning, even if the post-apocalyptic world consisted EXCLUSIVELY of easily recogniseable eastern US landmark and NOTHING ELSE. Serious, it’s just the Empire State, the Capitol building, a bit of the Statue of Liberty and the Washington monument (you’d think that would be the FIRST thing to fall over!).
It was just visualised so well, very crisp and clean, I had no doubt this was somewhere in the future. Tom and Andrea’s characters were well-defined and totally watchable. Tom did cringe his way back to Average Joe America a few times, but largely kept out of mischief. Really it just all came together, and I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would, possibly one of the best I’ve seen this year.
Watch the trailer at your peril though, you might enjoy it more without some of the plot exposition (hence why I only covered the general premise).