Director: Joseph Kosinski
Writers: Karl Gajdusek, Michael Arndt and Joseph Kosinski
Starring: Tom Cruise, Andrea Riseborough, Morgan Freeman and Olga Kurylenko
Seriously, I’m about to decide that any movie Tom Cruise is in is worth watching at least once. I don’t know if he’s insane or not. I’m not qualified to make that kind of assessment. All I know is that if he is, he’s living proof that there is a fine line between insanity and genius because that man can act. He also either has a genius agent, or he can really pick movies.
I’ve read a lot of science fiction. In fact some of my favorite novels and short stories are from the golden age of science fiction. So I figured out what both of the major plot twists were in Oblivion long before they were revealed. That being said, Oblivion was so well done that I thoroughly enjoyed it anyway.
I don’t want to give away too many spoilers because Oblivion is really a movie that’s best when the surprises are surprising. It’s well written though, well acted. Everything was fully believable. The clues make sense and are subtle so the viewer isn’t beaten over the head with them. Like the best science fiction, it treats the audience like they are intelligent. Few things make me dislike a movie more than being treated like an idiot and I appreciate that Oblivion did not fall into that trap.
The CGI is spectacular and like everything about this movie, subtle. Everything hangs together and makes sense. We are spoiled, these days, by the quality and prevalence of CGI. In science fiction movies it seems that CGI is often used gratuitiously in an attempt to foist an ‘epic’ sense upon a story that really isn’t epic. Oblivion doesn’t fall into that trap either. It’s breathtaking but not over the top. The panoramic scenery doesn’t get in the way of the story. Now that could be due to the strength of Tom Cruise’s acting but I think it is more due to the good sense of the editors in showing restraint.
Oblivion explores questions of who we are and what makes us who we are. It tackles the hard questions and perhaps raises a mirror to our cynicism (or at least my cynicism although I’m almost positive the writers very deliberately played upon our collective cynicism). Oblivion is a very human story, as are the best of all stories but science fiction in particular explores who we are as human beings and individuals and what it means to be who we are. Unlike more poorly done films and sometimes novels, Oblivion is neither clunky, nor crass in the way it explores philosophy. Rather it does so with an ease that seems effortless when in fact it is the entire crux of the story.
That is the hallmark of a good story. It makes us think about the philosophical and global. Good stories can lead us gently to question what it means to be human. Oblivion does all of this in an intelligent and entertaining way.
And by entertaining, I mean this is an action movie too. There are gun battles, crashes, chases, even high speed chases and explosions, including a couple of nukings (I kid you not, two nuclear devices were detonated that I counted). So your thirst for excitement, gentle reader, will be well slaked. There are also two love stories, one of true love and one bittersweet. Again our humanity, the best and perhaps less than best that we are, is acted out with such skill and sensitivity that I felt for each character. I empathized with each character; every actor and actress did a fantastic job in their roles.
The final scene, my goodness the final scene was classic science fiction. There is nothing I can say about it that won’t give away too much. So no spoilers, I’m afraid. Oblivion is an excellent and thought provoking movie. I do believe I may add this to my DVD collection. K.
Originally published on M31Publishing.com, republished with permission.