To Oblivion and Beyond

Tom Cruise returns to theaters as a man named Jack Reacher, I mean Harper in his latest sci-fi epic, “Oblivion.”  Oblivion is a story about life on earth, or should I say its remains, after an alien attack decades before ravaged the planet.  National monuments, a majority of resources, and human beings themselves are no longer existent on this planet.  Earth is uninhabitable.  Jack Harper is an employee of the company in space that is housing society in while Jack and his girlfriend/ tech partner Vica (short for Victoria played by Andrea Riseborough) are a clean up crew on Earth.  Think Wall-E and Eve, but without a lot of personality.  In 2 weeks they’ll be joining the rest of their space comrades and settling on a new planet where human life can resume it’s earth duties.  Again, think Wall-E.

Something isn’t right though with Jack.  He keeps having recurring nightmares about a woman from his past who he swears is real and familiar.  Compile that with Jack’s curiosity about the extinct earth itself and it causes him to be despondent.  Jack explores the remains of old New York City in search for answers, all the while being hunted by a mysterious group of species.  Are they aliens?  Animals?  Humans?  We don’t know until later in the film.  During Jack’s travels he comes across a group of survivors from a shuttle crash.  One of which is the mysterious woman who is from his dreams(played by Olga Kurylenko), that knows more about him than he knows her.  Jack’s continued curiosity leads him to a group of rag-tag soldiers led by Morgan Freeman.  Are they the mysterious creatures I spoke of before?  Well yes.  No real spoilers here.  If you saw the trailer and can put 2 and 2 together, you know where that was headed.

Freeman’s group seem like a bunch of terrorists hell-bent on the destruction the remainder of the human race.  Their objectives couldn’t be more different.  Without actually spoiling the movie,  things become more and more layered.  Jack begins to learn the truth, question his intentions in his profession and defy those who have known him closely.  Just when you think you know where the story is going it takes a complete turn that for me almost derailed the movie.  Luckily the Oblivion train gets back on track as the plot twist makes more and more sense as the film draws towards its conclusion.  In the end, it makes for a finale that makes you think of another sci-fi classic in particular.  That one I’ll let you see for yourselves.

Oblivion overall is a fun ride.  All the elements of a blockbuster are there.  It’s not a sequel or a prequel or anything of the sort but you can tell it borrows from several sci-fi stories such as “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Logan’s Run,” “The Matrix” and yes even “Wall-E” despite that being a Pixar movie.  The movie does keep you guessing and doesn’t bore you to tears for the next two hours, even with the plot twist.  What Oblivion suffers from is the lack of personality by these characters.  Yes, I get it they’re in a ravaged society and there isn’t a lot of time for humor, but sometimes a little comic relief goes a long way.  Movies like “Star Trek,” “Independence Day” and “The Empire Strikes Back” made the best out of bad situations and found some lightheartedness out of darkness.  This film could have benefited from a charisma bypass.  Even lines like “You should see the other guy” after Jack returns from a fight don’t make me chuckle, they make my eyes roll.  That line has been beaten to death more times than Rocky Balboa.

In conclusion, Oblivion is a good film.  Not great, but good.  Seeing it in the theater is preferable, but if you want to wait for a rental than I don’t blame you.  To each their own, I prefer the theater.  I’m surprised a movie like this wasn’t converted to 3D, but given Tom Cruise’s reputation (yes some people are still iffy about him after 2005) it probably would detract people from going to the box office to see it if they had to pay that extra 3D charge.  It might be enough for some people just to get back into the theater and see him as something different from Ethan Hunt, like the good old days when he was a major box office draw.  It’s unfortunate, but Tom Cruise is still a good actor and I enjoy a majority of his roles.  In all honesty if it was anyone but him, this movie would have been less of a spectacle.  Maybe audiences are turning the corner and beginning to accept him back as long as he keeps his mouth shut about…well let’s not feed the beast shall we.  Oblivion is good, no personality test required.

Overall score: 8 out of 10