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2013 | 125 min | PG-13 | 2.39:1



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User reviews

4 user reviews

Movie appeal

Comic book34%


Theatrical release date

 19 April, 2013
 10 April, 2013

Country of origin

 United States

Technical aspects


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Screenshots from Oblivion Blu-ray

Oblivion Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, April 18, 2013

“Oblivion” is sci-fi entertainment that recalls genre pictures from the 1980s and ‘70s, where character and spectacle were more evenly matched. It’s a strikingly designed and photographed effort that indulges only a handful of blockbuster bonanza moments, more attentive to its knotted exploration of identity and paranoia, almost old fashioned in its inspection of psychological disruption. That’s not to suggest “Oblivion” isn’t exciting, but it carries more of a literary tone, hoping to extract suspense through intimacy instead of explosions, constructing a beguiling atmosphere of isolation and revelation that keeps the production alert, despite a few convoluted twists along the way.

In the year 2077, Earth has been emptied, losing its population decades earlier when an alien attack forced humanity to use nuclear weapons as defense, poisoning the planet. With survivors reestablishing life on the moon Titan, a corporation oversees the rehabilitation of Earth and the extraction of its natural resources, with mechanic Jack (Tom Cruise) and communications officer Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) in charge of maintaining enormous “Hydro-Rigs” that tower over the landscape, using armed drones to help patrol the land for any signs of the invading aliens, called “Scavengers.” In a relationship with Victoria, Jack is haunted by visions of a previous life with another woman, trying to make sense out of his subconscious as he makes daily rounds in his Bubble Ship. While superior Sally (Melissa Leo) monitors from afar, Jack is alarmed when a capsule falls from the sky containing Julia (Olga Kurylenko), the same woman he’s dreaming about, and shocked when an unknown force ambushes him, led by the enigmatic Malcolm (Morgan Freeman), leaving the dutiful worker who thought he was the last man on Earth profoundly confused and desperate for answers.

“Oblivion” is the second film from director Joseph Kosinski, last seen on screens with the hit “TRON: Legacy.” In many areas of production, the “TRON” touch has carried over to “Oblivion,” detailing a sharp, pristine world of touchscreen technology, and scoring by M83, Anthony Gonzalez, and Joseph Trapanese has a similar digital lift, helping the effort acquire a few euphoric moments the script alone isn’t able to snatch. Instead of a glowing grid to manipulate, Kosinski has the whole world here, or at least New York City, which is explored in a bombed-out state, with crumbling buildings, flattened stadiums, and twisted bridges slowly swallowed by time, watching Jack traverse a nationwide cemetery where humanity once flourished, recalling iconic games of football and taking refuge in his own woodsy hiding spot, where the worker bee bathes in the tranquility of greenery, flannel shirts, and Led Zeppelin on vinyl. A mixture of Icelandic and American locations generate a stunning futureworld of the familiar and the alien, and Kosinski has a terrific eye for the expanse, including the perch-like home for Jack and Victoria, who live above the clouds for safekeeping.

“Oblivion” is a dazzling feature, extending to the machinery Jack employs to carry out his work, including the zooming, swooping Bubble Ship, which plays an important part in the story, acting as Victoria’s eyes and ears when her partner takes off on his own mission. Kosinksi nails the scale of the picture, yet there’s deliberation about the tale that’s refreshing, tracking Jack’s concentrated efforts to decode Julia’s arrival, with the orbiting woman unnerving the mechanic with her vague familiarity. Instead of constant heroics, Jack’s almost selfish in his investigation, confronted with paralyzing disclosures about his life that feed into the screenplay’s mystery. In fact, while Kosinski is attentive to the needs of chase and capture sequences (the angry sphere-shaped drones provide numerous opportunities for action set-pieces) to wow the audience, he’s more in tune with the dramatic developments as Jack gradually becomes aware of his situation on Earth. It’s here where the literary atmosphere kicks in, trusting nuances in behavior and askew elements of intimidation will be more valuable to the viewer than a chaotic laser show of mass destruction. While “Oblivion” is retro in many areas of production, its page-turning tone of secrets and lies remains intriguing, despite a clouded approach that could leave some sci-fi-impaired viewers in the dark.

There’s a significant puzzle to “Oblivion” that won’t be spoiled here. The second half of the film takes off into unanticipated directions, while making a handful of predictable choices as well. Despite a few pacing and storytelling shortcomings, Kosinski has a steady handle on this world, and his cinematic influences, including “Omega Man” and “2001,” always enrich the picture, feeling like honest reverence instead of cheap theft. Perhaps “Oblivion” isn’t as challenging as it imagines itself to be, yet its sophistication and interest in vulnerability is welcome in a genre that often avoids the subtle to go big with the boom.

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

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