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Set on a future Earth, civilization lives above the clouds and scavengers collect ancient artifacts from the polluted surface below. An earthbound soldier, who is stuck there repairing drones that patrol and blast a savage alien life form, encounters a beautiful woman who crashed in a craft and they have an experience that forces him to question his world view.
For more about Oblivion and the Oblivion Blu-ray release, see the Oblivion Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on July 26, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Morgan Freeman, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Melissa Leo
Director: Joseph Kosinski
» See full cast & crew
Oblivion Blu-ray Review
"Are you still an effective team?"
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, July 26, 2013
Too. Much. Movie. There's a lot to admire about Oblivion. An at-times bold resistance to sci-fi convention, striking visual design and effects (both practical and computer-generated), thrilling action, stunning vistas and set pieces, an unorthodox structure, a unique alien attack and invasion overmind, a pulsing original score, and a host of other interesting ideas. Unfortunately, there are so many ideas crammed into Oblivion's slight 125-minute frame -- most of which aren't fleshed out or explored to any satisfying cerebral ends -- that the film buckles under the sheer weight of it all, collapsing in on itself by its climactic but convoluted endgame.
Earth, 2017. Alien invaders dubbed Scavengers destroy the moon, wreaking havoc on the planet and leaving it in ruin. After a bitter war, the surviving humans manage to route and expel the bulk of the invasion force, and spend the next sixty years constructing a massive ship -- the Tet -- designed to relocate humanity to a colony on Titan, Saturn's largest moon. Fast forward to 2077. Technician Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) and communications officer Vica Olsen (Andrea Riseborough) oversee the maintenance and repair of drones that patrol and protect Zone 49, an area where enormous generators convert sea water into energy for the Tet. However, a remnant of surface-dwelling Scavs has been launching guerrilla attacks on human drones and installations with alarming frequency, and it's up to Jack to prevent them from causing any further delay in the Tet's fueling.
Note: spoilers are all but unavoidable when discussing 'Oblivion' at any length. While I've made every effort to avoid revealing major plot points or revelations, I do allude to certain developments and address notable plot twists. The best way to experience 'Oblivion' is to go in with as little foreknowledge as possible.
Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski's loose, live-action adaptation of Pixar's Wall-E... or rather the young filmmaker's 2005 illustrated novel turned big budget mid-April tentpole had the misfortune of being introduced to audiences with a string of theatrical trailers that gave away far too many details about the second and third acts of the story. Had key twists and turns been cloaked in secrecy -- for starters, the presence of any surviving human element on the surface -- the film might have made a bigger impact. Instead, the "alien" menace is a transparent one, and it comes as no surprise when the massive ship hovering above the planet is revealed to be something other than mankind's salvation. The other non-surprise is the truth of Jack and Vica's enlistment and mission, the details of which bear uncanny similarities to a more minimalistic but far superior recent film I'll link to rather than name.
The irony, of course, is how much of Kosinski's humans vs. scavs actioner has been scavenged from richer, more fully realized science fiction, and just how often Oblivion, for all its seeming inventiveness and undeniably breathtaking visuals, is revealed to be a wholly ordinary amalgamation of more thought-provoking genre classics. Worse, plot holes abound -- among them a few story-killers I can't even hint at without offering up sensitive information -- and Jack is a conundrum in and of himself that doesn't hold up well to repeat viewings. It's also somewhat irritating that any and every problem in Kosinski's dystopian future can apparently be solved by a fist or firearm, up to and including the finale, when The Almighty Nuke is called upon to save the human race. (Though not uniquely American, The Almighty Nuke has become the deus ex machina du jour in American action/sci-fi cinema. Pacific Rim anyone?) Literally every moment of change, conflict or catharsis hinges on a weapon or One 'Splosion to Rule Them All. Now, I'm as much a fan of Big Dumb Fun as the next guy, but Kosinski isn't aiming for Big Dumb Fun... which is precisely what makes the big, dumb, and fun in Oblivion feel so alien, not to mention so alienating.
As a high-concept, low-payout actioner, though, Oblivion delivers the spoils of war and then some. Visually, it's one of the most enthralling films of the year, with a dazzling clash between disheveled dystopian landscapes and white-washed Apple Inc. design; one that pits the evocative against the utilitarian in increasingly disarming ways. Kosinski's bright, sun-bathed exteriors fly in the face of the moody, shadow-slathered sci-fi dystopias to which we're most accustomed, and his practical sets are as engaging as the CG flyovers that provide breakneck glimpses at the broken planet. The actors are secondary to the immersiveness of the world, sadly, and Morgan Freeman is all but wasted as Malcolm Beach, a bit part that could have been carried by anyone with enough age and gravitas. But Cruise, no stranger to big budget action, holds his own, even as Riseborough (the weight and conflict behind those eyes!), Olga Kurylenko (the heft and heart she brings!) and Game of Thrones' Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (the only convincing man of conviction in Malcolm's band of outlaws!) steal the show from their A-list co-stars.
If Oblivion were a more emotionally complex, character-driven piece, if it took more time with its world and survivors, if it narrowed its focus to any one of the six sci-fi movies struggling for dominance, the resulting Tom Cruise vehicle might have been something special. Alas, it lacks substance and boasts a superficial sheen; a highly reflective, thematically inert glossiness ever at odds with the grand ideas at its core. I wanted to fall for Kosinski's dystopian epic. Instead, I munched mindlessly on my popcorn, enjoyed a decent sci-fi actioner, and went home imagining the incredible classic Oblivion could have been.
Oblivion Blu-ray, Video Quality
Easily a contender for Best AV Presentation of 2013, Oblivion storms Blu-ray with a stunning 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer that's quite arguably perfect. Colors are cold and sterile, black levels are bottomless, and primaries rarely pop, much less put up much of a fight. And yet all is exactly as it's meant to be. Kosinski's dystopian exteriors are bathed in untempered white light, his utopian interiors are clean to the point of being sterile, and his underground ruins and steelworks are somber and laden with shadow. There are brief respites -- lush greens and warm earthtones abound whenever Jack retreats off the grid to his cabin hideaway -- but, for the most part, the film doesn't indulge in vibrant hues. Even so, beauty is everywhere, and detail is plentiful. Edges are refined and flawless, without any significant ringing to report. Textures are exceedingly well-resolved and oh so revealing, without a hint of softness that isn't of the cinematic variety. Delineation is excellent too; no muss, no crush. And grain has been preserved, minus any unruly noise or artifacting that might disrupt the proceedings. Banding and aliasing are MIA as well, making Oblivion's encode as impeccable as they come. This is a top tier transfer through and through, showcasing every impressive, thoughtfully realized inch of the filmmakers' production design and visual effects.
Oblivion Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There isn't any disappointment to be had with Universal's battle-hardened DTS-HD Master Audio surround track either. Once again, "perfect" is the word of the hour. Low-end output is monstrous, throwing the full weight and power of the LFE channel behind every explosion, drone blast, thruster roar, alien thrum, and ground-shaking, soundscape-rumbling effect the film's bombastic sound design has on tap. Not to be outdone, the rear speakers somehow elevate the experience to untold heights. Jack's bubbleship whips seamlessly from one channel to the next. Drones rocket past. Bullets send debris flying in every direction. Environmental ambience is ever-present and ever-effective. The film's M83 score surges and relents to enveloping ends. And all of it, each and every aspect of the mix, is perfectly prioritized and brilliantly balanced with anything and everything entering the consistently immersive soundfield. Dialogue is crystal clear and intelligible at all times too, and dynamics, directionality and separation are first-rate, without incident or mishap. Oblivion may not engage the imagination as readily as I thought it would, but its AV presentation blew me away. Top marks all around.
Oblivion Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Oblivion Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Oblivion suffers from too many competing elements, an overcrowded screenplay, and underdeveloped ideas. To swipe a line, "we are not an effective team." And yet the film and its young director have high aspirations, many of which pay off. The production design is outstanding. The world, its invaders and some of the paths the story follows are absorbing. And the cast gives their all, even when the script is lacking. Still, by movie's end, I found myself pining for the film Oblivion should have been rather than mulling over the film that was. With a more seasoned director and a few targeted rewrites, it could have been one of the finest sci-fi masterpieces in recent memory. Fortunately, Universal's Blu-ray release treats Oblivion as if it were just that. With a jaw-dropping top tier video transfer, an equally magnificent DTS-HD Master Audio surround track, and a solid selection of supplemental material (including an excellent 50-minute production documentary and an audio commentary with Kosinski and Cruise), the Blu-ray edition of Oblivion brushes shoulders with the best Blu-ray releases of the year thus far. It may not be a must-own release, but it's certainly a must-see.
Oblivion: Other Editions
Oblivion Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blu-ray Sales, August 5-11: Oblivion Conquers the HD Landscape - August 16, 2013
For the week that ended on August 11th, Universal Studios scored a win on both the Blu-ray-only and overall home media charts with its release of Oblivion. The twisty, visually stunning film struggled somewhat in theaters last April, overcoming a lukewarm critical ...
• This Week on Blu-ray: August 6-13 - August 4, 2013
For the week of August 6th, Universal Studios is releasing Oblivion, which is Joseph Kosinski's flawed-but-fascinating follow-up to Tron: Legacy. Other releases include Jeff Nichols' phenomenal drama Mud, with its great Matthew McConaughey performance, the multigenerational ...
• Exclusive Giveaway: Oblivion Prize Pack & Blu-rays - July 30, 2013
Blu-ray.com and Universal Studios Home Entertainment are offering six members a chance to win a copy of director Joseph Kosinski's Oblivion. One grand prize winner will also receive a Universal Sci-Fi Blu-ray prize pack with three additional films and an Oblivion ...
» Show more related news posts for Oblivion Blu-ray
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