Movie Review: Oblivion

Often we hear that originality is dead. Or perhaps that is what we’re constantly shown. Whether it is the endless train of remakes, reboots or rehashes that come out across various types of media, originality may not be dead exactly but it clearly isn’t trusted to bring in the big bucks.

Having said that, I say originality is not dead. It exists and it is alive, even in places you might not expect. Even a remake can be original if done properly. Then there is the case of Oblivion, a film that is not a remake and not a reboot of any sort yet it has no original bones in it’s body.

Opening in a desolate and downtrodden Earth years after an apparent intergalactic war that the human race won but lost Earth in doing so, Oblivion follows the team of Jack (played by Tom Cruise in his 50th role as a character named Jack) and Victoria (played by the beautiful Andrea Riseborough). Jack and Victoria’s duty are to maintain drones that monitor the Earth and eliminate remaining enemies, also known as Scavs. Then twists, turns, etc. happen. The biggest issue of the many issues Oblivion has is the utter lack of anything original. Wall-E, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes, Moon, The Terminator, The Matrix, they are all in here someone in a stew of ripped-off ideas and lame story-telling. There are other issues Oblivion possesses such as plot holes, terrible dialogue and some blank performances but the true downfall is the unoriginality. The thing is, several truly great films borrow or pay a nod to other past films but they do not blatantly and shamelessly rip off like Oblivion does. Because of the lack of originality, twists and turns in Oblivion are easy to predict and therefore make the important things the film feels it has to show and tell come off as bland and boring instead.

Where Oblivion does strive and does succeed is in the visuals. The film is utterly gorgeous to look at and admire. Director Joeseph Kosinski definitely has my attention as a filmmaker when it comes to visuals but I just wish he had something better to go along with it instead of something like Oblivion. Other aspects of the film, such as the acting, are bland as well except for Andrea Riseborough. She has an utterly thankless role but still manages to pull some substance out of it and she is unbelievably beautiful and charismatic in the film. Tom Cruise brings none of his charm to the role of Jack and instead is simply a blank slate and he gets no real substance to chew on whereas Olga Kurylenko continues her run of roles where she gets to look sexy but also gets absolutely nothing meaningful to do.  Then there’s the much talked about M83 score which also comes across as a rip-off of Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy score, the Inception score and even some of the score from the Mass Effect games. It’s fun noise to listen to until you realize it’s the same thing you’ve heard in better movies.

So overall, Oblivion is such a bummer. It could’ve been fun, it could’ve been more interesting. Instead it plays everything safe and chooses to pick out the best parts of much better films and throw them all together in a boring and predictable mess. I wish I had something better to say than “it was pretty” when it comes to Oblivion but I just don’t.

Score: 4/10