In 2017, a big interstellar war broke out between the earth and an alien empire the humans call “Scavengers”, or “Scavs”. Humans won the war but the earth was left lifeless, a high radiation level deemed the planet uninhabitable for humans. Now it is the year 2077 and there is nothing much left on the barren earth, except for its ocean. Humans now live on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, but they have a few huge machineries sucking the water left in the earth’s ocean to be used for the humans’ survival on Titan.
Tom Cruise plays Jack Harper (he’s been playing so many Jacks lately), a technician placed on earth to oversee the water-sucking project and repair any drones—flying circular robot weapon thingies—that.. well, need repairing. He is teamed with a woman named Victoria, or Vica, who stays in the floating, futuristic crib (complete with a pool) while Jack does his daily check-up routine of repairing drones and Vica also makes sure that no Scav could creep behind Jack and kill him. In two weeks, both will get out of the deserted earth and fly back to Titan. Prior to their mission, both Jack and Vica got their memories wiped off, to ensure that the team will stick to their jobs. However, lately Jack has been haunted by some images in his dreams. Images he is not supposed to have—of himself with a woman, in a pre-war New York.
Oblivion has got Tom Cruise flying a smooth, white small spacecraft all over an apocalyptic wasteland. He’s got Andrea Riseborough to go skinny dipping in a (really cool) pool with, and the beautiful Olga Kurylenko to fall in love with. Seem like a good enough offer? Well, not really. Oblivion sure has got pretty slick visuals, the film is filled with everything white and clean and futuristic, and oh, did I mention the cool pool? The world building is strong enough, the movie takes its time to introduce us to the new earth gradually and I enjoyed getting to know it. But you can actually get the twist coming a few steps earlier than the movie intended, and when it comes, it doesn’t really do anything to the movie. Don’t get me wrong, I actually don’t really mind recycled ideas. Recycle all you want, if you can still package it right and put your own touch into it, it can still be a good movie. But this time it really lacks any personal touch. The characters are not engaging enough for you to care for them, the revelation about the alien in the end is underwhelming, the action sequences are.. meh. It tries to be something more than a hollow sci-fi flick but alas, it turns out to be just that. Kurylenko is a very beautiful woman but I find her to be expressionless in this movie, which can be a turn off at times. Tom Cruise gets to play his usual alpha male charisma, but I guess the only Cruise sci-fi movie worth remembering is Minority Report. Now that’s one hell of a sci-fi movie—cool visual effects, strong characters and most of all, a smart storyline.
The one thing I enjoyed though, is the pacing. The movie is 124-minute-long and despite my overall placid feeling towards the movie, I still think the careful pace helps build the foreign world. Although, when you think about it again, with only two characters on the screen for the first hour or so, there isn’t much to build on anyway. The movie reminds me a lot of Duncan Jones’s 2009 sci-fi, Moon. There are some unmistakable similarities but also a huge difference—Oblivion may have the big bucks and the impressive CGI, yet Moon doesn’t need any of them. Jones possesses a distinct voice in the sci-fi arena, something that Oblivion director Joseph Kosinski lacks. Like Kosinski’s debut feature Tron, Oblivion offers nice, cool imageries but, like Tron, it is also rather uninspired.