This week’s movie review is Oblivion, which stars Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman. Both Violet and Josh provide their takes on this futuristic movie that kicks off what looks to be an exciting summer for movies. We avoided any big spoiling plot devices, so if you are on the fence about this movie, check out our reviews!
One Girl’s Perspective:
Tom Cruise stars in the sci-fi action flick Oblivion, which takes place in the year 2077, 60 years after aliens attacked the Earth. As his introductory voiceover explains, we won the war, but lost the world, which is now a desolate, uninhabitable place due to the destruction and radiation left behind as a result of the war. Those who survived have gone to live on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. The humans are using enormous machines to convert the Earth’s saltwater into energy to take back to Titan. Cruise’s character, Jack Harper, and his partner Victoria (“Vica,” played by Andrea Riseborough) are on the “mop up” crew on Earth, whose job it is to repair drones which seek out and destroy any scavengers (“scavs”) who are still running around on Earth, trying to sabotage the collection of energy.
The pair lives in a glass penthouse in the sky, complete with a glass bottom pool. Their outfits, as well as the interior of their home, are very sleek and monochrome, giving it a real futuristic feel. Each day they determine which drones are missing or in need of repair, then Jack takes his flying spacecraft (which we saw in person at Wondercon!) and tracks down those drones, administering any necessary repairs, while Vica stays at home and essentially acts as his air traffic controller, guiding him toward the drones. They have two weeks left on their mission, after which they will be returning to Titan. Vica is looking forward to returning, but Jack isn’t quite so ready to leave. As Jack goes out on his missions, we see the haunting ruins of New York City, including the stadium where the last Superbowl was played in 2017, the Brooklyn Bridge (now mostly buried) and the Empire State Building (also much of which is buried). Jack seems to enjoy spending time in the ruins, and he also has a secret cabin by a lake in an area that is still lush and green.
Jack and Vica don’t remember anything about their pasts, as they have had their memories routinely wiped as a security measure. However, Jack keeps having dreams in which he meets a woman at the Empire State Building before the attack, and he can’t get her out of his head. One day, a spaceship crash lands and Jack goes out to investigate. He finds several humans who are still asleep in their hyper sleep beds, and discovers that one of them is the woman from his dreams! Jack rescues the woman, whose name is Julia. When Julia wakes up, they tell her what has happened to Earth in the 60 years she has been asleep, and she demands to go back to the crash site to retrieve the flight recorder so she can find out what went wrong. Eventually, Jack agrees to take her.
What happens after that is a whirlwind of twists and turns, with new information getting thrown at you left and right, not leaving you much time to process and digest it. There is so much going on in this movie that has elements of several other sci-fi movies, which I would name off the list of titles, but I don’t want to give anything away. The ending especially is so very similar to a certain movie which I will not name, but once you see it, it will be obvious. The beginning of the movie is quite slow paced and tends to drag, so that by the time things start to pick up, the movie feels like it is really long, although it is only just over 2 hours. Despite all of this, I must admit that I did enjoy the movie and watching the mystery unfold, as well as the action and the visually striking post-apocalyptic scenery. If you’re a sci-fi fan, I would definitely recommend seeing this movie, even if only to compare to other sci-fi movies. There’s a lot to take in and think about during this movie, but don’t think about it too much, or you’ll discover lots of plot holes and unanswered questions. I have not read the graphic novel the film is based upon, however, so I cannot compare the film to that, and it is possible that the graphic novel may cover these discrepancies. Oh, and one more thing, Vica’s eyes were dilated the entire movie, to the point that it was distracting. Try to ignore that, if you can.
My rating: 7.5/10
One Guy’s Perspective:
This week’s movie review was a tough one. We saw Oblivion this weekend, which I thought was going to be a guaranteed hit with me. This movie stars Tom Cruise, and Morgan Freeman (kind of anyway–more on that later). While Tom Cruise can be a little crazy, he does make (mostly) great movies. Add in a cool sci-fi genre action film, and what could go wrong? Unfortunately, Oblivion missed the mark for me. There are some really good parts to the movie, but I felt the movie had some pacing issues, with the beginning going really slow and then packing in a lot of stuff to think about at the end. Then there are the implausible parts of the story. Then there are the downright unbelievable parts of the story.
The year is 2077, and we open with Tom Cruise narrating a history lesson, telling viewers a brief synopsis of historical events up until the movie’s present timeline. Our protagonist Jack Harper seems to do maintenance checks of drones, repairing any damaged ones he finds, which are constantly threatened by the “Scavs”–an alien race that has invaded Earth, and is trying to drain it of its resources. We also learn that these Scavs destroyed the moon, which created massive tectonic and climate changes on Earth. Jack Harper and Victoria (Jack’s teammate), along with the drones are the security force that defends the now mostly vacated Earth while gigantic machines siphon the oceans into huge tanks that are supposed to be transferred to Titan (one of Saturn’s moons that has one of the closest environments to Earth, but still uninhabitable with current technology). A massive satellite that orbits the Earth called “Tet” provides instruction and drone assistance to Jack and Victoria, and will also be taking them to Titan in two weeks, when their “shift” is done. We learn that Jack and Victoria have been memory wiped for “security” reasons, and that Jack Harper has dreams that he feels are more than just dreams.
If I were to read the above synopsis of the premise of the movie, I would be very intrigued. Unfortunately the execution is poorly played out. The first 30 to 45 minutes feel really slow and occasionally has moments that feel like they are about to lead into some excitement, only to fizzle out. We finally get some excitement when Morgan Freeman joins the movie. Unfortunately he is barely in the movie for maybe 15 minutes of the entire film. Why market a film as having Morgan Freeman when he is barely in it?
The second half of the movie was pretty enjoyable. We finally have some story progression. I don’t want to spoil anything for those who have not seen the movie, but the revelation that Jack Harper has is when the movie begins to actually feel like it is going somewhere, which begins with the rescue of a woman that has crash landed in his sector of patrol, that he ultimately rescues. Unfortunately, while the second half provides a lot of twists and turns, and some excellent action scenes, I feel when actually thought about, the movie doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and really hard to accept. I feel like the movie was trying to throw so much in at the end, it hoped you wouldn’t spend time analyzing the plot.
As for the acting, all actors involved I felt did a great job with the story they were given. Morgan Freeman did well, although his short amount of time actually on screen almost seemed like a cameo. A fun treat was seeing Nikolaj Coster-Waldau who also did really well for the small he played (Jaime Lannister for you Game of Thrones fans). The special effects were excellent along with the topography of the post apocalyptic Earth. The scenery and technology all fit well, feeling futuristic, yet still believable. Also, if you like Tom Cruise you get more than you bargained for in this movie (you’ll get this after you see the movie).
Overall I was a bit underwhelmed by the movie. With the dual powers of Tom Cruise and Sci-Fi (Minority Report/Vanilla Sky/Mission Impossible/War of the Worlds, etc.), I would have thought this movie would have been a home run. Perhaps I overhyped the movie for myself, but with the slow paced beginning, flimsy plot, a villain that was really hard to accept as plausible, and what I can only describe as “information overload” at the end of the movie, I have to give this movie a 6.5 out of 10.