Film review: Oblivion

An alien invasion leaves earth confused with memories forgotten.

In the late 21st Century Earth is invaded by aliens who shatter the moon into Space rubble and send Earth into chaos. After a nuclear war against the aliens, Earth is left unrecognisable and most of humanity has left for a new home called Titan. All, that is, apart from two companions, Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) and Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) who are left on Earth to maintain the drones that protect the large machinery harvesting the Earth’s resources for their new home. However, Harper is haunted by dreams that are more like distant memories involving a mysterious woman, and when Jack is confronted by the woman in his dreams he starts to question not only his reality but his identity too.

Full of spectacular scenery, as the film was set on location, and fantastic special effects that allow for magnificent images of a shattered moon and sound effects that will get your heart racing, Oblivion is a treat for the eyes. However, the narrative, after a beginning that overloads the audience with information, seems to move slowly and rather self-consciously, perhaps due to the fact that director Joseph Kosinski does not invest enough time in developing the characters. In a film that focuses its narrative primarily on themes of humanity and identity, it does not give the audience fully rounded characters to invest their interest in. Therefore, despite presenting the audience with a realistic and fantastical sci-fi world the film fails to confront the issues surrounding a man that seems to have lost his place in the world. The issues raised around identity involving the question of what makes us human are simply touched upon, resulting in a lack of depth in the film. Oblivion is a film adapted from the comic book that Kosinski wrote many years ago, which might explain its attention to the spectacle over the characters involved.

For Tom Cruise, disappearing behind a character’s identity becomes increasingly hard as we clearly see in Oblivion as Harper becomes not much more than the man playing him. Morgan Freeman’s role on the other hand seemed far too minor, as the actor is not given much screen in comparison. The film takes many twists and turns and keeps you guessing, but the lack of character development results in a disappointing climax.

Oblivion may impress with its visuals, but it will fail to engage with you. With its emphasis on the visuals this sci-fi is no more than an easy watch.

Written By Shirley Welton, who also blogs at Beyond The Edges of The Frame.

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