Oblivion - Film Review
Time for a frank admission: I entered Oblivion with extraordinarily low expectations. I wasn't a fan of Joseph Kosinski's previous film, Tron: Legacy, in the slightest. Beyond the visuals and soundtrack, the latter of which supplied by Daft Punk and Joseph Trapanese, it felt hollow and underwhelming.
Thankfully, Kosinski seems to have grown as a director and has managed to deliver a film with all of the positive aspects of Tron: Legacy and little to none of the negatives.
Oblivion is an incredible treat for the eyes and ears which definitely benefits from a viewing on the big screen.
Apparently, Oblivion is based upon an as-yet unpublished graphic novel by Kosinki and Arvid Nelson, a fact that seemingly slipped through the cracks. Regardless of whether this was subliminal cash-grab aimed at the proliferation of "comic book" movies or a simple coincidence, we may never know. Regardless, Oblivion manages to deliver a feeling of scale that seems to be desperately lacking from many a modern day sci-fi film. In terms of story, there are a fair amount of plot holes that go unchecked, perhaps ones that would be answered in the comic. That said, most major questions are answered to a good standard as the plot unfurls through the 2 hour journey. Oblivion manages to be a great self-contained film and yet leaves the ending open enough to support a sequel.
Visually, this film knocks it out of the ball park. Kosinski and his band of visual artists have created a world that is both instantly recognisable and alien all at once. The destruction of Earth has left a barren wasteland and this main plot point adds to the scale and scope of the film. A lack of landscape is used almost like negative space, channeling the audiences focus onto more relevant points on the screen instead of incessantly bombarding the senses. Such stark landscapes also lend to a feeling of uneasiness which borders on agoraphobic. While the white firearms, uniforms, home interiors and motorcycles make it feel as though Apple must have finally conquered the Earth (iEarth), it also lends toward the classic "white means good" mentality, especially when we are introduced to the bad guys who are clothed in black garb. While not a particularly interesting design choice, the broadly used white colour palette is a distinguishing trademark for the film and the main character's journey can be followed by how dirty his suit gets.
In terms of music, Kosinski has again joined forces with Tron: Legacy collaborator Joseph Trapanese but instead of tapping Daft Punk yet again, he has introduced the audience to Anthony Gonzalez of the new-wave electronica band, M83. The soundtrack is certainly one of the stand out aspects of the entire production. Sounding like a mix of the Tron: Legacy and Mass Effect soundtracks, this score introduces a constant pulse which almost underscores the entire film. In fact, the drones that Jack maintains seem to speak the same language as Mass Effect's alien invaders, the Collector's.
Before rolling your eyes at the fact that Tom Cruise (Jack) leads the cast, hear me out. Ol' TC really does put in an admirable performance and shows that he can still pull off a heroic lead role. He manages just enough presence to draw an emotional attachment from the audience without overplaying his part. Most of the emotion, however, is elicited from Olga Kurylenko (Julia) who has cast off the shackles of "Bond girl" oppression and proves that she is leading lady material in her own right. Add to that a fantastic performance by Andrea Riseborough (Victoria) and you've got a thoroughly enjoyable film that all but demands to be seen on the big screen.
Oblivion is in Australian cinemas now.