BY LAUREN NISBET
Skeptics may ask, what does Oblivion have to offer that hasn’t already been done a million times before? Dramatic panning shots of a post-apocalyptic earth, Tom Cruise involved in some kind of action sequence, a few futuristic weapons and high-tech living spaces – judging from previews alone, it’s fair to say that this movie is nothing more than a series of sci-fi clichés edited together and presented back to us as something ‘new’.
Unfortunately, the filmmakers seem to have been equally concerned about the lack of originality in the genre and chose to overcompensate with an excessive number of plot twists. As a notorious plot-predictor I can honestly say that there were surprises I did not see coming. On the other hand, predictability may have been preferable to the improbable leaps and surreal storylines following the momentary shock-value. True sci-fi fans may be able to suspend their disbelief long enough to appreciate the final scene, but those who are more logic-minded will be frustrated by what remains unexplained. The ‘romantic’ ending certainly left me with some important unanswered questions.
The visuals of the movie were clearly given a lot of thought, possibly as an extension of the unpublished graphic novel, which supposedly inspired the film. The New York Public Library and Empire State Building, both iconic American structures, half submerged in black sand and crumbling sink-holes make for some impressive backdrops, but the overall style of the film seemed less about artistry and more about catering to a blockbuster film audience.
I was disappointed to realize that the movie’s driving force is less about style or story and more on the star power of action fan favourite Tom Cruise (of whose career I have never been a fan – why are we so fascinated by this strange short man who over-acts every role he has ever played–including Tom Cruise? Come on people, Jerry Maguire was over-rated, lets get over it and move on with our lives).
To sum up, the viewing experience of Oblivion can be described as a cross between Vanilla Sky and Star Wars, combining the famous face and not-quite adequately explainable twists of one with the wardrobe and special effects (but none of the storytelling genius) of the other. If you’re a fan of Tom or in the mood to be moderately entertained, by all means check it out, but for a satisfying storyline you might be better off remaining Oblivious.
A media studies grad and pop culture junkie currently navigating the strange and mysterious world of corporate communications, Lauren spends most of her time buried under an ever-growing pile of TBR novels. Based in Toronto, she can be found at the local theatre every Tuesday for cheap movie night. Follow her on Twitter @laurenxnisbet