2013 looks set to be a huge year for big budget sci-fi blockbusters and with ‘Oblivion’, director and co-writer Joseph Kosinski (‘Tron: Legacy’) has already set the bar pretty high.

The film takes place 60 years in the future after Earth has been invaded by an alien race known as the Scavs. The war has been won but Earth has been ravaged and mankind have abandoned the planet to live on one of Saturn’s moons named Titan.
Tom Cruise plays Jack Harper (not to be confused with Jack Reacher). an ex-marine commander turned mechanic who is part of an operation to mop up what’s left of the invasion and repair the robot drones that assist him and female companion Victoria (Andrea Riseborough). They have two weeks left of the operation before joining the rest of civilisation and their chief commander Sally (Melissa Leo) on Titan, but Jack is troubled and having recurring dreams and flashbacks from prior to the Scav invasion about a mysterious woman named Julia (Olga Kurylenko).
After a spaceship crash lands, Jack finds the same woman encased in a sleeping capsule and is subsequently captured by a rebel gang of human survivors led by Morgan Freeman who live out of sight of the alien threat.  The gang inform him that there is more to the war than meets the eye and not only is the woman he’s discovered the missing link he’s been waiting for, but he could also be the key to mankind’s fate.


While the plot from Kosinski resembles a mash-up of Pixar’s ‘Wall-E’, the Terminator films and a small slice of ‘RoboCop’ (the robot drones could be distant cousins of the ED-209), it’s the stunning special effects and sprawling landscapes that really stand out as spectacular.
Shot on location in parts of Iceland, the dystopian Earth in ‘Oblivion’ is as beautiful as it is menacing. The amazing cinematography, shot on the landmark Sony CineAlta F65 camera adds incredible depth to each shot while the CGI is as impressive as anything you’ll see this year.

Whether you love him or hate him, Tom Cruise is still one of the best and most reliable leading men in cinema today. With undeniable confidence and charm, he takes ‘Oblivion’ on his shoulders and carries it from start to finish despite some good support from British actress Riseborough. Morgan Freeman and Kurylenko are desperately underused but do enough with their screen time to make their characters memorable.

So, is ‘Oblivion’ a sci-fi classic in the making or merely an impressive looking action film? For the first 75 minutes, you would have to agree with the former but the final third of the movie falls in to more conventional story telling and loses some of the aspects that had made it unique. Surprisingly, the movie seems to shuffle towards an ending that feels low on tension and a little rushed. It lacks the dramatic impact that perhaps it was intending, a similar gripe I had with the ending of Kosinki’s ‘Tron’ movie.

Despite a couple of shortcomings, ‘Oblivion’ feels like the first big “event” movie of 2013.
It is a fresh and exciting blend of new school aesthetics that also contains enough knowing nods to movies of old to appease fans of “thinking man” sci-fi amongst the gun fights and explosions.
The combination of the two plus some solid action means ‘Oblivion’ is one not to miss, especially in the IMAX format.



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