Oblivion (2013)


Earth is a memory worth fighting for.

    So, it comes to me via recommendation, and it comes from me as an interesting movie that I can't elaborate on too much. You see, there's quite a few twists in the plot of this movie, so that means I'll either need to spoiler block things for your safety, or just skip over it entirely. Granted, it's certainly a good flick, so I can't just write it off altogether, and everyone likes a challenge right?

    Jack (Tom Cruise) is a talkative person - as his thoughts play out and explain the state of the world to us as a narrator in the opening scenes of the movie. You see, Jack has dreams, dreams that he shouldn't have when the main base wiped his memory, and in these dreams he's back on earth before the war - before the Scavs (short for Scavengers) showed up and everything went down the garbage shoot. You see, the Scavs destroyed the moon - something bad enough in it's own right - which in turn wrecked havoc (earthquakes and tsunamis and the works) upon our little planet. Amid all the devastation, the Scavs launched their attack on Earth with the inevitable use of nuclear munitions as our counter offensive, leaving the earth a radiated, destroyed mess from which the human race had to flee. First step along that trip was the Tet - a giant pyramid like space station - followed by the long journey to Titan (one of Saturn's moons).

   Of course, it's not all easy there, so the Tet is picking up the remaining water supply from planet Earth and taking them along for power, and it's Jack and his partner Victoria's (Andrea Riseborough) job to keep all the (armed) drones up and operational to keep the pumps safe from the remaining on-world Scavs. It's a straightforward job, and the duo are pretty good at it, but Jack can't get over his dreams that keep playing back. Are they dreams, or are they in fact memories? Things are complicated even more when the Scavs bring down an old shuttle craft, and among it's human passenger cryo-pods Jack finds the literal woman from his dreams. From that point on, things start getting twisty with the plot, but rest assured it is a wonderful trip and it should surprise a good deal of you.

   Like a good sci-fi movie though, it's not all about the fabulous plot. We get a glimpse at things familiar yet wrong - like devastated Earth's landmarks- that aren't so far off as to say they couldn't happen, while getting to see things that do seem as though they are a bit further off in the distance such as the rather heavy-duty weaponized drones. Drones that can literally disintegrate a creature by shooting it once. They also seem to have a hard time recognizing Jack throughout the movie, although that isn't to say he's constantly getting attacked, but rather in a slightly "scary" situation as the drone mules over who he is for a minute or two, which feels reminiscent of modern technology being finicky. Weaponry that Jack comes outfitted with also borders on the real, and throughout the film the most impressive items end up being his "sky house" (and super awesome pool), the "dragonfly" ship he pilots, and his nifty little collapsible bike that gets stolen by Scavs.

"...the world is pretty well destroyed, and has been for a while."

   The scenery does a great job giving the impression that the world is pretty well destroyed, and has been for a while. This sets up a wonderful contrast when the movie introduces us to Jack's hiding spot (a nice forested area near a lake inside of a canyon where the tracking beacons and fancier electronic monitoring items don't work, giving Jack a little peaceful me-time), which is quite lush and pleasant to the eye. Likewise, monument -type locations give us a glimpse at something that is both recognizable and foreign from it's destruction - like the New York Public Library - that are wonderful sets that help add to the feel desired at the time (in the case of the aforementioned library - it's pretty darn creepy).

   Outfits are also worth mentioning, not so much from the aspect of Jack and Victoria's rather mundane numbered white jumpsuits, but more from the Scavs' elaborate costumes, making them appear to be these tribal creatures in space-capable gear. Each one appears to have a bit of a custom job to it - some have these glowing eyes, complete with spy-looking goggle attachments on the helmets, others look vaguely like the Predator . As far as the dreams, everything looks remarkably normal, what with them being about modern times.

   Music here is a nice mix of synthesizer and recognizable classics (well, if you are into good music anyways). Of note, although the more catchy tunes are the classics (assuming you know them) the sometimes synth-heavy songs are the ones that do the best at getting you to feel  the mood of the current on-screen event. It probably surprised me a bit more than it should have, but a lot of times you get heavy with synthesizer tunes in movies, it ends up all coming out sounding more like noise then it does actually musical pieces, so I'm glad in this case it went beyond that. Audio is also pretty well polished, much like the rest of the film, and despite what your personal opinion of Tom Cruise is, the guy is an excellent actor (and the rest of the cast do a pretty wonderful job as well).

"...I'm not sure why this movie wasn't a huge box office hit..."

   In the end, I'm not sure why this movie wasn't a huge box office hit - maybe the modern audience just doesn't like science fiction, or maybe they can't handle movies with twists and turns in the plot that make you think. I loved it, as it ended up being far  more than just the future-set action movie I had originally thought it to be, and although it was a rather twisty creature as far as the plot goes, I didn't much have a hard time following any of it - which is to say it may spring a lot of surprises on you, but it's never super-complicated about it. When the credits finally roll, you aren't left confused, you aren't left begging for a sequel or prequel to explain things, your just happy with having watched a satisfying movie - and that my friends is what it's all about.

Oblivion @ IMDB

Starring Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau