Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Movie Review - Oblivion

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Oblivion, the movie, is set in the future, after a war in which Earth has been destroyed after a war with alien 'scavengers'. Cruise plays Jack Harper, a repair technician who is on a tour of duty on what is left of Earth; the rest of humanity has left for Titan a moon of Saturn. He and his partner Victoria (played by Andrea Riseborough) ensure that large hydrorigs that draw energy from the sea are in working order; they are aided in this duty by drones, which protect the hydrorigs from attacks by the scavengers, who supposedly still operate on Earth.

Atala's Review - I wasn't really sure about this movie when I saw the trailers. I know that for some people, Tom Cruise is a reason to go to watch a movie, but I worry that this means the movie will be long on mindless action and short on substantial plot. In this case I was wrong, and I was so pleased to be wrong.

The film starts slowly enough; we are treated to haunting, desolate landscapes of a wasted Earth as we watch Harper go about his day-to-day business of dealing with hydrorig failures. It becomes more interesting when he starts having dreams of another time on Earth - dreams in which there is a recurring image of an unknown woman. These make him wonder about what happened in the war with the scavengers, especially because his memory is supposed to have been wiped for security reasons. However, Victoria (who apparently is more than just a work partner) doesn't share his curiosity; she just wants to be done with the tour of duty so that they can both return to Titan for a well deserved rest.

The question of what really happened to the Earth sets the scene for the rest of the movie. When Jack goes to investigate the crash of a capsule from outer space, he makes an especially shocking discovery that completely turns his world upside down. From the on, the tension builds as bit by bit, we realize the awful, horrible truth about what actually did happen.

I liked this movie very much for so many reasons. There are touching parts where Harper recalls a lost time on Earth - a time of people and buildings and streets, a time of love and proposals on the top of the Empire State Building. There are questions about memory and identity; what makes a person the same person that you have known and loved in the summer of your life? The score captured the bleakness of the landscape in just the right measure. The action scenes were compelling, with the drones killing with deadly efficiency. And I especially liked the ending, about how the hope for a new togetherness can spring from the depths of loss.

Perhaps I should not have been surprised that I liked this, because it was very similar in many ways to another movie that I watched and enjoyed a while back - Solaris; that movie was also a sci-fi movie which had sparsely populated scenes and dwelt on the themes of alternate realities. Like that movie, this one made me come away thinking.

Atala's Score - Rather than cast this movie into the oblivion of my mind, I'll certainly remember it for a while to come, and I give it 4 stars out of 5.

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