Who’s a pretty bore, then? Joseph Krosinki, who wrote the seminal masterpiece Tron: Legacy writes and directs Oblivion – based, allegedly, off the source material of the same name. We learn during the end credits that this was a graphic novel.
And fittingly, Oblivion is what I would describe life as being if every film in the cinema till the end of time was written and directed by Kosinski.
It’s 2075, or something, about fifty years after a war that ended in nukes being deployed and levelling the Earth to rid ourselves of an attack by an alien force. A lot of what we know has now been submerged big time under a bunch of rubble, and only the tops of buildings now indicate where we are. We live in giant apartment blocks suspended in the sky – but most of us have sodded off to one of Saturn’s moons to live. Because we all know how that place has breathable atmosphere and stuff. Jack and his partner, Victoria, are a double-team partnership; she sits behind a giant iPad masquerading as a coffee table, directing Jack as he ventures to the Earth’s surface to repair drones. Or flying ED-209s, as I comically referred to them as during the film to my wife.
Turns out things are not as they seem: Jack has visions of his life pre mandatory memory wipe. Anyone who’s ever seen a film before knows something’s rotten in Denmark, and then Olga Kurylenko and Morgan Freeman enter the film acting, as they do, as the film’s Morpheus and Trinity respectively.
I remember someone jokingly referring to this film as “live action WALL-E” (I forget who you are, sorry) but that’s a true statement. Instead of a robot cleaning up junk, we have Tom Cruise repairing ED209s. There’s no-one around. Until there are others around, and then it becomes even more excruciating.
Needless to say, the special and visual effects are ball-achingly good. Korsinski can shoot visual elements quite well. He needs to work on the story and script.
As I was sat there watching scene after scene of Cruise talking into his wrist or earpiece, and shortly after the midway point passed, I looked down at my phone – only fifty minutes had passed. Yeah, this is one of those films; where time runs slowly on screen than in real life.
Here’s the biggest issue I have with the film: you may recall a movie starring Audrey Tatou called “Coco Before Chanel” which, for all intents and purposes was the foreign language drama equivalent of “Transformers Before the Robots”. I sat there, again with my wife, bored out of my cranium. On the way out she asked me what I thought – and I remember saying “What’s the point of showing us Coco before she became Chanel? The movie stopped before the good stuff started!”. Same thing is happening to Oblivion. Could we not have seen the fight that wiped out most of mankind? You can bet your bottom dollar that the first half an hour would have been more thematic had Krosinski hired Roland Emmerich to direct this.
It’s more a case of “Post Oblivion” – the Oblivion has already happened, some time ago. What unfurls on screen here is significantly less interesting. Tom Cruise narrates the set-up to the tune of ten minutes worth of screen time, and everything he’s saying seems like it would have been a blast to sit through.
What remains is awkward, but admittedly pretty, waffle. And it’s nearly two hours long. And way too confusing, unnecessarily. And what’s all this about Andrea “The Only Way is Essex” Riseborough being everywhere these days? She’s the real find in the film – after the awful Welcome to the Donkey Punch, she plays her co-lead for all its worth and is reasonably convincing.
Goddamit this film is an insufferable bore. I can’t think of a funny epilogue or sarcastic quip right now, it’s getting late so I’ll do the film a favour – I’ll put as much work into the final moments of my review as the film did with its ending; go see Olympus Has Fallen instead
Review by: Andrew MacKay
OBLIVION… is out at Cinemas now. Join the debate on our Facebook group… http://www.facebook.com/groups/filmsploitationpodcast/