TRON: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski’s latest “original” sci-fi film Oblivion is a disappointing failure of the highest order. Tom Cruise is mostly wasted in a film that does nothing more than show off its expensive budget and fancy set pieces. Oblivion is far from original, often-times stealing from previous genre efforts entirely and rarely ever constructing an idea or thought of its own. Kosinski has grown as an action director, but fallen flat on his ass when it comes to writing a script with interesting concepts and characters that serve a purpose that’s bigger than highlighting one of the film’s impressively-shot action sequences.
Jack (Tom Cruise) is a glorified janitor living in a futuristic world where Earth has been abandoned. The only thing left is the aftermath of an alien attack and Jack and a few others must work in rotating shifts to scan the globe and make sure that the maintenance drones are properly performing their day-to-day tasks. His mission is simple and it’s in that very simplicity that he constantly finds himself questioning each and every thing that is around him.
He also experiences strong dreams that hint at a past that he swears he once lived. These dreams, combined with what he perceives as reality makes Jack unbalanced and confused and almost always questioning higher authority.
One day while patrolling Jack discovers something that could possibly change his entire future and help give him a better understanding of his past and what it all means.
Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion is the latest big-budget studio sci-fi film to deem itself as original, yet in actuality is just another genre rip-off that we’ve seen a dozen times before. Oblivion‘s biggest problem isn’t even the fact that it rips off more than one idea from previous material, but much deeper in the film’s writing, which is mostly hollow and meaningless. The film’s story is fairly basic, yet when the twists and turns start to reveal themselves you’ll have a hard time acting surprised, because almost everything is telegraphed from a mile away. Every single scene in the film has been done before, if not better.
Kosinski has clearly grown as a director. The film’s action sequences are fluidly shot and displayed with a complete understanding of how to maximize any specific scene given such a budget, yet almost every piece of action is cold and lifeless, because nothing really matters. Tom Cruise’s Jack is just another simplified version of a character that Cruise has played before, only this time he’s much more of an “everyday” type of guy versus his usual bad ass persona.
Cruise does fine work as Jack, but is never challenged by his director. He clearly knows how to play Jack in his sleep and he does so with ease, but the film never reaches a point when its director is called to challenge his stars. Cruise seems more than willing to go the distance, yet Kosinski and his team of writers do nothing for him. They fill up most of the film with Jack cruising around in his aircraft searching for answers, but rarely finding them. And when he does, they’re obvious and carry little impact.
All that being said, the film looks and sounds spectacular. Kosinski fully utilizes the budget to give us some of the best-looking CGI of the year and he follows that closely with a score mostly composed by M83 that is reminiscent of the techno-fused Terminator days. Seriously, the set pieces are large and seem to go on forever, while the techno-fused score is a refreshing listen in a world full of traditionally composed films.
But that doesn’t save Oblivion from being a disappointing failure that’s predictable and almost always afraid to take any sort of risks. Director Joseph Kosinski clearly has a visual eye for constructing a sci-fi film that looks like it was lifted out of the 70’s, yet he completely misses the mark when it comes to capturing that same slow and steady pacing and reveal that made those films so unique and interesting.
Oblivion is typical Hollywood garbage on the inside, surrounded by an outer shell of stunning photography and excellent sound work. Once you see past the shiny effects you’ll quickly realize that Oblivion is yet another failed attempt at becoming something a little deeper than what we’re used to.
Universal’s 1080p video transfer is remarkably clean and mostly spotless. Black levels are always consistent, while the film’s lighter color palette boasts impressive clarity. Everything about this presentation is densely detailed and always stable.
The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is a winner too. This effectively mixed track comes pouring onto the screen with action sequences that are well-mixed and highly-detailed. Dialogue remains planted on the front channels, while the back ones open up for surrounding noise that is always loud and active.
Here’s a list of bonus material found in this combo pack:
- Audio Commentary
- Promise of a New World (HD)
- Deleted Scenes (HD)
- Isolated M83 Score (HD)
- DVD Copy
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
- Digital Copy
Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion is a disappointing failure. The film’s visuals are top-notch and the score composed by M83 is an engaging experience, but the film’s surface-level beauty rarely makes up for the lack of a well-written script. Even Tom Cruise can’t save a film that looks pretty, but is as hollow and pointless as most other studio affairs. Joseph Kosinski unfortunately still has a ways to go before his writing is considered polished enough to direct, even if he’s advanced a lot as a director since his last feature-length film.
Universal’s Blu-Ray release is pretty solid and even comes with enough bonus material to make this worth a blind purchase, but beware of the film’s disappointing quality before spending your hard earned dollars on just another forgettable piece of modern sci-fi.
Joseph Kosinski's Oblivion is far from original and instead acts as yet another genre rip-off that looks shiny and expensive, but is hollow and lifeless where it counts.