Wall-E, Moon and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Oblivion should be mentioned alongside these great science fiction motion pictures. Not due to it being as good as them in any way (far from it) but because it shamelessly borrows plot points from them. In the distant future, Jack Harper (Cruise) is a tech maintenance operator on a dead earth. He lives with his wife (Riseborough) in a sort of space station and soon they are to rejoin the rest of humanity in space after their work is complete. Though all is not as it seems, as we discover when the droids that are meant to protect human life start attacking some crash-landed earthlings.
Joseph Kosinski who brought us Tron: Legacy takes another stab at the sci-fi genre here with what is arguably a more accessible film. It doesn’t require the knowledge of a cult 80s movie to enjoy it, but it would also be better if you’d never seen a sci-fi film before. Every plot point has been done to death, the lack of originality is stunning and should give the audience the creepy feeling of déjà vu. Yes, you have seen this all before. The plot almost has a mechanical feel to it, there is never an enjoyable or entertaining twist or turn or event or line of dialogue. However, it’s lack of originality does one thing in it’s favour, because we are so familiar with the films it borrows from, it feels quite easy to watch even if we aren’t thoroughly entertained by it.
Despite his inept storytelling techniques, you can’t fault Kosinski on his visuals. The world Kosinski creates is just as vivid and exciting as the world from Tron: Legacy, maybe even more so. He clearly has a knack for detail and knows how to put $120m on the screen, even if his action set pieces leave much to be desired. Unfortunately, the life he has poured into this dead earth (bizarre, I know) has left little energy for the creatures that inhabit it. Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman seem to be on autopilot and even though the wonderful Andrea Riseborough makes her first blockbuster movie appearance here, she leaves the film at the midpoint and is sorely missed for the rest of the runtime.
Despite the films mentioned above that Oblivion shares similarities with, the film it seems most linked to is John Carter, another woefully dull science fiction that felt dated and unoriginal but this is slightly better due to it not looking like an odd cartoon come to life. It’s not completely inept but doesn’t really deserve your time or money. Hopefully Oblivion will just inspire Hollywood to put Andrea Riseborough in more films and then it will have served its purpose.