Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

April 25, 2013

‘Oblivion’ starts off vague, but delivers constant thrills

Movie Review

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat

Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — There may never be a day where science fiction is fully given the attention and praise it deserves from the highest and mightiest of award shows, but for moviegoers it continues to deliver some of the most celebrated moments in cinematic history. Even better, as the technology we use to watch said epics improves, the quality therein only seems to make even more of our imaginations possible.

This entry seems to be on purpose a blended tribute to those flicks cherished above the rest, redone with the latest special effects, and just enough twists thrown in to not reveal it all in the previews. However, what will make this actually a fun ride and a majority of popcorn munching material like this is not having a ton of expectations or preconceived biases against a certain couch jumping actor. That said, “Oblivion” ended up being slightly better than average and carries with it a story that lets you help solve the mystery scene by scene.

Set place on Earth in 2077, we are given the impression that the planet has pretty much been left uninhabitable after a war with some invading force and humans are either on Saturn’s moon Titan or a nearby giant space station. Left behind to help collect resources like sea water to power the space station or mop up remaining alien scum is Commander Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) and his communications officer Victoria Olsen (Andrea Riseborough).

Though Jack seems fine following most of the orders, which includes repairing attack/defense robot drones, he starts to question whether leaving is such a good idea once he discovers how said drones turn out to be actually going after humans still living there. After saving one person, Julia Rusakova (Olga Kurylenko), who seems to resemble someone in a strange reoccurring dream and running across an entire underground village led by Malcolm Beech (Morgan Freeman), he instead decides to embark on a new quest to find answers. While it takes most of the film to finally provide clarity for where the heck everything is going, when it does wrap up, one feels satisfied and ready to pass around the fist bumps.

I’m sure there are far more references to other science fiction movies than the ones that come to my mind, but the two that seemed there the most were “2001: A space Odyssey” and “Mad Max.” As you get further and further along, the people hiding seem only to survive by scraping up what little materials are left and hints arise for a villain that is watching over instead of being there right in front of you.

About the only thing that bugged me was how Victoria couldn’t annunciate a syllable to save her life and through mumbling became the most disposable character, which was actually made up for by one of Cruise’s best performances in years. It’s relatively tame in content, perhaps best for those teenage or older, and something I may watch again to see if I can pick up what I missed. In the end, I’d say the final verdict for “Oblivion” is three out of five apocalypses.

Movie viewing experience courtesy of the Royal Twin Theater of Pauls Valley.