Visuals and Music make up for a Lackluster Story
Oblivion is a sci-fi dystopian film starring Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman that...doesn’t really know what it’s going for. Is it going for a slow character study or an adventurous action film? It’s trying to do both and isn’t very successful at either. Because it is trying to be slow and study this character, Jack, the action is sparse and often not incredibly exciting. Because the film needs a certain number of action scenes to succeed, it doesn’t have enough character to really call this a character study. Visually, this film is really fantastic, so with some better storytelling, it really could have been a great film.
The beginning of this film introduces one of its biggest successes and one of its biggest downfalls. The entire first 4 and a half minutes of this movie are narrated. That’s a lot of narration. What is established through the narration is really interesting, explaining what has happened to the Earth and why, but I really wish there was a non-narrated way of doing so. Throughout the film, various characters have very long monologues about their story, the world, their feelings and their situation. Essentially narration but we can see them on screen. It really slows down the pace of the film and brings the energy of any scene down very far.
The main enemy in this film comes through the form of advanced drones that hunt and kill enemies while protecting some hydro plants. It’s very hard to connect in any sort of way with these drones because they are simply killing machines rather than having motives that a human could relate to. It draws away from the intensity of action scenes and instead of being somewhat afraid of the enemy, in this film, it’s just kind of there and I know they are going to lose. In film, a machine is far more expendable than a live being, so I can watch the heroes in Oblivion kill these drones all day with little to no remorse.
That leads me to the main twist of the story. I won’t reveal it, but let me just say it was very obvious. It took over half of the movie to get to this big answer that I had inferred within the first 10-20 minutes. It wasn’t just me either, my girlfriend had it figured out around the same time. Because it was obvious. Too much time in this movie was spent trying to trick us, when we weren’t really tricked to begin with.
There are two main female characters in this film, Julia and Vika. Both are not good characters and just pawns in the story of Jack. A majority of Julia’s lines in this film are just “Jack”. Literally, almost every line she utters is just the word “Jack”. We get it, he has a four letter name, it’s short, but that’s all she says! She’s hardly a character at all and just a pawn for the plot to continue. She hardly has a personality and no strengths to help the story progress apart from her just…existing. This film really is a bit of a Tom Cruise ego-boost. I can just tell. I don’t hate Tom Cruise, but I’m not his biggest fan. In Oblivion a lot of his acting is stale and rehearsed, I can just tell he’s acting, if that makes sense. It’s not great. I really think if this film had a different lead actor, maybe a less famous one, there would be more room for more characters to be developed and the film wouldn’t be about Tom Cruise, it would be about Jack Harper and the end of the Earth.
From all that, you could say, how is he giving this movie a 3/5. I really considered giving this a 2. However, visually this film is almost entirely fantastic. More than just really good, fantastic. From shots, to costumes, prop design, CGI elements, and the way the world itself looks, it’s all really good. I can’t fault the filmmakers for how this movie looks. It looks pretty great.
Overall, this film is 2 hours and really boring. The action scenes don’t offer enough energy to keep me fully engaged in the film while the slower bits are happening. The music is great, and again so are the visuals, but other than that, this film is awfully average. Would I watch it again? No, it was so long and boring, I almost fell asleep multiple times. Should you watch it? Only if you just really HAVE to see every Tom Cruise movie, if not, this is an easy skip.