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DVD Review: Oblivion

August 6, 2013

Oblivion Blu-ray CoverOblivion – A Universal Pictures’ Release

http://www.oblivionmovie.com/splashpage/index.php

DVD Release Date: August 6th, 2013

Rated PG for violence and coarse language

Running time: 124 minutes

Joseph Kosinski (dir.)

Karl Gajdusek (screenplay)

Michael deBruyn (screenplay)

Based on a graphic novel by Joseph Kosinski

M83 (music)

Tom Cruise as Jack

Morgan Freeman as Beech

Olga Kurylenko as Julia

Andrea Riseborough as Victoria

Our reviews below:

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Oblivion DVD Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

The year is 2077 and Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is an astronaut left to clean up our abandoned planet, under the guidance of his partner Victoria (Andrea Riseborough).  They accept the coldness of the world around them, but Jack is haunted by memories of a mysterious woman (Olga Kurylenko), and his reality is shaken when he meets Beech (Morgan Freeman), a rebel leader fighting for survival who helps expose the shocking truth.

Although parts of Oblivion feel a bit underdeveloped and the screenplay borrows elements from superior influences such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and WALL•E, the film does offer quite an entertaining ride once things really take off.  Directed by Joseph Kosinski, who gave us the visionary Tron: Legacy back in 2010, the story offers some intriguing twists and turns that do warrant a valid discussion.  Tom Cruise delivers another strong performance in the leading role, solidly playing against the visually stunning set designs and cinematography.  The interesting music by M83 matches the striking visuals of the film and Oblivion looks spectacular in high definition.

The Blu-ray includes commentary with Joseph Kosinski and Tom Cruise, a lengthy five part documentary on the production and several minutes of deleted scenes.

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Oblivion DVD Review By Erin V.

***1/4 (out of 4)

Oblivion is not what you think.  The trailers are cut like a fast-paced resistance army based action movie with the last survivors on Earth taking back the planet from alien invaders.  It’s not…

Unfortunately, I can’t really say much of what it is since you really should just watch the movie knowing as little as possible – even the quickly edited trailers show a fair bit more than I would have liked, since many of the action pieces they take are from further on in the film.

When Oblivion opens, it is a quieter than expected film, following the WALL•E-esque Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) as he goes about his job of repairing drones on the now disaster ridden Earth.  He lives in a Sky Tower with his partner Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), who runs the computer for his missions down on Earth.  She is also their connection to Mission Control (Melissa Leo), who gives their orders via video chat.  Victoria follows the orders easily, but Jack is haunted by what he believes to be memories of his past, fragments of something he can’t quite remember.  And it is his time down on the surface that he relishes, finding old books and other objects among the rubble that he uses to try to piece together a past forgotten.

By the mid-point in the film, Jack begins coming upon things that Mission Control would prefer he never saw.  And by the last act it leads him to question everything he thought he knew, the memories he can’t control, and his very existence.  Is he really the individual he thought he was?

If that sounds confusing, I am perhaps being as purposefully ambiguous as the film itself turns out to be.  The last hour or so of the film reveals twist after twist until by the time we reach the end, we’ve watched something very different than we thought we were for the first hour of the film.  In some ways, we are left with more questions than answers.

For those interested in sci-fi, the film is quite interesting and they’ll probably want to check it out.  Homages – or copies – of elements in other famous films (WALL•E, 2001: A Space Odyssey, etc.) are noticeable throughout, but Oblivion is well-enough done to handle these throwbacks even if they are obvious at times.  The production and set design is gorgeous (as is the cinematography), with a very interesting contrast between the desolation, but also beauty of Earth, along with the futuristic vehicles and buildings (Bubble Ship, Sky Tower…).  The score by M83’s Anthony Gonzalez, and Joseph Trapanese, matches the film and is quite effective at times.

While Oblivion leaves you wondering what the filmmakers were trying to say, as well as what you feel the film really is about, it manages it in such a way that I didn’t necessarily mind the ambiguity I was left with.  There is certainly something worth checking out here – and I’ll leave it up to you to decide what you feel you are left with by the time the film finishes.

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Oblivion DVD Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Oblivion is an interesting sci-fi film that has some complex twists.  It’s 2077, sixty years after a nuclear war has left Earth in ruins.  Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is an astronaut living on Earth.  Everyone but Jack and Vika (Andrea Riseborough) have left Earth for Saturn’s moon Titan.  Jack’s job is to fix drones, heavily armed flying robots designed to destroy everyone but him.  But when Jack finds a human survivor, Julia (Olga Kurylenko), he begins to remember his past.

Sound familiar?  Yes, this film is practically like WALL•E up until this point, right down to Jack’s pet plant.  However, unlike WALL•E, things get really strange and Oblivion begins to explore some deep philosophical questions.  This is a visually stunning film.  The camerawork, architecture and spacecraft are all really impressive.  The dialogue is decent and the acting is good.  The twists are also quite interesting.  However, they leave more questions than answers, even to the point of questioning why Earth even got to this point in the film.

I wish that the film had explained these concepts better, and had delved more into the philosophical questions.  But overall, Oblivion is a fun and visually beautiful film, that will become a discussion topic long after the movie is over.

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Oblivion DVD Review By Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

It’s the year 2077 and the Earth looks like the opening scenes of Pixar’s gem WALL•E.  Neither space pilot Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) nor his partner Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) remember what happened on Earth sixty years earlier, since all post-war Earthlings were required to have a mandatory memory wipe.  Except Jack keeps having flashes of recognition when he discovers a pod containing a woman named Julia (Olga Kurylenko) on one of his space shuttle missions back on Earth for routine drone repairs and checks.

Writer and director Joseph Kosinski (of Tron: Legacy fame) has created a visually captivating sci-fi world in Oblivion.  Everything from Jack’s really cool shuttle to his clean and sleek home with Victoria, portray an appealingly futuristic world.  However, as the plot unfolds with its many twists and turns, everything is not as it seems.  The sometimes confusing plot is the one aspect of Oblivion that make this a less than perfect film.  The pace is also a little slower moving than the trailers would have you believe, although the action does pick up considerably in the second half.

The performances are all good with Tom Cruise being quite believable as the serious, non-stop motion astronaut Jack Harper.  Morgan Freeman is also fun to watch as a mysterious Earth dwelling Scavenger.  The performances and strong cinematography are backed up nicely by the interesting score by M83.  Sci-fi fans will recognize many elements from other films, from WALL•E to 2001: A Space Odyssey, among others.  Whether this “borrowing” is an homage to other films or blatant copying depends on your point of view.

No matter how all the pieces come together, Oblivion is still a visually entertaining and often thought provoking sci-fi film worth checking now that it’s available on Blu-ray.

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Oblivion DVD Review By Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

Oblivion begins with Jack Harper (Tom Cruise), a drone tech living in Tower 49 with com tech Victoria (Andrea Riseborough). It is 2077, sixty years after an alien invasion that destroyed the moon and much of Earth’s surface. With most humans moved to the Saturn moon Titan, drones under orders relayed by Sally (Melissa Leo) from an orbiting space station called the Tet[rahedron] kill off any remaining alien “scav[enger]s” depleting Earth’s resources. Jack mainly gets around his work sector including the ruins of New York city in a futuristic sort of helicopter called a bubbleship, repairing drones that have been crashed or vandalized by scavs.

On one occasion, Jack finds himself in the wrecked New York Public Library where he just manages to escape from scavs. Despite a preservice memory wipe, Jack has been getting pre-war flashbacks of a mysterious woman and taking brief respite periods in an isolated cabin off the grid. One day he discovers a crashed spacecraft with humans in delta-sleep pods being terminated by drones. Jack manages to rescue only one, the woman Julia (Olga Kurylenko) of his flashbacks, but they are then captured by “scavs” who turn out to be human, led by Beech (Morgan Freeman). I won’t spoil any of what follows, with interesting twists right to the end.

Based on his graphic novella and only the second feature (after TRON: Legacy) directed by Joseph Kosinski, Oblivion weaves a number of elements admittedly borrowed from other recent dystopic sci-fi stories into a tale that works well on its own terms. Starting off slowly, though never without suspense, there is lots of action later on, that despite the twists largely avoids the confusion of other plots such as Looper on its way to a satisfying outcome.

Moreover, the film is beautiful to watch. The scenery, shot partly in Iceland and with exterior tower views projected from images taken atop a Hawaii volcano, is breathtaking. Interiors within the towers and library ruins are also impressive. Against these backgrounds, the special effects are brilliant. The drones are spherical killing machines, whose super manoeuvrability is matched only by the bubbleship, for which a full size mockup was constructed including a cockpit with authentic controls (specified by Cruise, a trained pilot) mounted (as in Pacific Rim) on a gimbal capable of rapid 3-axis rotations with the talent strapped inside. As a result, during a Star Wars dogfight with multiple drones the obvious fun experienced by Top Gun Cruise equaled only by passenger Kurylenko’s unease lend particular authenticity to their performances.

In summary, the Oblivion disc would make a good addition to a family collection. Despite being a bit too mature for Disney, which passed in favour of Universal, aside from some coarse language there is really no objectionable content in a story that anyone other than very young children can enjoy.

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Consensus: Although the screenplay borrows elements from other sci-fi classics, Oblivion is an entertaining film carried by solid leading work from Tom Cruise, with a story that offers some interesting twists and boasts spectacular visuals.  *** (Out of 4)

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