After an alien attack the world had to be evacuated. Technician Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) helps with the last preparations before the flight to Saturn's moon Titan, when some memories re-emerge from oblivion. Sci-fi adventure from Joseph Kosinski, director of 'Tron: Legacy'.
When creatures from outer space attacked earth in 2017, mankind had to deploy everything in order to survive - even nuclear weapons. Although mankind won to war, the moon was destroyed by the attackers and Earth became uninhabitable by nuclear radiation. Therefore, the tetrahedral spacecraft Ted prepares to fly to Saturn's moon Titan and build a new life there. All that's missing is enough energy, and this is produced from seawater generators. It's 2077 and in just two weeks it's finally time for mankind to leave their desolate home.
Yet, the technical ground personnel remaining on Earth faces resistance from some of the last invaders, who make great efforts to destroy the generators, and the drones which protect them. Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) and his girlfriend Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) repair the drones from a dizzily high basis under the command of Sally (Melissa Leo). But then the invaders send a signal into space and soon an alien spaceship crashes. Defying Sally's command, Jack examines the spaceship wreck and slowly memories re-emerge from oblivion...
"Oblivion" is the new film by commercial director Joseph Kosinski, who in 2010 gave his feature film debut with the sequel "Tron: Legacy" with a budget of 170 million dollars. His second film now cost only 120 million, but he could engage "Mission Impossible" star Tom Cruise for the lead role. Initially Disney wanted to do the film adaptation of the graphic novel, which Kosinksi has co-written in 2005. But when it became clear that the studio wouldn't get the desired PG rating, the project was handed over to Universal. Director Kosinski is also responsible for the screenplay adaptation of his own material as well as production.
And giving him his due: the story is quite gripping and exciting, despite some lengthy scenes, and the phenomenal images stylistically consistent and sound (see background). The excellent production design stands out particularly, recalling a bit that of "Wall-E" and "2001: A Space Odyssey". The home base, planes, drones, the folding bike, etc. are of minimalist beauty – and with the white shiny surfaces more than pleasing for the hip generation iPhone. Maybe this can give Apple some inspiration for their stagnant innovation.
Like the technology company, the science-fiction genre shows stagnation in regards to groundbreaking new ideas. Kosinski is said to have called his film a homage to the sci-fi films of the 1970s, but this also shows a lack of vision for the future. Apocalyptic scenarios have flourished for decades, mostly based on a kind of third world war, which brings the end of humanity, or enslavement. Filmmakers seem to be unable to come up with anything else ("Avatar" being an exception, and then again not an exception).
An example of the stagnation is the "Alien" prequel "Prometheus", which, after several sequels to the 1979 film, falls back on the story of the first instalment, merely copying it. Pretty much the same goes for the 2012 remake of "Total Recall", which, like "Oblivion", dealt with the continuity of identity and the reliability of memories. Despite some story (and design) changes to the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie from 1990, it still is all the same somehow. Some moviegoers might have similar experiences as the film protagonists: the might not be able to distinguish memories of earlier films and the current cinematic embodiment.
Obviously, it is realistic that today's technologies are only being enhanced in the future. And yet sci-fi fans crave for fundamentally new approaches and the previously unseen. Kosinski's film cannot quite meet those expectations. Nevertheless, "Oblivion" is addictive blockbuster cinema and a visual feast for those who do not mind the almost ubiquitous pathos and the Bruckheimer-like celebration of heroic moments.
"Oblivion" is the first movie to be mastered directly in Dolby Atmos, a new surround mix first applied at Pixar's "Merida", which won an Academy Award for Best Animated Film.
Other actors besides Tom Cruise in "Olivion" are Morgan Freeman („The Dark Knight Rises“, "Million Dollar Baby"), Olga Kurylenko („Quantum of Solace“), Andrea Riseborough („Brighton Rock“, " Made in Dagenham"), Melissa Leo ("The Fighter", "21 Grams") as well as Nikolaj Coster-Waldau ("Kingdom of Heaven", "Mama").
After the Electro duo Daft Punk could be engaged to compose the soundtrack for "Tron: Legacy", Kosinski now got M83 for "Oblivion". M83 mastermind Anthony Gonzales, a Frenchman now living in Los Angeles, wrote a bombastic orchestral soundtrack.