After his debut in the world of Hollywood blockbusters with his sequel for Tron, that brought him recognition and acknowledgment especially for his unique visuals, director Joseph Kosinski finally had the chance to give birth to his long cherished brainchild, Oblivion.
Although Tron has not become an all-time classic, it is a spectacular movie with a strong atmosphere that brought a huge income to its makers. Taking into consideration that its original from 1982 was mostly a success among the sci-fi nerds and only later became a widely-known cult-film, its remake was a risky venture. However, Kosinski managed to create something out of it that was entertaining and easily digestible. The film recruited new fans to the world of Tron, and gave credit to Kosinski.
This credit allowed him to make his new film, Oblivion, a movie he has been planning for seven years. Here we are dealing with a more complex story than in the case of Tron. After earth has been attacked by an alien race, the Scavengers, the human population that survived emigrated to the Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, as Earth became a nuclear wasteland. There are only two people, Jack ( Tom Cruise) and Victoria( Andrea Riseborough) who stayed fulfilling the task of fixing and supervising the drones that subtract important sources from the planet, such as, water and oxygen in order to transport them to Titan. They have two weeks left, before they depart to join the others on Titan, when a mysterious Nasa ship crashes and he meets Julia( Olga Kurylenko). He also gets abducted by the Scavs, which encounter poses a new question to him: Are they the real enemy?
As we can see we are dealing with a kind of familiar but interesting story. This, combined with the visuals of the trailers and the posters made up a promising mixture of a great spectacle and a thought provoking script. Sadly, the film fails to meet these expectations. Besides its splendid visuals, the movie is a disappointment from all other aspects. The characters are typical Hollywood clichés, such as, the man who try to accomplish his mission although his moral solicitude, meanwhile feeling that he is destined for more (Cruise), or the woman who loves this man, but who dedicated herself more to the mission then to him. Cliché characters result in cliché conflicts, making it impossible for the viewer to identify his or herself with anyone who appears on the screen. In addition to unrealistic characters comes the script that contains so many illogical momentums disrupting the flow of the film, each of them so badly that one cannot get engaged by the story for more than the first half hour of it. The ending is also solved by a worn-out and simplistic scene that only aims to close the film as fast as possible without providing the viewer with any kind of explanation, leaving behind a sense of emptiness. However, in the case of this primitive Hollywood blockbuster it is not the kind of thought provoking emptiness, that one has to fill up with his or her own imagination. It is rather the feeling of being tricked and blinded by clichés and spectacle with no real ideas and content behind them.
The film has one positive aspect, which is the design of the machinery that appears in it. All the drones and the plane used by the main character, has realistic movements, and a unique look which basically creates the atmosphere of the film in itself, by standing in contrast with the bare and empty post-apocalyptic landscape. This part of the film is really niggling, it is obvious that the makers of the movie worked a lot with it. However, it is not enough to save the illogical script, and the week directing.
All in all, if one still has some expectations for high-budget Hollywood movies, this film will be a disappointment for him/her. It is another instance of wasting good ideas for the sake of earning huge amounts of money. But wouldn’t the film earn the same income, if it was made a little better, with a little more caring? I hope the answer is YES, it would. Otherwise Hollywood functions perfectly in serving out low expectations of an undemanding and omnivorous audience.
By: Máté Müller