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Oblivion Review: A Ruined Earth Never Looked So Awesome
Oblivion is the story of Jack Harper (Tom Cruise, playing another Jack character. What’s up with that?) and Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) the “mop up” crew left on an earth shattered by a war with aliens. They watch over the drones that guard the massive machines drawing seawater for conversion into fuel. They need the fuel so that the remnant of the human race left in the “Tet,” a space station so big it’s a visible landmark in the sky, will be able to get to Titan (one of Saturn’s moons) and join the rest of humanity there, leaving earth behind forever. Sound slightly complicated? Well you haven’t seen anything yet, and then there are the plot twists I can’t even tell you about without ruing the movie.
The drones get attacked at night by the Scavs, the race of aliens that we fought against in the war that left earth barren and scorched. Jack repairs the drones, who never suffer more than minor injuries like the theft of their power cells or somehow being shot out of the air without any major damage. The drones, despite being machines, appear to resent Jack fixing them. More than once it looks like they might just give him the old ED 209 (from Robocop) treatment and blow him away despite his repeated shouting at them so they can confirm his voice print.
Jack’s companion, Victoria, never leaves the glass-walled base in the clouds where they live. She scans the maps and sends Jack to the drones that are downed, as well as interfacing with the Tet. The two of them are a romantic couple, spending their nights swimming naked in their glass bottomed pool and eating dinner by candlelight.
Jack is fascinated with the artifacts of the old societies of earth, especially New York City, where he spends a lot of time combing the ruins. He collects relics, which is technically against protocol, and keeps them in a secret location that he keeps begging Victoria to visit with him, despite the fact that she keeps refusing. He’s definitely the more adventurous of the pair, and she the more cautious; when he brings her a flower he found growing because he thought it was pretty, she throws it over the side of their high platform because it could’ve been toxic. The implication here is obvious but important in a number of ways later on in the film, and it’s a nicely done moment that shows you the clear differences between their characters. There’s another neat contrast between Victoria and Jack. When he comes back from his missions on the surface, he’s dirty and sometimes bloody while she remains perfectly clean, never touched by the planet she’s so far above.
Oblivion is part Sci-Fi adventure, part mystery, which means there are things I can’t get into without ruining the film for you. I can tell you, though, that the hyper-realistic look of destroyed earth and the wide vistas make this a real must-see in Imax if you can. The drones have a weight to them on the screen that makes them believable even when I’d bet they were CGI in most of the shots. The shots in the tower had screens that projected cloud images behind the tower to light it correctly as well as produce a realistic environment you couldn’t get with green screen.
I loved everything about Oblivion, from the ruined world they created to the surprises and twists revealed throughout the film that made this stand out as not just another Sci-Fi movie background for Tom Cruise to play in front of.