Friday, October 18, 2013

Movie Review: Oblivion

I was real hesitant about watching Oblivion, staring Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman (although I was more interested in Olga Kurylenko).  It didn't have a very high Rotten Tomatoes score (not that that's been much guide, lately), and it was directed by Joseph Kosinski who directed TRON: Legacy which I thought was pretty much just a light show with a thin veneer of plot.  If it hadn't been for Olivia Wilde, there would have been no reason to watch it.  And the premise seemed dumb as I understood it (post apocalyptic, Cruise is some sort of technician helping the planet, oh, I bet there's gonna be some environmental preaching going on).  I saw a trailer for it when I went to see the Hobbit last December and was totally unimpressed.

Also, the first disc we got from Netflix wouldn't play (we spent 40 minutes trying to get it to play, cleaning the disc, rebooting the player, updating the player's software) and then we lost the replacement disc and spent an evening looking for it (I'd accidentally thrown it out).  So it took us a while to get around to watching it.

So, this was a lesson in not relying on first impression.

Oblivion is a good movie.  It's not great but it is good.  And without giving away spoilers, it's hard to explain how good it is.  The effects are very good and you forget that they are probably CGI but you don't care.  Cruise does a great job, as does Andrea Riseborough (Ms. Kurylenko's talent was wasted on her role, I thought).  There's action, suspense, and . . . no, I can't give it away.  Sometimes the action gets over whelming and the action sequences run long (and one looked a lot like the ending sequence of TRON: Legacy).  And Morgan Freeman has seemed to have slipped into the "old wise man character" type-casting.  Some of the visuals are a little over-the-top.  The Empire State Building buried in silt up to its observation deck, for instance, while the Brooklyn Bridge is mostly visible.  The Pentagon has a crater in the middle of it as if it was nuked but somehow the rest of it survived.  And it and a leaning Washington Monument are the only buildings visible in Washington D.C. 

However, if you like science fiction you should really enjoy Oblivion.  If you don't like science fiction, you would still probably enjoy it, especially the character study of Riseborough's role, who is trying to hold things together as, in her view, Cruise goes a bit wacko.  And there was no environmental preaching or anti-military propaganda.  There was really nothing offensive in the movie at all (unless you don't like looking at the backside of a naked female).

One last note (and call me sexist but I don't care), Olga Kurylenko is a very beautiful woman (see Quantum of Solace) but it seems director Kosinski did his best to keep her looking plain.  Maybe he didn't want her to outshine Riseborough  (who has an odd beauty, as if you can't quite figure out what makes her beautiful, you just know she is) but if Kurylenko wasn't in baggy overalls she was in a plaid button-down shirt.

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