review//OBLIVION

Grade: B+

OBLIVION
Directed by Joseph Kosinski
Starring: Tom Cruise, Andrea Riseborough, Olga Kurylenko, Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo

Tom Cruise can easily be described as "the most famous person in the world". While other world-famous stars like Julia Roberts have lost steam over the years, Cruise has somehow been able to stay relevant and famous, whether it's because of his acting abilities and films or his hugely publicized private life.

His newest endeavor is the science-fiction action piece Oblivion. Written and directed by Joseph Kosinski (TRON: Legacy), the story is set in a not-so-distant future after an inter-gallactic war leaves the moon destroyed and the earth's population living on one of Saturn's moons. Cruise stars as Jack Harper who, along with his partner Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), works on earth as security and repairer of machines left to regenerate earth's resources into energy for the population's new home. With just weeks left before their job is done and they get to return home, Jack begins to question the intentions of his mission and those in charge. With constant flashbacks to a woman on the top of the Empire State Building and questions rising, Jack begins to rebel against his mission in search for the greater good.

Cruise is in his element as the action star here. While the script is sometimes a little subpar, Cruise never loses his "I mean business" face as he races around in a post-apocalyptic New York looking for answers. Riseborough is innocent and sincere enough to play off of Cruise's hero as his collaborator, Victoria. When she feels he is becoming too negligent with his job, she makes a choice that ends up affecting her. The look in her eyes sells every moment she's in. Olga Kurylenko stars as the mysterious woman Jack sees in his dreams. When she shows up as the lone surviving passenger of a crashed spaceship, their relationship continues to open more doors into what is really going on. Morgan Freeman has a small, uninspired role as the leader of the scavenges hiding and fighting on the earth. While Freeman's star power and voice are enough to illicit a familiar approval, overall, anyone could have played the part.

Kosinski isn't necessarily new to the epic adventure seen, but the movie we're promised from the trailer is almost reached in the finished product, with disappointment along the way. Where style exists here, substance is sometimes missing. The twists throughout are meaningful, but also feel somewhat forced. The style, in fact, is the biggest reason to see the film. From beautiful and empty terrains to computer and living quarters that must've been designed by Apple, Oblivion's sets and props are incredibly visually stunning. My favorite kind of sci-fi or post-apocalypse film is the one that looks realistic and plausible. Where Oblivion could've fallen into The Day After Tomorrow territory with its destruction of New York, it falls into more of a broad and distant view.

My favorite thing about Oblivion, and the thing that worked the most (even more than Tom Cruise), is the film's soundtrack by M83. The band whose "Midnight City" is one of my favorite songs, is the most inspired part of the film. Each chord is brilliantly chosen to carry each scene perfectly. When Victoria and Jack share a midnight swim in their incredible pool, the music makes it what it is. At the same time, each action sequence or sweeping flight scene is only better because of the synthesized wonder that is M83.

Overall, Oblivion is a fun blockbuster that is smarter than it should be. While it wants to be included in the same strides as Children of Men or other genre-pushing apocalypse films, it falls somewhere above I Am Legend and below The Road, with a little Wall-E thrown in. Though flawed, as a big screen film, it's fun and worth the ride.

Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 126 minutes

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