Like him or not, Tom Cruise doesn’t generally make bad movies. His flicks are slick productions, designed to be Tom Cruise vehicles. Oblivion, Cruise’s return to sci-fi, is no different, but is it any good?


Joseph Kosinski

Writers- Michael Arndt, Karl Gajdusek, Joseph Kosinski
Based on comic book by Joseph Kosinski and Arvid Nelson

Tom Cruise … Jack
Andrea Riseborough … Victoria
Olga Kurylenko … Julia
Morgan Freeman … Beech
Melissa Leo … Sally
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau … Sykes
Zoe Bell … Kara

Oblivion could be called a grow’d up version of Wall-E. Following an alien invasion and subsequent catastrophic war, which left Earth essentially uninhabitable, Jack and Victoria are the only people on earth, and their mission is to maintain the monitor drones. Then, two weeks from completing their mission and rejoining humanity on Saturn’s moon Titan, things get complicated.

Aside from Cruise in the lead, Oblivion boasts some talent behind the camera too: directed by Tron:Legacy’s Joseph Kosinski; produced by Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes producers; and between the writers they have brought us TV’s Dead Like Me, Toy Story 3, Little Miss Sunshine, and the forthcoming Star Wars Episode VII.

This new world, and its history, is quickly and effectively explained in the opening minutes, as Cruise’s Jack narrates over spectacular shots of destroyed landmarks, which show the extent of the devastation. This pre-title sequence hints at the strengths of this movie: the star; the clever writing; and the impressive direction. Not all are perfect, but they do work well together to create an enjoyable movie.


This movie is about the story, not so much the action. There are a few good action sequences, mostly involving the Drones, and they actually serve the plot, which is a rare thing in movies these days. Based on director Kosinski’s comic, this is a clever sci-fi story that slowly escalates the drama. The Moon stuff is a very nice touch. It is not overly over the top, instead is quite a small tale told on a big canvas. While the story is, at the core, a simple one, the final act does offer a few nice surprises. Not world beating twists, but a nice kink in the story here and there. Interestingly, I don’t think there is any footage of the final act in the trailer, which I think is brilliant. Admittedly, some of the dialogue is a bit flat and repetitive (drink every time you hear “effective team”), and the story could probably be tighter, it is still a well written movie. Another fault could be that it is HEAVILY influenced by other sci-fi movies, to the extent that you are a bit distracted by all the “Oh, that’s like the movie Such-And-Such”. 2001, Wall-E, Star Wars, Planet Of The Apes and many many more are present, as well as others that I won’t reveal, for the sake of spoilers

It is also a good looking movie. The vast, devastated landscapes are very impressive, as are the smaller more sterile scenes in the observation tower, which was clearly designed by Apple. The movie starts out predominantly white, and slowly gets darker, dirtier and grittier over the course. There is some very nice camera work too, suitably epic looking, and eerily symmetrical. It’s refreshing that the movie isn’t in 3D, even if some of it could have looked great, particularly the drone chase in the canyon, and the drone attack later.


The special effects are brilliant. Not stand out stunning, but instead are really believable. At no point did a shoddy effect take me out of the movie, shattering the illusion of what I was watching. The sound effects are an important part in maintaining this mood too, as the silence of the wasteland is noticeable and kinda uncomfortable, while the sound-effects for the drones are cool and scary. They sound like demented Speak-N-Spells. The music is worth mentioning too, as it is reminiscent of Daft Punk’s Tron:Legacy score, although it isn’t quite as good. It sets the tone nicely, even if it is a bit 80′s at times. Plus, it’s always nice to hear a Zeppelin song in a movie.

Then comes the cast, which is small but good. Tom is good, as usual. Charming, sympathetic, and engaging as Jack. That said, if you don’t care for Cruise then there’s nothing here that will change your mind. This is Tom Cruise as Tom-E. Freeman is simply Freeman, which is good as always. He brings gravitas to his brief role, even if he doesn’t seem to bring too much enthusiasm. The two girls are pretty good too: Bond girl Olga Kurylenko is quite hot, but kinda hollow; Andrea Riseborough gets the better acting role, and as a result shines brighter. Keep your eye out for Red State’s Melissa Leo, who isn’t used much but is still brilliant, and Game Of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.


So… There will be comparisons to Wall-E, because of the central premise, and because the drones look a little like EVE, and because Jack cares for a rescued potted plant, but aside from those this is obviously a very different film. Oblivion looks cool. The stars are on good form. The story is quite good, even if it’s influences are incredibly obvious, and the last act has some good moments. It isn’t action packed, but what action there is is good. Much like Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes this favors story, and story telling, over lots of action and unnecessary explosions. But this isn’t as good as RotPotA.

Oblivion is not a classic, and won’t be remembered as being anything special, if it’s remembered at all, but it is a good movie.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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What to say...born in the last year of the seventies, the decade of the best music and movies, Cathal's earliest memories are of movies and comics. Star Wars, Batman, Superman and Indiana Jones filled his childhood, and not a whole lot has changed. He lives in Dublin, with his supremely understanding wife. Cathal voice his opinions across the various corners of The IntarWebs: @CatHaloMovies on The Twitter; Cat Halo Movies on The FaceSpace; and on the Major Spoilers Forum, where all manner of opinions are aired by all manner of folk on a wide variety of topics.

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