Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

April 24, 2013

Oblivion lacks the punch to achieve sci-fi greatness

Ryan Maddux & Andy Stuckey
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — This week we checked out the latest Tom Cruise action film, Oblivion (PG-13).

Cruise plays a worker responsible for harvesting resources off of a deserted Earth after a war with an alien race. Morgan Freeman and Olga Kurylenko costar, while Joseph Kosinki directs.

Ryan: Compared to other recent sci-fi movies Oblivion is not as interesting as Source Code or as dramatic as Looper or as ambitious as Prometheus. While it doesn’t have that “it” factor, Oblivion is still a serviceable sci-fi flick. It looks great. The performances are adequate and there’s (arguably) enough action and drama to keep one entertained. While the ingredients were there for a more complicated sci-fi thriller those elements never take to fruition, and ultimately the movie is not as smart as it aspires to be. Oblivion is best viewed superficially. That may sound harsh, but the movie really only works through a heightened suspension-of-disbelief. I’m not saying one has to turn off their mind to enjoy the movie, but that certainly wouldn’t hurt.

Andy: This movie is intriguing in the sense that, as Ryan points out; there are many elements that seem to suggest a great sci-fi movie. However, it just doesn’t quite pan out that way, and I’m not sure why. The concept is pretty interesting, and some of the visuals are quite stunning. Shots of the sky with the moon half-exploded, bits of it stuck in its own orbit, make for an interesting post-human world to contemplate.  Even the big twist (no spoiler here) that is revealed about two-thirds of the way through the film is a great concept. With all that said, I could not help but feel bored for most of the time I was in the theatre.

Ryan: Tom Cruise will never be Tom Cruise again, but I do respect his ability to give everything he’s got in a given performance. I realize some people will never warm back up to him and I respect that but he’s still an accomplished actor capable of delivering notable performances. Oblivion has its issues, but most of them are put to the back burner by the strength of Cruise’s performance. This isn’t his best sci-fi inspired performance (that would be Minority Report) but he’s very comfortable on screen and that eases many of the narrative shortcomings (lack of a compelling villain, uneven pacing and a resolution that’s too neatly tied up).

Andy: I know Tom Cruise is great at being an action hero, but I think part of the problem with Oblivion is that there are no characters for the audience to relate to. Cruise’s character is supposed to be that guy, but it is hard to take him as a character at this point; he is just that action star that people either despise or feel indifferent toward. But he is always Tom Cruise. Of course we know that he is the hero and that he will persevere, but we are never able to connect with him on a human level, so it is hard to get emotionally involved with the narrative. In a film that, at its core, is supposed to be a celebration of humanity, lacking a human connection from the star is hard to reconcile.

Oblivion checks all the right boxes for a good sci-fi movie, but its lack of heart holds it to a B-.



— Daily News