If all you want from a movie is to be wowed by special effects, then look no further than Oblivion.
With such an uninspired storyline, one would hope that the visual effects would be well done, and in that regard Oblivion doesn’t disappoint.
The story goes that there was a tribe of aliens who blew up the moon, plunging Earth into seismic chaos. War ensued, in which mankind was victorious, but the planet lay in such disarray that humans had no choice but to abandon Earth.
Tom Cruise plays the one-note protagonist, Jack Harper, who has been assigned to extract Earth’s dwindling resources before heading into space with the rest of the survivors. Shortly before leaving Earth for good, he stumbles upon a mysterious woman on Earth’s surface a woman he has seen in his dreams–leading him to question his mission and his own existence. What follows is standard post-apocalyptic sci-fi fare that drags on until a contrived, predictable ending.
What Oblivion lacks in a compelling story or fully-fleshed characters, it somewhat makes up for in visuals. There are some truly spectacular shots throughout Oblivion. Harper’s recon missions often find him soaring over pristine landscapes and some impressive, futuristic machinery, but there’s nothing stunning enough to forgive the stale second act and eye-roll inducing attempts at humorous one-liners.
Harper spends more time making quips to his dashboard bobble-head than actually interacting with other humans. The result is an agitating doldrum that leaves the audience begging for credits to start rolling.
One redeeming factor of Oblivion is the film’s score, composed by M83’s Anthony Gonzalez. M83’s spacey, atmospheric sound is a perfect match for Oblivion’s sweeping shots of outer space and a vacuous, decimated Earth. The track “StarWaves” in particular imbues M83s signature ambient sound, creating a bright spot in an otherwise dull experience. It might actually be a wiser investment to go buy the soundtrack than pay the price of admission.
Oblivion presents itself as a modern sci-fi epic, but is nothing more than a stylish amalgam of post-apocalyptic cliches. It’s as if the director threw as many sci-fi tropes at the screen as possible to see what would stick. The “villain-strikes-a-match-to-light-a-dark-space” schtick has been done so many times, seeing it in Oblivion was beyond cringe-worthy.
Great music and cool visuals might impress to a certain degree, but a stale plot and insipid dialogue will make moviegoers want to send this movie into oblivion.