Oblivion

Updated: Nov 4, 2021

Do you have vivid dreams? The kind of dreams where you can see clearly as if you are experiencing it with your awakened eyes? In your dream, you see a beautiful woman standing not far away, looking at you on the crowded pedestrian walkways of New York. She's beautiful. You smile at her...


You wake up next to a woman who is not that woman in your dreams. You get up, prepare for the day, and hop into your aircraft and set about your job as one of only two people on a ravaged planet. The only things besides yourself and your partner are the drones you maintain, machines that turn seawater into fusion energy, and the remnants of the defeated army. The war was won, but the planet was lost. In two weeks, you will leave this place and embark on a one-way trip to Titan, humanity's new home.


Before you leave, a ship crashes with one survivor. That survivor changes everything you know as you realize that you are trapped in...

 

Oblivion (2013)

Directed by: Joseph Kosinski

Written by: Karl Gajdusek (screenplay), Michael Arndt (screenplay); Joseph Kosinski (graphic novel original story)

Music by: Anthony Gonzalez, Joseph Trapanese

Stars: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Melissa Leo

Watch on: HBO Max

Review Alpha 9.9.21.0009

 

What goes together almost as frequently as peanut butter and jelly? That would be Tom Cruise and action-based science fiction movies. However, just like the brand of bread, peanut butter, and jelly can significantly affect the quality of the sandwich, a script, movie making, and what Tom Cruise you get can make or break a movie. In Oblivion, we get the SciFi version of a PB&J made with Great Value ingredients.

Tom Cruise is Jack Harper, a.k.a. Tech-49, a drone technician assigned to Outpost 49. his job is to repair drones that need routine maintenance or are damaged from attacks by the remnant army of aliens called Scavengers. In the war that was, the Moon was practically destroyed, affecting the Earth. Between the ensuing natural disasters and the use of nuclear weapons, most of Earth is inhospitable.

Backed by his partner Victoria Olsen, Jack and Victoria are "an effective team," doing their jobs each day. On this particular day, Jack sets out to recover and repair a downed drone. As he restores it, he is watched by two Scavengers, mysterious creatures in all black, and speaks an alien language. Jack repairs the drone, which comes online, scans the area, and leaves. These drones aren't meant to have a personality, but if they did, they are assholes.

When Jack doesn't repair drones, he flies around the perimeter of their zone. Markers on the H.U.D. (heads up display) show the radioactive zones that will kill Jack if he ventures into them. But Jack has his secrets. In addition to having a flower in a can, Jack has also created a hidden cabin in a canyon. We see that parts of the Earth are still beautiful. Jack has a collection of old books, records, and other artifacts. As Jack ponders how much he will miss the place when he leaves in two weeks, he is interrupted by the explosion of a spacecraft breaking up upon entry into the atmosphere.


Jack investigates and finds a few survivors. However, Sally, Mission Commander aboard the "Tet," have been tasked drones, a giant spacecraft orbiting Earth where the rest of humanity. The drones arrive and kill all the humans except one. That one? Holy Hell, it's the woman Jack dreamed of!

Jack brings her to the outpost, where he convinces Victoria to give her medical treatment. At dinner, Julia insists that she needs to recover the flight recorder on her ship at dinner. While Victoria is adamantly against it and wants to report to Sally, Jack is sympathetic to Julia and takes her out early the following day, where they recover the flight recorder.

During the recovery, Jack and Julia are captured by the Scavengers. As it turns out, the Scavenger party is actually human, led by a man called Sergeant Sykes. Sykes brings them to their underground bunker, where they meet the leader, Malcolm Beech. Malcolm tells them a very different story about the war. The Tet is actually an alien craft. The Scavengers are actually what is left of humanity. Jack and Victoria are clones, including ones used to invade the planet from the Tet.

Naturally, jack does not believe it, even when Julia tells him that she is, in fact, his wife. However, since it has been over 70 years, there is no way Jack would be as young as he is. Jack and Julia escape and cross into a radiated zone after a dogfight with some drones and are shot down. While tending to Julia, a craft like Jack's lands, and out comes another Jack Harper, Tech-52!

I'm kicking my own ass, do you mind?

The two Jacks fight, with 49 winning the brawl. He stabilizes Julia and then returns to the scavenger's base. To get Julia the medical help needed, he agrees to transport a nuke to the Tet in an attempt to destroy it. Breaking cover, Jack contacts Sally and says he is coming in with Julia. Jack states that he and Julia are a "more effective team" than Jack and Victoria. As he travels to the Tet, he listens to the flight recording from Julia's ship. As it turns out, Jack, Julia, Victoria, and the others were an astronaut crew sent to investigate an object near Saturn. As they approach, the ship is captured in a gravity pull from the strange ship. Despite their best efforts, the ship is unable to escape. Jack, the pilot, goes to eject the living quarters compartment where everyone is in hypersleep. At the same time, Victoria, the copilot, secures the controls. With the rest of the crew safe, Jack and Victoria enter the Tet when the flight recorder ends recording.

As Jack enters the Tet, he sees thousands upon thousands of clones of himself and Victoria in stasis. As he lands, Jack and Sally have a conversation about life's meaning. Jack tells her the story of Horatius, the mantra of this movie. Jack lands and takes out the container with Julia. Instead, the container has Malcolm. Jack ends the conversation with "fuck you, Sally" as he and Malcolm set off the nuke, destroying the Tet.

Three years later, Julia is at Jack's cabin with her daughter. A group of people approaches the place, the former Scavengers now lead by Sykes. They arrive with a gift - Tech-52. He muses in narration, and the film closes.

 

Oblivion is a movie that had so much potential but falls so flat. Effects-wise, they are good. The scenic landscapes are excellent, the drones are actually pretty cool in a robot monster kind of way, and the Tet is kind of cool. I really wanted this story to work out, but it just doesn't.

When making a great peanut butter and jelly sandwich, use a quality brand like Smucker's and freshly baked bread. Sadly, Oblivion went to Walmart and bought Great Value brand, slapped the sandwich together, and asked us to eat it. No thanks!


Warp 3 on the SciFi Drive.

 

Next Review: They Live! (2012)

Please share your thoughts on Oblivion.


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