Tom Cruise is indestructible, it seems. After escaping unscathed out of the Paramount fiasco, he now teams up with Universal to help create “Oblivion,” a sci-fi thriller that’s ambitious and breathtaking. In any case, that’s what was promised on paper.
Because “Oblivion” did hold promise–on a large scale. All the elements were there for serious, high-brow sci-fi entertainment: a namesake graphic novel adapted by the don dada of sci-fi geeks Joseph Kosinki (he resurrected “Tron” two years ago), Tom Cruise on the bill, a mind-blowing trailer, and the film’s visual scenery pulled right out of Dante. Clearly, sci-fi cinema’s reputation was supposed to be on the up and up thanks to “Oblivion,” but unfortunately this turns out to be a missed opportunity.
“Oblivion” first and foremost pillages everything that has been done before in this genre, just not as well. Watching “Oblivion” one is reminded of “I am legend,” “Wall-E,” “War of the Worlds,” “Total recall,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “The Matrix” “Independence Day,” and many others, still. Not content with merrily scavenging from all these other works, the film strangely strives to avoid having any atmosphere. There’s so little of it, in fact, that you start to wonder if this omission wasn’t actually a part of the director’s vision (and yet, the sci-fi universe offers great possibilities in terms of immersiveness). Unlike films like “Alien,” “Blade Runner” or “Terminator,” to name a few, which all managed to give cred to the incredible and win us over “Oblivion” is D.O.A.
And the problems don’t stop there.
The other major kink with “Oblivion” is the screenplay, a feeble piece of writing which vascillates between confusion and inconsistency, failing to make the story believable or interesting. When considering that the source material was oh-so-strong you wonder if Kosinski did not decide to sacrifice it on behalf of the studio, or the film’s omnipotent star. A total failure of a film.