Sunday, 14 April 2013


Oblivion IMAX [Review]

Opinion: B

By Jason Lin

Arresting visual imagination is what one gathers from filmmaker Joseph Kosinski's only second feature film, Oblivion. Effectively devising a credible post-apocalyptic feel throughout an original realm constructed by Kosinski's vision, impeccable production values are also instilled through sight and sound that warrants a larget format experience. Kosinski's vivid science fiction imagination does however fall short of constructive narrative fluidity and content to further give viewers a greater rationale in appreciation of its already compelling aesthetics.

Tom Cruise stars in Oblivion, an original and groundbreaking cinematic event from the director of TRON: Legacy and the producer of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. On a spectacular future Earth that has evolved beyond recognition, one man's confrontation with the past will lead him on a journey of redemption and discovery as he battles to save mankind.

With just a previous feature production under his resume, Kosinski is firmly telling the community that he is a competent genre filmmaker. Showcasing visionary flair through detailed construction of various production elements from the set to costumes and props, Kosinski captivates viewers with a heightened sensory experience of earth during the 2070s.

Capturing footage in the US and Iceland, Kosinski isn't a sci-fi filmmaker who relies heavily on visual and special effects to deliver. Carefully scouting for actual set locations further enhances possibilities that software tools and techniques may not be capable of. The ruined debris of a baseball stadium feels so much more authentic with the scene being shot on location in scenic Iceland. This helps to portray his filmmaking range as his previous film TRON: Legacy was one that relied much heavily on effects.

If only he adopts similar strategy towards Oblivion's narrative department.

Adopted from Kosinski's own graphic novel, it is certain that visual concepts hold a dear spot within his mind and intentions. With a loose plot that doesn't seem to be keen in developing details, the film's story may fall flat for most seasoned viewers. A great science fiction classic doesn't derive solely from stunning concepts but also a captivating story with memorable characters.

Thanks to Tom Cruise' magnetic screen presence, even the most mundane task he performs looks so interesting. Cruise also has apt knowledge of physical reenactment of combat stances during close quarter and rifle-wielding contacts. The rest of the characters (sadly yes, not even Morgan Freeman and Olga Kurylenko) however seems to be having insignificant roles who are scripted to mouth a few liners for screenplay progression purposes. Andrea Riseborough on the contrary, impresses with her edgy performance as Cruise's remote assistant from base during Cruise's droid maintenance missions.

Thematically there isn't much to observe less for scenes depicting earth in an impoverished state where rigs are deployed to draw up valuable life-sustaining resources. There are also certain subtle references noted within characters' dialogues hinting at nuclear warheads' adverse impact on human life and environment despite being utilised in defence of earth and mankind.

Purely motivated by concepts, it is a pity that the science behind all the fancy mechanism at work isn't detailed for an addition dimension of knowledge. There is a pod-like aircraft manoeuvred by Cruise's character and curiosity may be subjected towards the technology (i.e. is it solar-powered given earth's resource-lacking state?)

Without further to retain the audience's attention, Oblivion deploys a few more technical credits in other departments for the job. Take the soundtrack (by Anthony Gonzalez, M83, and Joseph Trapanese) for instance that has a groovy hybrid feel of futuristism and contemporary, much similar to Kosinski's TRON: Legacy scored by Daft Punk albeit less impactful.

At the end of the day (and perhaps the world), there is a plot twist that serves to engage the audience towards the end. Hoping to enable certain food for thought, one may either savour it tastefully or regurgitate with certain degrees of confusion. This opinion finds it rather savoury albeit not one warranting a complete genre satisfaction that is expected of Oblivion.


  1. I'd heard the story was a little thin. Will still probably see this one in the theater.

  2. I was surprised how much I liked it. It delivered where last year's Prometheus failed IMO.

  3. A dense movie with some very good performance and logic ..but then story contains some illogical facts and quite a few loop holes.......... but then again the way movie describes human emotion and technology is good


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