Dick De Jong
August 1, 2013
Oblivion is a Tom Cruise movie, pure and simple, which is not a bad thing, especially if he beats your tom-tom.
Still buff and bouncing about, Cruise (as Jack Harper, Drone Technician, Skytower 49) is in almost every frame of the film, even performing his own stunts to the torment of his seemingly ageless 50-year old body.
Even before Director Joseph Kosinski helmed his first film, TRON: Legacy, he had produced a graphic novel on which Oblivion is based.
Rather than supply specific spoilers to this stylish futuristic saga, let me offer references from Cruise's oeuvre as a guide to what to expect from Oblivion.
The tour begins back in 1985 with Legend (Cruise as Jack saving the world - a theme that repeats for the next 30 years).
Perhaps most similar to Oblivion's Jack is Top Gun's Maverick, (both flying and fighting, Jack with a lot less macho swagger).
Morgan Freeman replaces A Few Good Men's Jack Nicholson (questioning if Cruise can handle the truth).
Finally, allusions are rife to Mission: Impossible 1, 2, 3, 4 ..., (action, stunts, more action, more stunts), Minority Report, (cool video displays), War of the Worlds, (alien machines), and Knight and Day, (motorcycles).
You get the idea. This time, he has a supporting cast including the goth-like clad Morgan Freeman, the translucent eyed Andrea Riseborough, the dreamy Olga Kurylenko, and Melissa Leo with one of the most benignly malevolent demeanors.
I liked the movie, though you may need to rewind occasionally to keep up with some of the finer plot points, especially if you are distracting yourself by tweeting your BFF.
Then again, if you have a muscular surround system, the aggressive soundtrack should keep your eyes front and center, which will be rewarded because the bleak landscapes are bewitching and the elegant sets and ships are enchanting on this Blu-ray.
The Extras on the Blu-ray are worth your time as the producers obviously spent a lot of effort to present content that is informative and entertaining.
The feature, "Promise of a New World: The Making of Oblivion" is divided into five chapters.
The first, "Destiny" chronicles a major element in the film which is the contrast between the minimalistic, pristine Skytower where Jack and Victoria (Riseborough) reside and the desolate landscape of a ravaged earth.
Kosinski seems to love the unadulterated, Zen-like abodes for his protaganists. Both Oblivion's multi-level version and Flynn's aerie perch in TRON: Legacy provide tranquil respite from the harsher realities below.
Attempting to shoot as much of the film in camera, the construction team built a full scale Skytower with detail down to the scissors in the medical kit. It was then enveloped by a 42-foot high and 530-foot long screen with skyscape footage front projected on it.
For the barren landscapes, cast and crew were transplanted to Iceland.
In the second chapter, "Voyage," designers and crew proudly recount the creation of the full-sized Bubbleship.
It is definitely a "boys and their toys" homage, but because the craft is so aesthetically pleasing, even non-gearheads can appreciate the effort.
The chapter "Combat" is self-descriptive as it describes some of the flashiest fight scenes. Though perhaps the most interesting segment shows Cruise and Kurylenko twirling and twisting in a Bubbleship cockpit attached to a gyrating gimbal.
"Illusion" reveals the computer generated visual effects and "Harmony" introduces M83 composer Anthony Gonzalez as he creates the appropriately spacy, electronic soundtrack.
Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Cast: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Melissa Leo, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Length: 125 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
DTS Digital Surround 5.1
DTS Digital Surround 5.1
English SDH, Spanish, French