Guys, go see Oblivion and give Kosinski money so he can make Tron 3. I did!
I’l try to be brief and spoiler-free: yes, the criticism stands, there’s nothing remotely original about this film. But what I found was wrong about the reviews I read is the assertion that it borrows from the Matrix, Mad Max, and whatever else. No; what’s actually going on is that this is incredibly old-school sci-fi, to the point where I felt the script had actually been written in the 60s and just lingered in a drawer up until this point. If you grew up reading Analog or Omni or Asimov’s or whatever else was popular in, say, the 70s, and you enjoyed it - including Soviet sci-fi both in content and feel - then go see this because it’s exactly that kind of classic tropes about alien invaders and whatnot. And please be prepared to turn your science brains off because the geology &c. fail factor runs high here. Don’t ask too many questions, just roll with it and feast your eyes.
The only thing I thought was underdone and out of place in the design of the film was the 80s feel of the Scavs - the hostiles Tom Cruise’s Jack has to protect his tech from - but the rest is sheer Syd Mead and John Harris in its elegance and grandeur. Check out the image on top, the sky apartment from the trailer, and the designs of the aircraft Jack flies all over the place. I know I’m only talking about the look of the thing and not the plot but let’s face it, it’s Kosinski, we’re all in the cinema because of the audio-visual orgasmatron the guy delivers. And damn the sound of this thing is spectacular! I found the M38 score to be overly bombastic at times and it does borrow from Hans Zimmer &co. a little too much, but the background noise and the pings of the drones and the otherwordly tapestry of sound that permeates this entire flick is even more subtle and refined than that of Tron Legacy. If this continues, Tron 3 will sound out of this world, as it should.
And speaking of the inevitable comparisons with Tron: I personally thought this was a better-made film altogether, tighter and better directed for all that it’s predictable and demands immense suspension of disbelief at times. But where Legacy wins out by far is that the characters of Oblivion are entirely forgettable and no, I’m not trying to be funny. The only person I gave a damn about was Victoria and mostly because she had to deal with the superficially friendly Sally from NASA Command and keep on top of things while Jack did whatever the hell he liked; the forced politeness and underlying sniping between her and Sally was a far more interesting relationship than that of Jack and Julia, the woman who may or may not be his true love.
Btw, this is Julia:
If you’re thinking “by Jove, give that woman some orange overalls and a portal gun” just wait ‘till you see (and hear) the drones and hear (and see) the true villain of the piece. If Oblivion borrowed from anything other than the old-fashioned sci-fi all other films in the genre also owe their existence to, it’s the Portal games. It was even distracting at times, but also fun in a weird way.
In conclusion: just what you thought it would be. Expect nothing new but do get ready to drown your senses in beauty, and hold fingers crossed we get to visit the Grid again.
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