reviewed by Tom-Tom
Post-apocalyptic science fiction seems to be all the rage these days. As the world didn’t end in either 2000 or 2012, the film industry is giving us plenty of what-if scenarios to chew on. Some are depressing as hell with no real point (The Postman). Some give a comic spin on the apocalypse (This is the End, Shaun of the Dead). Some still give over the top interpretations (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012). Oblivion is a bit different. It begins with a deceptively clear and concise narration by Tom Cruise’s character Jack Harper dreams of a woman of which he has no memory much like the protagonists of both Total Recall movies. He lives in a white sphere high above the Earth with a gorgeously buxom ginger minx with a poshly crisp British accent. While seemingly simple in design it has tables which are actually huge touchscreen computers with user-friendly, practical UI which makes great use of drag and drop. It even has a nice pool in which ginger is fond of skinny dipping. The world was destroyed as a result of a nuclear war with the unseen alien Scavengers who destroyed the moon causing all matter of natural disasters on the Earth. The war was “won” by the humans but even so, the planet was evacuated WALL-E style with the whole population shipped off to Saturn’s moon Titan. Jack and ginger (her name is Victoria) have the job of patrolling what’s left of the world’s non-radioactive areas with him cruising the skies in a triple spherical ship which also is pretty ergonomic and practically designed. The spherical drones, also practically designed are no-nonsense destroyers. Up above the Earth’s atmosphere is an administrative type named Sally who sports a friendly country bumpkin accent which is disarming considering her rather conservative leanings. Victoria also toes the party line from her high office and touchscreen desk in an immaculate white one-piece and stiletto heels. Jack is a bit of a rueful adventurer with his bobble-head dashboard figure, Yankees baseball cap, and secret cabin he assembled from driftwood. There are Scavs remaining. They resemble full size Jawa like creatures with appropriately post apocalyptic garments.
The film is beautifully shot and apparently went easy on the CGI. All of the scenes of nature and above-the-cloud shots were supposedly 100% natural. It was filmed in Iceland and Louisiana, which are both slowly becoming hotspots for many new films and TV series both post apocalyptic and not. The music was written by the French group M83 and composer Joseph Trapanese. It is minimalist techno which is scene appropriately orchestral or sinisterly electric. It is a great achievement in film score. The ending song is heartrendingly beautiful. The great sci-fi themes of questioning the nature of reality and of the truth play a great part in this film as the limited amount of information and even memories are all unreliable. The morning greetings from mission control’s Sally, so friendly at first, eventually have a forced, dogmatic feel as do Victoria’s responses to them. The question “Are you an effective team?” which sounded so awkward at first has a horrible purpose which is revealed in shocking fashion. Sally’s friendly manner becomes as creepy as HAL-9000’s neutral tone.
The gradual revelation of the film’s secret is pretty shocking and unexpected. Who better to sit on top of a whopping mystery and give off enigmatic and wise hints than Morgan Freeman. “Oblivion” is a beautiful, original, mind-boggling film without the over-the-top leanings of most of the genre. It leaves you with a satisfying feeling at its conclusion which is more than most end-of-the-world flicks can boast.