MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

By Mike Wilmington

Wilmington on DVDs: Oblivion

OBLIVION (Three Stars)
U.S.: Joseph Kosinski, 2013 (Universal)

oblivion-5Oblivion, a stunningly visualized, dramatically erratic science fiction film epic about what happens after the Apocalypse, maybe, is really two movies: one good, one not so good. First, it’s the long-lost progeny of 2001: A Space Odyssey and “The Twilight Zone.” (Good.) Second, it’s a Tom Cruise killer-thriller space opera about a rebellion on our ravaged earth. (Not  good.)

 The 2001-inspired section, thanks to the film’s visual artists (which include director-writer Joseph Kosinski and cinematographer Claudio Miranda of Life of Pi), is often extraordinary—and get a load of the movie’s splendiferous vistas: those sand dunes out of Lawrence of Arabia, those cloud castles out of Up, those moody dreamy interiors out of Solaris. The way the movie looks is one of its main attractions. Another is the acting (Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Andrea Riseborough, Olga Kurylenko and Melissa Leo).

The second part of Oblivion, which is more big-bucks action movie-driven, is well cast and well acted, but both predictable and often befuddling. From the midpoint of Oblivion on, the movie often doesn’t make much sense. The premise is reminiscent of all those “Zone” episodes which took place in the (seeming) future, or (seeming) deep space, and where we‘re watching something rich and strange and often nightmarish, in a world that we can sense is going to change radically—and often does. On a post-nuclear war Earth, cosmic cleanup operator/sky-boy Jack Harper (Cruise) and his British co-worker/bedmate Victoria Olsen (Riseborough) are located in what looks like a super-Hollywood Hills sort of number called the Skytower. They, and everyyone else will be  evacuated to the Saturn moon of Titan, while Earth suffers the ruin and wreckage of 60 years of planetary warfare with alien invaders called the Scavengers. Earth is now a blasted wasteland, with its seas drained for energy, and with a number of famous landmarks (the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge, the New York Public Library) poking Planet-of-the-Apes-like, out of the sandy devastation.

Jack and Victoria are spending their last time there, mopping up what’s left of Desert Earth, in anticipation of humanity’s impending exodus. Meanwhile, nasty Scavengers, or Scavs, roam around menacingly, even though humankind supposedly won a 60-year war, and  Jack/Tom cruises around in the Top Gun-nish cockpit of his glider  Bubbleship and treasures  a sumptuously weathered old hardcover book called “The Lays of Ancient Rome” by Thomas Macaulay. Also haunted by memories of a beautiful woman he saw on the observation deck of the Empire State Building (Olga Kurylenko), he is about to meet a flock of other characters played by Morgan Freeman (Beech, a rebel leader),  Kurylenko (Julia, the real beauty), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Sykes, a hothead) — and to find out that neither he, the Earth, nor the Scavengers, nor Victoria, nor any of the others.  nor almost anything all is quite what it seems, even if we’ve seen a lot of it before in other movies.

There aren‘t many movies around as stunning to look at as the first part of Oblivion and it‘s worth a look. Kosinski displayed a strong visual imagination in the critically bashed TRON: Legacy., but this is his show—adapted from a story and graphic novel he wrote — and it’s clear he has more emotion invested in it. Maybe Cruise does too.  He doesn’t quite triumph over the forced ending—nobody can really, except Morgan Freeman, who, it seems, can survive anything. But the movie has its moments, and many new pictures don’t have even that much. Oblivion doesn’t quite turn real, or even convincingly unreal In the end, it’s just another Tom Cruise action spectacular. But at least it’s not oblivious to other possibilities.

Extras: None.

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.


awesome stuff. OK I would like to contribute as well by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some amazing and easy to modify. check it out at All custom premade files, many of them totally free to get. Also, check out Dow on: Wilmington on DVDs: How to Train Your Dragon, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Darjeeling Limited, The Films of Nikita Mikhalkov, The Hangover, The Human Centipede and more ...

cool post. OK I would like to contribute too by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some amazing and easy to customize. check it out at All custom templates, many of them dirt cheap or free to get. Also, check out Downlo on: Wilmington on Movies: I'm Still Here, Soul Kitchen and Bran Nue Dae

awesome post. Now I would like to contribute too by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some beautiful and easy to modify. take a look at All custom premade files, many of them free to get. Also, check out DownloadSoho.c on: MW on Movies: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Paranormal Activity 2, and CIFF Wrap-Up

Carrie Mulligan on: Wilmington on DVDs: The Great Gatsby

isa50 on: Wilmington on DVDs: Gladiator; Hell's Half Acre; The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Rory on: Wilmington on Movies: Snow White and the Huntsman

Andrew Coyle on: Wilmington On Movies: Paterson

tamzap on: Wilmington on DVDs: The Magnificent Seven, Date Night, Little Women, Chicago and more …

rdecker5 on: Wilmington on DVDs: Ivan's Childhood

Ray Pride on: Wilmington on Movies: The Purge: Election Year

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon