Joseph Kosinski showed us that he can handle sci-fi visuals with the shiny neon aesthetics of Tron: Legacy, and Oblivion is no different. However, on the downside, Kosinkski has also shown us on both features that he can’t handle depth when it comes to the genre, and it’s a crying shame, as Oblivion could well have delivered something quite special. The premise could well have been stolen from a number of previous films – Earth has become an empty landscape following some kind of apocalyptic takeover by an alien race. In order to remain, the survivors inhabit an orbiting space station, leaving only a couple of survivors (Tom Cruise and Andrea Riseborough as Jack and Victoria) to repair and maintain the androids and machines on Earth carrying out specific tasks - harvesting fresh water, killing off aliens etc. Their existence is lonely and bleak as they reside in a neo-modern abode in the clouds, their actions digitally guided and overseen by their controller and boss, Sally. Their existence as they know it is shattered when the woman from Jack’s dreams (literally! *Ahem*…Total Recall) crash lands to Earth with some rather extraordinary revelations. Cue rather immense stupidity and heavy plagiarism.
The setup was very specific during a somewhat tenuous opening five minutes, and after introducing us to the people, world and some extremely cool gadgets – the focal spacecraft is quite something – the possibilities of where this could all go were endless. It is a shame therefore that rather than carving a new path in the scrub, it took the past most-travelled, and shamefully riffed on too many other great sci-fi films/stories – Moon, Star Wars, I Am Legend (book!), 2001 and Total Recall. Even though “original” work, it screams of familiarity which is largely down to the lazy screenplay and extremely floppy ending. All in all, an enjoyable watch on the big screen, if only for the middle half hour of seeing the Cruister blazing around IMAX landscapes of Earth in a spacecraft so cool it awakes the inner twelve year old inside. 3/5