I feel it’s only fair to let the rest of the 2013 cinematic offerings know that there are only nine slots available in my Top 10 Films of 2013 now that I’ve seen Oblivion, the brilliant new sci-fi adventure starring Tom Cruise.
Remember all my raving last year about Looper? Oblivion is a must-see that (like me) you may have been sleeping on, but it’s time to wake up and rearrange your weekend to make seeing this a priority. It’s that good.
Oblivion pays homage to modern classic sci-fi films such as The Matrix, The Terminator, Total Recall and tons of shout outs to Star Wars: Episode V- The Empire Strikes Back without making it feel like a complete rip-off.
As a late 30-something myself, I got the majority of the 38-year-old director/writer Joseph Kosinski’s influences and it was a blast watching his spin on them. And somehow he’s able to make it seem cutting edge thanks to a tremendously, boundless creative vision.
Cruise plays Jack, a repairman on a war-ravaged Earth, which was left in ruins following a war with the alien race Scavs.
Along with his operations partner/lover, Victoria (a fabulous Andrea Riseborough), Jack is tasked with repairing drones — loud, threatening defense systems that resemble the B.O.B. and V.I.N.C.E.N.T. robots in The Black Hole. The drones protect massive machines that collect Earth’s remaining resources to power relocation efforts to Saturn.
The scattered Scav forces frequently raid the drones for parts so Jack travels in his helicopter-like ship while Victoria guides him to the damaged drones from their headquarters in the clouds. Victoria keeps in close contact with their supervisor, Sally (Melissa Leo, The Fighter), who constantly commends them for their effective teamwork.
Jack’s memory before the war was erased, but he’s starting to have flashbacks of a life with another woman, Julia (Olga Kurylenko, Quantum of Solace), which gets even more confusing when Julia arrives on the planet in a crashed space ship. Julia wants to learn what happened to her ship and the two encounter another band of human survivors led by Beech (Morgan Freeman, Olympus Has Fallen), Sykes (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game of Thrones) and Kara (Zoe Bell), who prompt Jack to question his mission and purpose.
I didn’t think Cruise had another great performance in him as the guy’s done every character from a secret agent to an aging rock star to a greedy movie mogul, but he finds a way to make Jack feel like a fresh character. It’s almost crazy to suggest that Cruise needed a “comeback film,” but after the underwhelming Jack Reacher and Rock of Ages, this role should restore the luster to his A-level, bankable movie star status.
After his masterful work on TRON: Legacy and now his work on Oblivion, Kosinski is on my very short must stalk avidly follow filmmaker list.
In an age of cinema where films like The Smurfs get the 3D treatment and other movies get delayed for months just to add 3D, it’s amazing that Universal Pictures didn’t push for that with Oblivion as the world Kosinski created seems so ideal for the 3D format.
Even without the extra dimension, the film is stunning with very imaginative scenes like the pool in the clouds and the “Empire Strikes Back”-influenced dogfight in a waterfall making for an epic experience.
Oblivion is inspired filmmaking and the kind of blockbuster that I can only hope will spark the next wave of visionary sci-fi films in the same way that Kosinski was influenced and so wonderfully honors here.
Rating: 10 out of 10
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