We’re introduced to a desolate Earth where, many years in the past, an alien race attacked humanity and, in turn, destroyed the moon, which caused all sorts of natural disasters and left Earth uninhabitable.
The humans eventually won the war but lost Earth, so they jettisoned off to Saturn’s moon, Titan.
The movie opens with Tom Cruise’s “Jack” as he dreams of old Earth, vastly populated, and sees a woman that seems eerily familiar. But his mind has been wiped as part of protocol, so he shouldn’t have any memories of someone he may or may not have known in the past.
He lives in an awesome-looking, futuristic villa propped high in the clouds with Andrea Riseborough’s “Victoria.”
They seem to have an idyllic, almost 50s inspired suburban relationship. Cruise heads out every day to repair the drones which are protecting massive machines that hover over the world’s oceans, sucking up all the water to supposedly take to Titan while Riseborough mans the control room in the house and guides him.
Cruise is only allowed to venture out into certain areas due to radiation contamination. And he has to be wary because some of the alien invaders, known as Scavs (short for Scavengers) were left behind and are wreaking all sorts of havoc.
But it seems like the Scavs aren’t trying to destroy Cruise. They seem intent on trying to capture him.
That’s where the mystery starts, and it creeps along at a snail’s pace until the conclusion, which you may or may not figure out halfway through the movie.
Director Joseph Kosinski is probably best know for 2010’s “Tron: Legacy,” and he continues to push the envelope of computer graphics. “Oblivion” is only his second feature film after coming seemingly out of nowhere from the commercial world. He’s a gifted visual storyteller, but his pacing is a tad bit off at times.
Along with the proposed “Tron 3” he will be at the helm of Disney’s remake of “The Black Hole,” which would fit him just fine.
He’s a good director and has the makings of one day being a great one if he sticks to his guns and fleshes out his writing skills.
Cruise is, well, Cruise. It seems as though he’s made for these types of movies. Which is good and bad. You already expect every line delivery, grunt and angry look because you’ve seen it before.
He turned 50 during the making of this picture, but it’s still really hard to tell as he still attempts to do many of the various stunts in all his films.
But Cruise being Cruise only helps the film.
The score was done by electronic music maestro M83 and helps add more of a technological feel to the sleek, futuristic world in which the characters inhabit.
But it’s the designs that stand out.
The house they live in. The vehicle Cruise flies around in. The motorcycle he rides. The guns he uses. The drones that guard against the Scavs, They are all streamlined and simple, yet beautiful and seem fully functional in any time period.
The world as it is in the film is nearly gone. We see a few cities overgrown and wasted, but it’s never really a true focus. It’s been about 50 years since the war; mostly everything was destroyed by nukes, so very few structures are actually still standing.
Basically, the movie is an amalgam of every sci-fi movie ever made. We have dashes of “2001: A Space Oddyssy,” “Star Wars,” “Planet of the Apes” and tons of others. But again, it’s more subtle nods than flat-out thievery, and the story keeps them all from coming straight out in the forefront of the film.
All in all, it’s a pretty good sci-fi movie and a decent space drama. It’s by no means a forgettable popcorn summer movie, which many are probably expecting; there’s more underneath its shiny exterior.
It’s always a good year when Hollywood decides to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a sci-fi film that’s both entertaining and thought provoking.
“Oblivion” is playing at Rio 6 Cinemas, 806 E. Houston St. in Beeville.
Paul Gonzales is the entertainment writer at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 116, or at thescene@mySouTex.com.