In yet another of those Hollywood synergy “coincidences”, we have two movies this year about bleak, human-free future Earths after some calamity. Later this Summer, Shyamalan will attempt to retrieve his career from the abyss it’s fallen into with the Will and Jaden Smith starring After Earth. But it’s only April, so we have Oblivion.
Over the past few years, movie studios have gotten better about not telegraphing every little thing about their movies’ plots in the trailer. I appreciated that… until now. The ads for Oblivion made several things clear that should have been left for the audience to discover. Specifically, that “Mission Control” is the bad guy, that Tom Cruise has been lied to, and that Morgan Freeman is the Morpheus to Cruise’s Neo.
That said, there were a couple of excellent surprises that were NOT telegraphed, and I won’t spoil them here for anyone still interested in enjoying the film the best they can.
The Matrix reference isn’t just me having fun. This film is chock full of ideas stolen from other films: The Matrix, Independence Day, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Island, WALL-E, The Time Machine and every fricking amnesia film ever. (Side note: When someone actually has a character in a film who has amnesia and their past life doesn’t intrude in dreams/visions/whatever, give me a call. Until then, I’m done with amnesia movies. Until someone erases my memories of all of them, I guess.)
Now, it’s not that director Joseph Kosinki (Tron: Legacy) doesn’t stage these recycled ideas well. The film is beautifully shot, and has some wonderful, haunting imagery of an Earth undone by horrendous cataclysm. It’s just a shame that there are only a handful of moments that don’t feel like retreads of other films.
So, bottom line, it’s worth seeing, but it won’t really impress you. If that makes sense.