HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:91
Tom Cruise is one of those actors that you can love in spite of his crazy antics off-screen. Whatever he stars in is almost never BAD; his charm, charisma and acting experience all shine through and has raised many a mediocre movie up to a “good” rating just by his presence. I’m a big fan of Cruise and have been ever since I was a teenager watching “Mission Impossible” on VHS until I broke the tape. Tom has dazzled us on-screen with his dedication to his craft, even to the extent of doing 95% of his own stunts over the course of his film career (little tidbit of trivia: Tom is an avid motorcyclist and you’ll notice in many of his movies he’s driving a motorcycle or other two wheeled variant and it’s actually HIM doing the driving, not a stunt driver). Here we have Tom reprising his role as the stoic hero in yet another Sci-fi Film. I wasn’t too sure about “Oblivion” when I went into the theaterb being that I had made the stupid mistake of reading spoilers on the film’s plot before I went to view it theatrically, and had a less than perfect theatrical experience. However, watching it at home for a second time has allowed me to view it through a different set of eyes. Tom is solid as he always is, and director Joseph Kosinski gives us a fun blockbuster sci-fi actioneer to relax to.
It seems that 60 years ago, the Earth was invaded by an alien race known as the “Scavs,” presumably short for "Scavengers," the moon being destroyed in the process. As a result, the earth has gone out of whack and the lack of moon has created huge earthquakes, floods, fires, etc. in its destruction leaving the Earth nearly uninhabitable. To top it all off, the nuclear fallout from the war has left 90% of the world unlivable with the leftover radiation. The humans won the war, but lost the planet. As a last resort, humans built the “TET”, a giant space station that orbits the earth and is charge of harvesting the last of the Earth’s energy resources to fuel the survivors who have colonized one of Jupiter’s largest moons, Titan. Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) and his partner Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) work as caretakers for the giant machines that harvest the energy needed for the rest of the human race. With drones at their side, they monitor the equipment and repair the drones when they are attacked by the remaining Scav forces that are hiding out in the rubble of civilization. Due to the severity of their mission, both Jack and Victoria have had their memories wiped for their 5 year mission so that if they fall into Scav hands, they cannot reveal any critical information. The problem is that Jack is having some weird memories and dreams. Memories of himself in the world BEFORE the war, memories of a strange woman haunting his dreams. To add more stress to his life, he is insatiably curious, wanting to stay, even though logic dictates that the Earth is uninhabitable and he’s better off on Titan.
All of this comes to a head when during a routine drone repair Jack finds a Scav beacon being sent off into space. After decoding the message, he finds the coordinates of the beacon and observes a ship has crash mere hours later. Not just ANY ship, but a 60 year old HUMAN ship, complete with survivors. To make matters worse, the drones come onto the scene and start obliterating the human survivors in cryo sleep. Risking life and limb, Jack is able to save a single solitary survivor. A young woman name Julia….a woman with the same face that has been haunting his dreams and memories. Here Jack has to face the fact that everything is a lie….everything he has known is brought into question: himself, his mission, the Scavs, the TET and even who he really is, both physically and metaphorically. Any more description and I’ll end up spoiling the story big time so I’ll leave the plot synopsis at that.
Had the film been released 8 years ago or so I would have given the film a slightly higher score, but being that “Oblivion” is basically (don’t’ read the spoiler ahead unless you’ve already seen the film or WANT to have it spoiled)
“Oblivion” is not a brilliant film by any stretch of the imagination. It is cobbled together from the mythology of dozens of sci-fi films/books before it, and the fact that it’s got some SERIOUS similarities to another recent sci-fi film tends to give one pause. However, the fact that the films/books and ideas that director Joseph Kosinski borrowed form are all excellent sci-fi plot points the end result mixed with a fantastic use of action and style raises the film to a nice solid footing which is sure to please fans of the genre. Given that this is a summer blockbuster I wasn’t expecting much in the way of intelligence, but there’s still a surprising amount of brain cells that are used during the watching experience. The film goes into the subjects of what makes a person? Is it the physical body? The memories? Or is there something inside us that transcends pure science? There’s a few cheesy sci-fi moments, and some ridiculous pseudo-science, but that’s easily glossed over with the sheer fun factor of the film. There’s great action scenes, some STUNNING CGI battles and Tom Cruise’s charisma just carries the film. Toss Morgan Freeman into the mix and it’s really hard to go wrong. After viewing “Oblivion” two times so far I can say that I believe a third time in the coming week or so is in order with a bunch of friends and a LOT of popcorn.
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, brief strong language, and some sensuality/nudity |
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=12328[/img]All I can say is “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!” for the picture quality. Universal has given us an absolutely INCREDIBLE 2.39:1 AVC encode to enjoy. From the minute I started through the opening credits and narration I knew we were in for a treat. The colors and textures are about as vibrant as one can possibly get for a 1080p encode, whether it be the lush blues of the sky or the rich greens of the forest, or even the beautiful browns and greys of the desert sand, all shine through with equal aplomb. Facial and texture detail are without a doubt the closest to perfection I’ve seen in a long time. You can see every curve and pore in Tom Cruise’s face, the torn threads on his flight uniform and even the little stretch marks along his necks that one wouldn’t notice in a lesser encode. Black levels are pristine and inky as can be without a hint of black crush or lost shadow detail. The film is extremely vibrant at times, but can also go near pitch black in the underground lair of the Scavs and the film replicates everything to a T. There is zero signs of any digital manipulation such as DNR or haloing and artifacts are nowhere in sight. “Oblivion” ranks up there with one of the best and I’m proud to give the video encode a perfect score.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=12330[/img]If the fantastic video wasn’t enough, Universal has given us a bombastic, in-your-face audio track that just pins you to your seat, jumps on your chest, and starts beating you sonically as brutally as the bully in a 9th grade school yard fight. The LFE is absolutely GUT WRENCHING and stays throughout the entire film with power, intensity and depth. The scene were Jack lands his ship among the escape pods from the fallen space craft is thunderous and shook my house from top to bottom, even the simple things such as a door closing does so with the force of a hurricane and the battle scenes with the drones are enough to send any audio lover into a seizure of bliss. The surrounds are alive the entire time, filling the room with the crackling of flames, the thunder of gunfire and the soft sounds of sand crunching underneath Jack Harper’s boots in the desert. Dialogue is clean and centered, giving us a perfectly understandable audio track that is well balanced with the gut wrenching soundtrack. Again, like the video I’m proud to say that “Oblivion” earns another 5/5 in my book for its audio track.
• Director's Commentary
• Promise of a New World
• Isolated M83 Score
• Deleted Scenes
A bad film can be redeemed in some ways by a fantastic audio and video encode; even if you’re not a wild fan of the movie, there’s always the fun of demoing it off to your friends and neighbors to show what your system can do. What makes a movie watching truly special is when a really GOOD film has a fantastic audio/visual score. Not only can you demo the movie, but be absorbed into the experience that a truly perfect film replication can do to the viewer. “Oblivion” is one of those movies. Not a perfect movie, it has a few unanswered questions and has a plotline similar to another sci-fi movie in the last 10 years (albeit modified), but the movie itself is a well-crafted story that is just plain fun to watch in spite of those flaws. Tom Cruise is always a treat on screen and Morgan Freeman never disappoints. A sci-fi actioneer that has enough cerebral cells engaged to ask just the right questions, “Oblivion” is a great movie to just relax to and let the sonic vibrations and explosive action give you a fantastic movie watching experience. Easily a buy in my book.
Starring: Olga Kurylenko, Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman
Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
Written by: Karl Gajdusek, Michael Arndt
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1, French, Spanish DTS 5.1
Studio: Universal Studios
Runtime: 124 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: August 6th, 2013
Buy Oblivion Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Buy It
More about Mike