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Oblivion (2013). More Spoiler-y Review. Or Wot I Would Change
Movies
stainsteelrat
Oblivion's been nagging at my brain since yesterday, and provoked by a discussion with my colleague this morning I thought I'd write a more detailed review, particularly focussing on what I would change. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a good film, but it could have been a great film (for me at least). I'll have to talk about the story, so there are inevitable spoilers.

**Commence Spoilers**

Oblivion is a film of two halves.

In the first we have the setup, with Harper (Tom Cruise) and his colleague and presumed spouse, Victoria (Andrea Riseborough). The first half does almost everything right in my book: it's well written, carried by the two leads, and the science and CG act as a backdrop. It has a classic science fiction feel about it. Mystery is injected by the arrival of the capsule with Julia (Olga Kurylenko), and this doesn't spoil the story at all, only heightening the tension and atmosphere. Riseborough is great throughout, but these are the scenes where she excels.

The only fly in the ointment of the first half is the heavy-handed scene where we are introduced to Harper's log cabin by the lake. There's a debatable plot hole of how he managed to build it without Victoria knowing or even suspecting anything. But more than anything else it's just hammy, particularly when Harper puts on the NY cap and flannel shirt (*reach for the sick bag*). Much like the rest of the first half, subtlety would have been the key here. Perhaps the average USAian audience would have struggled to understand the significance, but all it needed was Cruise sitting by the lake among the greenery, perhaps with a few gathered possessions. Wall-E got it right.

The second half, where Harper discovers who he is, is where the subtlety is really lost. The scene where Harper is captured and first meets Beech (Morgan Freeman) feels played for dramatic effect rather than realism. The insurgents costumes seem over the top, rather than expected rag tag bunch of survivors. Clearly the intention is to cause confusion with the Scav/alien plotline, but feels like a plot hole ultimately. Similar to the log cabin, the scene were they return to the Empire State balcony feels like another stretch too far of story credibility.

The worst part of all for me was the final encounter with the Tet. It almost felt like they ran out of money and/or ideas, as it was the least imaginative part of the whole story, and poorly designed. This is most evident when they encounter the core of the station, which looked like something out on 80s science fiction film, and not a good one at that.

Of course the log cabin rears its ugly head again at the very end, and although I wasn't averse to the final plot twist with Harper's return I'm sure they could have written something more elegant. Simply removing the log cabin would have been a start, with Technician 52 returning to the insurgents (no daughter required).

As above, it was still a good film, but it could have been a great one. Would subtlety have meant a lower box office return though? Probably.
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