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Can Cruise and Universal Make Kosinski's Sci-Fi 'Oblivion' a Global Hit? Review and Roundup

by Anne Thompson
April 19, 2013 1:43 PM
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'Oblivion' Comic Illustration
'Oblivion' Comic Illustration

The Hollywood Reporter:

After a captivating beginning brimming with mystery and evident ambition, the air gradually seeps out of the balloon that keeps this thinly populated tale aloft, leaving the ultimate impression of a nice try that falls somewhat short of the mark.


Only recently, Tom Cruise looked as if he was attempting to grow twelve inches to play tall tough guy Jack Reacher; now his role-model appears to be Wall-E, the diminutive cartoon automaton left behind on a wrecked planet Earth to clean up. Sadly there's none of Wall-E's spark in this bafflingly solemn, lugubrious and fantastically derivative sci-fi which serves up great big undigested lumps of "Total Recall," "AI," "Planet of the Apes" – with little snippets of "Top Gun."


Although Universal’s publicity department has asked that journalists refrain from spilling the secrets of “Oblivion,” the major revelations, once they arrive, will hardly surprise anyone familiar with “Total Recall,” “The Matrix” and the countless other sci-fi touchstones hovering over this striking, visually resplendent adventure. Pitting the latest action-hero incarnation of Tom Cruise against an army of alien marauders, director Joseph Kosinski’s follow-up to “Tron: Legacy” is a moderately clever dystopian mindbender with a gratifying human pulse, despite some questionable narrative developments along the way. 

The Playlist:

There are a few gaping plot holes that grate as time goes on (it's the kind of film where people don't tell the whole truth for the sole reason that it'll drive the plot along). It is overlong, and familiar, and never quite hits top gear -- it's never especially bad, but neither is it especially excellent, beyond the visual wow factor.


  • Todd | September 6, 2013 11:04 PMReply

    If you're going to critically write about a Scifi movie you should at minimum know that JJ is working on the sequels not prequels. You even say "VII"! all honesty I just watched it and its fantastic. I agree with most of what you say. However, it's not "derivative" which means copied; it's inspired by those movies and elevates them to a new, fantastical level.

  • tyler4all | April 12, 2013 1:40 AMReply

    this sounds like Wall-E.

  • Richard Tarle | April 11, 2013 11:08 PMReply

    Yes, this film was visually jaw-dropping, but I agree -- it paid too much homage to the great sci-fi films AND it was a snoozer. And it was confusing, with the turning points on the wrong pages. It felt like 3 hours. Thank God for the visual and dramatic charms of Andrea Riseborough. Universal has slotted this in a weekend when they've bowed such late spring fare like U-571 and Scorpion King. Fast Five was the last weekend of April and this will not do Fast Five business. At all. It will be a miracle if it's open at $40 million, and fortunate enough to emulate the trajectory of "Knight & Day." ($20 million opening, $76.4 million domestic). Obviously, foreign is where they need this to clean up, and it will, especially with it bowing before U.S.

  • Bill | April 11, 2013 7:37 PMReply

    Nice stat on Freeman's $2m salary

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