Let’s get the negatives out the way.
Oblivion has clunky, unnatural exposition flying at you from all angles. The opening monologue is dreadful and utterly needless; it would have been better slowly unravelling the mystery of what happened to Earth during the course of the film, not having a somnambulant Tom Cruise (he basically plays Wall E in this movie) drearily tell you about everything getting trashed.
That’s another thing: Tom Cruise.
Despite all his couch-bouncing and inane grinning, you can’t help but question if he does, in fact, have a soul; he’s so utterly blank throughout Oblivion. The other actors fare no better, really, with not a bit of spark or chemistry between any of them, though it’s hard to blame them given the fact that it’s so dry.
HOWEVER. Oblivion gets its four shiny stars by more than making up for its shortfalls in other areas. It looks incredible, boasting the kind of scifi aesthetic that was last seen on Seventies prog rock album covers.
Who cares if the sex scene in the swimming pool is somehow worse than the one in Showgirls (Google it, actually on second thoughts don’t); it looks so damn futuristic and sleek.
The sight of a fractured, broken moon in the sky is a definite highlight, along with Cruise swooping through the crumbled remnants of a lost age in his sleek little spaceship, almost as if he’s reliving his Top Gun days, before he gave everyone the creeps. This is bolstered by an exceptional soundtrack courtesy of M83 that glides effortlessly between melancholy minimalist tunes and synth laden sweeping epics. The music’s far better at conveying the drama on screen than the actors themselves.
Oblivion is very much a case of style over substance, and okay, it’s incredibly derivative, but the plot eventually does get going, and you’d have to be an emotionless husk to come away without feeling at least a little invested or dazzled by what you’ve seen.
Although 90 minutes of Tom Cruise playing the game Oblivion and chucking shoes on roofs might have been better. Who knows?