Course: Oblivion

Okay, I admit I borrowed that from the Star Trek – Voyager episode of same name, but let’s talk Oblivion. A while ago I posted about the sleek UI stuff. Well, sleek in a movie sense – they are still overflowing with unnecessary noise and fluff and would make terrible interfaces if they needed to control traffic management systems, power plants and all that. The exception here is of course the bubble ship’s HUD, which for all intents and purposes could easily exist even today and is restrained enough to actually fly around without constantly bumping into things because your screen is full. Generally the design of everything is beautiful to behold, but after seeing Tron Legacy you wouldn’t have expected much else from the same director, would you? So what about the rest?

Much has been written already and I tend to agree with most critics – while visually stunning, the movie lacks a bit of heart and fails on its on ambitions. Most notably it suffers from a very predictable story and some gigantic plot holes. If you have seen any of the trailers, you already can kinda guess that the whole thing comes down to

  1. this being a cover-up operation of some higher-ups that pull the strings on the space station or
  2. humankind having died out and the space station running on automatic or
  3. the aliens actually never having left and running things by controlling the few remaining humans or
  4. any combination of the things mentioned before

Which one ultimately it is I’ll keep to myself to not ruin it completely for you, but it’s actually quite simple and you figure out things too quickly. This is further amplified by many things that completely elude logic like what does Vic do all day alone in that tower when there’s nothing to do, why the moon should have such a terrible effect on things when they actually show it in its old place, just a bit shattered, and many other such tiny details. And of course the old fundamental question of why aliens should actually bother to travel lightyears just for a few resources when the universe out there is full of that stuff much more easily accessible in meteors, comets or uninhabited planets.

Aside from these issues, the movie is actually quite entertaining. If I hadn’t been down sick when it ran in cinemas, I would have had some interesting two hours. You have to give it to him, but no one delivers standard one-liners like “This can’t be true!” as Tom Cruise does. The rest of the cast is also solid and despite the flaws there are some original ideas in it that, if they had been explored more deeply, would have made for an A+ movie, but as it is, it’s more like B or C grade standard fare – you watch it, but only after a short while you forget about it and are never motivated to watch it again because you already know everything. In that regard the movie does its name all too much justice – it will sink into oblivion like many of those conceptually interesting sci-fi films from the 1960s and 70s that weren’t fleshed out fully and now are only remembered by the most nerdy of fans. Still, you could do worse and if you can get the movie for cheap on rental or streaming or one day when it runs on TV, it can make for a nice evening. It’s just nothing you would necessarily add to your masterpiece collection. This is meant to cause awe on big cinema screens, but it quickly loses this magic in your home theater.

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