Oblivion is a stellar science fiction movie from director Joseph Kosinski (Wikipedia noting “… made his big-screen directorial with the science fiction film Tron Legacy, the sequel to the 1982 Tron) and has Tom Cruise in his best acting job since Collateral (2004). Kosinski is quoted as saying that “Oblivion pays homage to science fiction films of the 1970s..”
Indeed it does, with a scene completely lifted right out of Star Wars, a lift that is so in your face it’s impossible to think otherwise. Same with Morgan Freeman appearing as his own rendition of Morpheus from The Matrix…and we can’t tell you who the smiling “Sally” (actress Melissa Leo) is emulating, you’ll have to figure that out on your own (a character from I, Robot.) What is intriguing is that Freeman and Leo are also in the current Olympus Has Fallen epic, the “Die Hard” pseudo remake amped up a few hundred notches. These pliable performers add their considerable skills to the core story, which is the undercurrent – the cake, if you will, to all the frosting (films from the past) that Oblivion touches on.
The black and white moments of Tom Cruise in New York are more from Matrix than the 1933 Wizard of Oz, and yes there is the nod to The Day After Tomorrow, as well as Independence Day (two films from director Roland Emmerich) and the aforementioned I Robot (that’s two Will Smith movies, overlapping onto Emmerich’s territory.). There’s Star Trek, the original Total Recall, The Sixth Day (that’s two Schwarzenegger films, if you are counting) more Star Trek, even the Risky Business glasses Tom Cruise employed in the film that really launched him, as well as lots of Terminator moments.
The character Sally also emulates Capt. Colleen Goodwin of Source Code (two Jake Gyllenhall flicks, for those still counting), the Vera “Bates Motel” Farmiga character from Duncan Jones’ epic getting serious play on cable TV in early 2013). This is hardly spoiling the fun, that the film plays out its own end game in a stylish way that is as tricky a mind twist as Total Recall says much about the cleverness of director Kosinski…and Tom Cruise.
It’s lots of fun, and worth catching in iMax
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.