Tom Cruise's 'Oblivion' Obliterates Competition with $38 Million Box Office. (Film clip included.)
I always love it when a SF is successful, but I was totally floored that the conclusion to Oblivion was not what I expected. It looked as if this story would end as so many SF seem to--with doomy, gloomy disaster. I was delightfully surprised at the twist that ascended from, well...oblivion. This high budget, well advertised flick is, indeed, a Science Fiction Romance of epic scale. And with only the kind of mind-bending finale that a SFR can deliver.
But that's not all the film has to offer.
Spacestation Tet (for Tetrahedron) offers shelter to the surviving population of Earth who have not already fled to Titan, the distant Saturn moon proclaimed as the most Earth-like body in our solar system even with it's deep cold and frozen methane lakes. The technology in Oblivion is convincing enough that suspension of disbelief is easy. I totally buy that the technology in this era could enable humans to survive on Titan. (Ah, but this is SF/R. This is what everyone is supposed to believe.)
The Jack/Victoria team is in their operating twilight. They need only survive for two more weeks, and then their reward is to depart to Spacestation Tet and on to the Titan colony to join the rest of humanity. But then Jack witnesses the crash of Odyssey--a spacecraft with a human crew--including the very woman from his dreams. When the drones arrive to annihilate the crew, Jack is only able to save the mystery woman from being fried by the relentless drones. This is the beginning of Jack's downfall. And his salvation.
The characters are compelling. Tom Cruise is charismatic and effective as Tech 49 and Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) is efficient at her job and sympathetic in her emotional journey. I'm sure there will be some protests why it's the male partner who gets to do all the gritty, adrenalin-inducing 'fun stuff' while the female remains in her cool, squeaky-clean techy tower to act as communication center and liaison with mission command. But the story wouldn't work otherwise.
The conclusion is startling. I'll spare you the spoilers, but this tale has some wicked twists, surprising turns and aha! moments. Some critics have called it predictable. I don't share that view. I knew something was up and had my suspicions, but couldn't pull all the clues together until the very climax of the story. Even so, it left one big surprise for the ending.
The story allows the audience to connect the dots. One of the things I enjoyed about the film is that it provides just enough facts for the viewer to form their own opinions about the wrap-up. Not all plot threads are tied up and force fed to the viewer in a neat, tidy package. You have to think about the outcome and the events that led to what happened...and why.
Last, but certainly not least, Oblivion shows how a romantic human connection can still take center stage over flashy tech and futuristic twists. The romance made the story, and caused the audience to long for that legendary satisfying conclusion.
Which, thankfully, it delivered.
I hope that Oblivion makes up for the disappointment that Upside Down became on the cinematic SFR front. Whether Oblivion will continue to be a success in the weeks to come is still up for grabs, but it passes my acid test of success:
Was is worth the ticket price? Yes, definitely.
Would I watch it again? I plan to.
Will I buy the DVD? Absolutely.
Now it's your turn to chime in. Are you planning to see Oblivion? Are you excited to learn it's SFR? Have you seen it already? Did you enjoy it?