Movie review: Space survivors battle oblivion

This visually searing new Tom Cruise Sci-fi flick is a tautly paced psych thriller.

Ameer Hamza Ahmad May 06, 2013
This visually searing new Tom Cruise Sci-fi flick is a tautly paced psych thriller.

Oblivion is an ode to classic Sci-fi. It has the aliens, a devastated planet, an anti-hero, the satisfying click of a neat ending that resolves the mystery. And much like the brilliant Looper, you are kept guessing until the end about the permutations and combinations of possibilities linking the characters.

Co-written, produced and directed by Tron: Legacy’s Joseph Kosinski, Oblivion is based on an unpublished graphic novel of the same name. In the film, Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is one of the last remaining drone repairmen stationed on an evacuated Earth, which was nearly destroyed 60 years ago due to an alien invasion. Helping Jack is Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) who mans the operations post at their sky-high condominium. Their mission control commander is Sally (Melissa Leo), who guides them from the Tet, a tetrahedral space station that was humanity’s escape vessel after the war.

Jack and Victoria’s mission is almost complete and they are scheduled to leave the planet for the lunar colony on Titan in two weeks. Jack cannot, however, shake the feeling that all is not as it appears. He cannot seem to understand why the humans had to abandon the Earth when they had won the war.

The beauty of this film is keeping the suspense till the end. And as it takes its time to reveal the plot it floods your senses with breathtaking visuals of a desolated Earth as Jack struggles to complete his mission. Sci-fi lovers will also be taken in by the smashing gadgetry, tech accoutrements, surgical white drones and Tom Cruise’s transformer-esque motorcycle.

Along with the plot, director Kosinski also focuses on building atmosphere — so important in this genre. In the beginning you’ll feel sadness, loneliness and uncertainty but just as quickly you’ll feel fear and hopelessness.

If you’re going in to the cinema thinking Oblivion is going to be adrenaline-pumping action flick, I would advise you to watch something else. It’s an expertly drawn out psychological thriller. Don’t forget to stick around for the credits that are set to M83’s brilliant title song, Oblivion featuring Susanne Sundfør.

Upcoming Sci-Fi Movies

Pacific Rim

Described by director Guillermo Del Toro as “a beautiful poem to giant monsters”, this is one movie I am most excited about. Why? It’s Gundam+Godzilla, that’s why! Set in a world where giant monsters have risen from the ocean, humans retaliate by building large mechanised suits to combat the threat.


If you loved District 9, then it’s impossible not to be excited about Neill Blomkamp’s follow-up to the movie, Elysium. Set in a time when the wealthy live on a man-made space station while the rest of the population resides on a ruined Earth, a man takes on a mission that could bring equality to the polarised worlds.

Ender’s Game

Remember Orson Scott Card’s 1985 sci-fi novel, Ender’s Game? Well, they’re making a movie about it. Andrew ‘Ender’ Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), an unusually gifted child is sent to an advanced military school in space to prepare for a future alien invasion. The cast includes Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley and Aramis Knight.

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, May 5th, 2013.

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Final Solution | 10 years ago | Reply

@FACT: You're probably new to the sci fi genre.

not so good | 10 years ago | Reply

Oblivion is a tortuous movie to watch in a cinema.

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