Readers of my reviews may remember that I was not planning to see Oblivion. The first trailer did not impress me, and I am not a fan of Tom Cruise. The second trailer changed my mind.
Regular readers (or, indeed, anyone who read the review just before this one) may also recall that I tend to complain about trailers revealing too much.
Oblivion's trailer revealed more than I would like, but I wouldn't have seen the movie without it. I'm not sure how I feel about that.
The post-apocalypse thing has been done, more than a few times. Oblivion has the great virtue of doing it in a different way than I have seen before. There's a limit to how much I can say about that without spoiling. The trailer, as I said, gives somewhat of the plot away. Fortunately, there was enough left to keep me entertained. More than that, I think that even if I had known much more of the plot going in, I still would have enjoyed it.
That's a neat trick, and it works because every phase of the movie is solid. Acting, writing, directing, setting, cinematography, all of it works. This is not to say the movie is perfect - it's not. It is, however, far better than I was expecting, easily good enough to take the top spot on my list so far.
As a side note, this is the first time in a long time that I've been impressed by Tom Cruise's acting in a part where he wasn't insane. This movie has very few actors - three and three and some extras - and it would not have succeeded if they had not each pulled their weight. Cruise I've mentioned: he (and the script) bring humanity to a desolate first half.
Andrea Riseborough does a commendable job in a part that honestly has very little to it - she's second fiddle to Cruise's Jack. I've deleted two tries at another sentence about her, because they got spoilery. Suffice it to say I like what they did with the character. Also, trivia: apparently there was a pilot to the BBC show Being Human, in which Riseborough was Annie, the ghost. Only George continued on to the rest of the series, among the leads. One of the reasons I stopped watching after two episodes was that the ghost annoyed the heck out of me.
The last of the three main characters is Olga Kurylenko, who you might remember as Camille in Quantum of Solace. I can say very little about her without spoilers. She has a very expressive face, especially her lips. I found her quite charming.
Of the three other characters who amount to anything, the only one I'll mention is Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and that only because he also plays Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones. I spent most of his screen time staring in fascination at Nikolaj not being Jaime.
And, back on topic.
Oblivion is good sci-fi. There's depth to it that I was not expecting, though I expect that most of the audience won't bother thinking about it because ooh shiny. Apparently the movie was based on a graphic novel - props to those guys for a good story, and to the studio for pulling it off. I hope it makes money.
2. Jack the Giant Slayer
3. Beautiful Creatures
4. Oz the Great and Powerful
5. G.I. Joe: Retaliation
6. Hansel and Gretel, Witch Hunters