Updated: 2 May 2013

Time Out says

Rating: 3/5

Dir: Joseph Kosinski (2013, 124 mins). Cast: Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough

In the year 2077, Earth has been decimated by an alien war. The majority of the human race has taken refuge on Saturn’s moon, Titan. But there a few humans left—people like Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) and his partner, Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), whose job it is to maintain drones that harvest our blue orb’s remaining resources and destroy stragglers from the extraterrestrial army. The duo is an “effective team.” They report each morning to mission commander Sally (a delightfully patronizing Melissa Leo). Yet Jack’s frequent dreams about a mystery woman (Olga Kurylenko) he may have once known hint at some trouble on the horizon.

And so trouble comes. Suffice it to say Oblivion’s story is a patchwork of sci-fi cinema touchstones (a little Matrix here, a little Planet of the Apes there) onto which Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski and ace cinematographer Claudio Miranda graft some truly stunning sights. The IMAX-size landscape shots of the ruined third rock from the sun—skyscrapers jutting out from tectonically shifted sand dunes—look like they could have popped off a vintage space-opera paperback. There’s also a gorgeous sequence, when one of the drones invades Jack and Victoria’s Architectural Digest–ready sky loft, which has some of the pulp-poetic charge for which Kosinski seems to be constantly striving. Mostly though, gleaming, glittery surface is all; the talent on display is great enough that you wish this Sturm und Drang blockbuster went a little deeper. Keith Uhlich

Tags: Film