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3.9 out of 5 stars
Oblivion (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet)
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168 of 185 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2013
Oblivion wasn't a dynamic bang `em up, annihilate the universe sci-fi. It was steady, uncomplicated and extremely enjoyable. Cruise's performance is good (not a big fan of his, but he does have that charisma that is caught on film and makes it work extremely well). The premise was really good; the plot was a twist I did not even anticipate, but it was a really nice surprise for a sci-fi flick. The visuals and special effects are outstanding! Overall, it was an extremely enjoyable and entertaining Saturday night movie. For you sci-fi fans who need a fix, give this a look-see! Highly Recommend!
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395 of 445 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon April 22, 2013
There may be spoilers.

Some critics have panned this new film from director and co-writer Joseph Kosinski, in this his second film ("TRON: Legacy"), as being highly derivative. But let's face it, how many films are so fresh and new that they delve into uncharted territory? In any case, don't care. Whether it's a drama, a comedy, a horror movie or even a romantic comedy, it's how well it is delivered that counts. And this film delivers.

Like "TRON" the film is visually arresting. Seen on a big screen, the sets are huge but sparse, drawing the audience in. Set in a war-ravaged Earth of 2077 devoid of humans, all of whom have resettled on a moon of Saturn, only Jack (terrific Tom Cruise) and Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) remain. They are partners (both romantic and professionally) whose mission is to watch over the drones that patrol the area for a smattering of "Scavs" who were the defeated invaders. While Earth won the war, they lost the planet which continues to be harvested for water and other ecological matter.

Jack is the investigative repair man who goes out alone. Victoria never leaves their high control point and guides him using sophisticated tracking technology. While investigating an unusual radio beacon, Jack witnesses a spacecraft crash. One of the survivors is a human flight officer named Julia (Olga Kurylenko) who he has occasionally dreamed about. Both Jack and Vic have had their memories "washed" in order to eliminate thoughts of the terrible war. Uh, sure. What Jack believes to be "Scavs" turns out to be Beech (Morgan Freeman) and his collection of survivors. The truth is out there and Jack must find it, and does with the help of Julia.

Like "TRON," "Oblivion" is beautiful to watch and has a great soundtrack, mostly provided by French electronic band, M83. Yes, "Oblivion" borrows from a list of movies too long to mention, but for those of us who salivate for science fiction films with a breath of intelligence, this one does the trick.

BLU RAY REVIEW: In this subsequent viewing of this terrific sci-fi film, I was able to tie up a few elements I didn't quite understand the first time around. I would also have to say this is one of the best looking movies of any genre I've seen. The special features on the Blu ray disc add some clarity on how and why the filmmakers went for a certain look and it truly comes across beautifully.

The other thing I had missed the first time around was the romantic relationship between Jack and Victoria and subsequently Julia. It was there but just wasn't a point of focus. By "there," I mean it wasn't explicit, either by subdued actions or love making. Regarding the later, the most interesting coupling occurs in the swimming pool. It seems clear that Jack's relationship with Victoria seems forced or maybe expected is a better word. He does all the right things that husbands and wives do, but it seems like a matter of routine more than true love. Watch Cruise's face during those intimate close ups. Something is wrong. Of course those memory flashbacks of Julia don't help. When Jack finally does find Julia, it all clicks. Not quickly, but you can see in Jack's reactions, he loves this woman. But why? In the end, he shows how much he loves her. "Oblivion" is also a beautiful love story.

There is nothing like watching a beautiful movie like this on the big screen, but this Blu Ray transfer comes damn close. The 1080p transfer is spectacular in every respect and certainly will be a show off piece to a good system. It comes in the original aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and does a great job replicating the original film. The dystopian world is now essentially uninhabited and the stark whites and various shades contrast nicely with deep dark blacks. When the story moves underground, shadows and shadings of grey prevail. But even when Jack retreats to his cabin in the wilderness, we get beautiful greens and various earth tones in all their splendor. I could see no encoding issues. The contrast and detail are excellent.

Equaling the visuals is a magnificent DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 audio track. Again put this one on your demo list. If you have sub-woofers, they will get a workout as the rumbles coming from many sources including gunfire, rockets and explosions. The surrounds are constantly in play with movement from side to side, back and forth as the drone ships fly around. Dialog is clear and well presented. Ambient noise is ever present as well.

Extras include an excellent commentary track by Tom Cruise and director Joseph Kosinski, a 48 minute "making of" documentary, some deleted scenes and get this, an isolated musical score by M83 in Dolby TruHD 5.1 (24 bit, 96kHz). A great package to own.
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260 of 298 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2013
When I first saw a trailer for Oblivion, I felt like it was custom made for me. Then, last night, while watching it in IMAX,they started playing a Led Zeppelin song in the movie, I knew it was made for me. Oblivion was a mix of the greatest Sci-Fi already made and yet it was still unique in its own way. Other reviewers have said that the writing is better in the first half and that the movie becomes predictable or not as strong in the second half. I completely disagree. I felt like the script, while borrowing bits from other Sci-Fi, remained engaging and well-done through out the whole movie. If you see this movie in IMAX, in addition to being blown away by the incredible surround sound, you will actually see more of the picture than in a traditional theater. They opened it up for most of the movie. There were a few parts (only one I noticed was around the beginning) where it was the more narrow widescreen picture. For the rest of the time it filled up the huge IMAX screen. The special effects, details, set design, sound design, music, and acting were all top notch in Oblivion (well, Olga was about as good as you can expect from her). The best part about this movie was that my wife liked it. She said it didn't stress her out too much. She also loved the way the music went with the movie. She thought the surround sound and sound effects were some of the best she's heard in a long time. She said she wants to see it again just for the sound. I highly recommend this movie. I liked how by the end, all loose ends are tied up and everything makes sense. This movie does give you the opportunity to think deeper on the meaning, or you can just take what they give you and be totally fine. Go see it in IMAX. I wonder when Tom Cruise will start looking his age...? A note on the CONTENT of the PG-13 rating: Sci-Fi violence on a Star Wars level of graphic-ness. Language that is Low to Middle of the road for PG-13. There is 1 "F" word, as is normal for PG-13 now-a-days, and a few "S" words and "SOBs." Religious exclamations were very minimal, like two I think. There is a pool scene where you see a dark silhouette of rear female nudity then you can see it through the water for a short time also. In another scene, we see a bare female back from the waist up. Thanks for reading, now go watch this in IMAX. Go in with an open mind and be ready to have fun!
BLU-RAY UPDATE: I'll keep this brief. The picture and sound are PERFECT. The only downside is that the blu-ray does NOT include the IMAX aspect ratio change, it stays in 2.39:1 the whole time. The special features are actually really satisfying. And it doesn't take that long to get through them. If you want to see how any aspect of this movie was made, you will see in the making-of portion. If you are like my wife, and feel that the behind the scenes stuff ruins movies, then don't watch this part, because it definitely uncovers the magic behind key scenes. The Audio commentary with the Director and Tom Cruise was extremely interesting and entertaining. The musical score isolated audio track was actually really engaging and showed off the beautiful score. The deleted scenes added a bit of depth. Overall, it is a fantastic blu-ray of an awesome movie. This movie holds up to repeat viewings because you'll notice new stuff each time. Enjoy!
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149 of 169 people found the following review helpful
Wow!... What a great sci-fi movie. How did this one slip through the Hollywood machine? It has a real plot, action, love, and cool tech. Gore is even kept to the minimum needed to tell the story. Huh, how did this happen :-)) Please Hollywood, I want some more like this...
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108 of 124 people found the following review helpful
Earth has suffered a cataclysmic alien attack. In an effort to save the human race and the planet, we fight back. Nuclear weapons are deployed. We fight valiently but it is not enough. The population is decimated. Cities are destroyed. The Earth is in ruin, virtually uninhabitable. The survivors are left with no other choice but to flee the dying planet and make a new home on Titan, Saturn's largest moon.

Now imagine that you are one of the only people left on Earth, tasked with protecting and syphoning what few resources remain so that your people can survive. This is Jack Harper's (Tom Cruise) job. He and his partner, Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), are tasked with drone maintanence --- drones that are critical for protecting their harvest operations. These drones are the last line of defense from hostile "Skav" attacks. The pair's mission commander, Sally (Melissa Leo), provides support from the space colony above. In a few short weeks, the harvesters will have collected enough of the remaining raw material needed to ensure humanity's long-term survival and Jack and Victoria can then return to be with their people. Only, after a drone repair goes horribly wrong, Jack is left questioning the motives behind his mission and the supposed dangers posed by the Skavs. And he quickly learns, things on the surface are not what they seem.

when I saw the trailer for Oblivion coupled with the knowledge that Joseph Kosinski (of Tron: Legacy fame) was attached to direct, I was super excited. So I may not be the biggest Tom Cruise fan or anything but with an all-star cast consisting of Melissa Leo, Morgan Freeman and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (aka Jamie Lannister from FREAKING Game of Thones!!!), there was no way this movie wasn't going to be a sure-fire winner. To sum up, Oblivion has everything you want/expect out of the genre: killer SFX, action aplenty, pivotal plot-twists and aliens (of course); but it also delivers more than what you initially anticipated. You go into it expecting spaceships and lasers and invasions but you come out having seen so much more.

I will utter a word of caution, however, to those of you who expect to watch your a-typical sci-fi thriller: you will probably walk away from Oblivion feeling slightly underwhelmed because the movie takes its time while unraveling its mysteries. It doesn't just jump straight into the action like many others do these days. But if you love a good storyline, I think you'll be thoroughly pleased with what you see. I have to give Kosinski credit for doing the impossible --- he finds that all-important balance between showing riveting action on screen and telling a captivating story, especially in a genre where excessiveness reigns supreme. This isn't just another alien invasion story. There's some good stuff here. And while even the most adamant of sci-fi fans might preemptively anticipate several of said plot twists, it never detracts from the intended impact.

But as much as I hail this movie for its amazingness, it's not without its flaws either. There was one big thing that forced me to knock my glowing review down from a 5-star to a 4-star rating. Oblivion isn't just a sci-fi film, oh no. It's a stupid love story! When you expect aliens, instead you get a googly-eyed, sap-filled romance. In fact, a good chunk of the film is dedicated to this unanticipated plotline and it made me absolutely crazy! It's kinda similar to what I felt for the movie Titanic. If you take out the love stuff, the movie would've been so much better! Look, I know what you're thinking. It's not that I'm anti-love, I'm just not a fan of love where it doesn't belong ---- like on sinking ships and in goddamn alien invasions! Get with the program people! When it comes to, I dunno, my survival or getting in my kicks one last time, you bet I'm gonna go with the former.

So, yeah. The love stuff. Not a big fan. And that brings me to Olga Kurylenko. Where I felt like Riseborough owned her performance (even the romantic parts), Kurylenko's character only serves to move the love story forward. And while she's not terrible, she's not exactly pivotal either --- more like, just another pretty face. Her character, while it does add some momentum to the spacey stuff, doesn't really inspire. The big surprise for me was Tom Cruise. As I said before, I'm not exactly Tom's biggest fan. For me, he plays much the same character in every movie he's in --- the more-than-meets-the-eye-bad-ass on a mission who ends up questioning authority.That's essentially the case here, only there's more of a softness behind his performance than I've seen in recent years. And where Cruise can sometimes seem a bit alien in real life, he's shockingly human in Oblivion. He proabaly won't win any awards for this performance but you do have to appreciate those subtle nuances that cause you to sympathize with his character's plight. Another suprise for me was how little screen time Melissa Leo and Morgan Freeman are given. Their roles albeit miniscule, do serve a larger, more all-encompassing purpose though. They each serve as a meaningful addition and do shine with whatever time they're alloted. I won't say much for Nikolaj Coster-Waldau's character other than HUBBA-HUBBA!

Another amazingly effective role in the film was actually played by the drones. They are surprisingly animated, each reflecting distinctive and very quirky personalities. They kind of reminded me of WALL-E, in a more deadly shoot-em-up, kind of way. They served to highlight the terrifying nature of Earth's precarious situation and to bring the comedy needed to lighten the mood. And to this I tip my hat to the SFX guru's behind-the-scenes. Much of the drones' character was emphasized by the incredible realness of the barren landscape and the stark modernness of their technology. It also doesn't hurt that I saw the movie in IMAX so much more attention to detail is paid visually as well as audibly. I'd say that I had some fairly high expectations for this film, most of which were met. Oblivion is wrought with surprises mostly good, some bad, but overall, I was pretty blown away by its depth and the post-apocalyptic journey on which we went.

Food for Thought: Oblivion is a surprisingly contemplative film with genre-defying cinematography. For a flawed film, strong performances, unexpected plot twists and appropriately timed action make it a must-see. And despite complaints that I might have, both fans and non-fans of the genre can find something to enjoy whether it be the sci-fi journey or the romance that drives it making this movie a sure bet for all!
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94 of 116 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2013
Oblivion (2013) - Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Premise: After an alien invasion, the Earth has been left a nuclear wasteland. Survivors gather aboard the TET in preparation to leave to a new colony on Titan. Before they can make the journey, resources such as water need to be harvested if there's to be any chance for survival: Enter Jack Harper, Tech 49 (Tom Cruise), who with his partner Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) protect drones designed to find and kill "Scavs" - the remnant alien survivors of the invasions who carry out attacks on the resource gatherers. When a mysterious woman (Olga Kurylenko) crash lands on the planet though, everything Jack thought he knew is called into question...

Thoughts: High definition brought out the best in this visually arresting film. The musical score (by M83) is intense, awesome but, at times, a bit overpowering/jarring in certain sequences. The acting is very well done, but unfortunately the film's script and story lacks the calibre of its talent. The story meanders, there are nonsensical plot twists which are not explored for anything but shock value. As a result, at times the film can be quite frustrating. Additionally, not all the characters are developed well - specifically Nikolaj Coster-Waldau's supporting character who - though bad ass - doesn't get developed beyond "bad ass with long hair and a gun." But each actor does their best to bring something to the table and it shows - though it isn't enough to cover the plot holes and lack of development at times.

Should you buy this film: My experience was watching the film in true IMAX. As such, the visuals were incredible - if you have a High Def television and a surround sound system, then I definitely recommend this film on bluray. Anything less, you're being robbed. At the same time: this film is NOT on the same level as a smaller indie film which covers a lot of the same ground in different ways. If you're looking for quality science fiction, I recommend Duncan Jones' Moon starring Sam Rockwell. However, if you're looking for a beautifully shot action adventure film with a great soundtrack, Oblivion would probably be a good call.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2013
I went to see this movie at the theater when I was traveling and had nothing else to do. I was not expecting much and it is usually hit or miss with a Tom Cruise movie. I was really surprised how good the movie was. I love SciFi but have been disappointed in much of the recent crop that has come out. Oblivion had a unique story with a couple of good twists.

Even people that are not SciFi fans will enjoy the story if you like a little suspense and mystery. Definitely worth a rental!
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2013
I almost didn't get this movie, because the critics tore it apart. However, after reading the reviews on Amazon, I decided to buy it. I am glad I did.

Everyone agrees that this movie is visually stunning. It is, but let's get past that. Right off the bat, you are made to think about what is happening. You have the strange feeling that something isn't quite what it appears, but you don't know what. Funny, but that is exactly the feeling of Tom Cruise's character. Throughout the movie, it takes twists and turns that you didn't expect.

The video and audio are excellent. The casting was great. Look, if you need a guy with an intense stare that doesn't quite know what is going on, Tom Cruise is perfect. If you need someone to project that he really does know what is going on, Morgan Freeman is the natural choice. The rest of the cast Was excellent, each portraying their characters to a tee. Special credit to Melissa Leo for adding some incipient creepiness which was fun to watch.

Now, why did I ignore all those one-star reviews? First, those who said the movie was bad because they didn't understand it, put the blame in the wrong place. Second, those who cried, "bad science", need to understand that the movie is entertainment, not education. Sure, hydrogen is the most available element in the universe, but that does not prevent some visually interesting ways of obtaining it. Yes, the story borrowed from other works. The final destruction of the orbiting platform was straight out of ID4, but it made sense in the context of this movie, and that is what really matters.
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69 of 89 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2013
I really loved this movie. I won't bother to go over the plot again as this has been covered in many different reviews and it would spoil things anyway. But, this movie left me in tears in the end. It accomplished what only the best science fiction is able to accomplish - use the genre to get the viewer to question basic premises and assumptions about his or her own life. The beauty of science fiction is that it can use aliens and new technologies as analogy to the questions we all face today that can get pedantic or dreary if it were set in the present day. A movie like District 9, although deeply flawed, can raise questions about our basic views of how we relate to those different from us, especially when they are in our power. Oblivion raises deeper, more philosophical questions: who am I really? What makes me myself? Why am I different from anyone else? Am I doing good in the world? Am I a good person? How do I know? Do I have a soul? If I do, what is it made of? What happens when I die? Yes, the plot incorporated elements of many different works. So do they all. We all stand on the shoulders of giants. If a reviewer says that this movie is derivative and worn, I would accuse that reviewer of simply missing the point. Don't trust every negative review you see. It reminds me of something Lex Luthor said in the original Superman movie - to paraphrase: some people can read War and Peace and think that it's just another adventure novel. Others can read the label of a bubblegum wrapper and get the meaning of life. This movie is awesome. Just trust me on this one.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Where Oblivion succeeds most is as a pure sensory experience. I suggest you watch this film on the biggest screen possible with the volume loud - very few movies look or sound as good as this one does. Three elements make this movie worth watching (and owning on blu-ray):

1. The Design - the technology and architecture is amazing. You can tell that the production design was given a great deal of care (in fact, many of the designs come directly from the director's graphic novel). I think the Bubbleship is an amazing vehicle and a great design. Movies like this present exciting possibilities for what future technology might look like - and that's something I enjoy contemplating.

2. The Locations - I love when movies take you to places that you might never get to visit in person. A lot of this movie was shot in real locations (in particular the amazing landscapes of Iceland), rather than on soundstages with bluescreen. It's also interesting to see recognizable landmarks (the Pentagon, the Washington Monument, Empire State Building, etc) deserted and destroyed. Of course, the destruction is all thanks to visual effects, but it looks very realistic.

3. The Soundtrack - the original music for the film was written by M83, and it's the best movie score of the year. The soundtrack perfectly compliments the visuals. In fact, the blu-ray has an isolated score so you can watch the movie with only the music (no dialogue or sound effects) - watching the movie this way illustrates how much of the story can be conveyed through the music alone.

A lot of the criticisms of the movie deal with the fact that the movie is derivative - that it borrows ideas from other films. I would not dispute that claim; I would just say that not every movie is going to be groundbreaking in terms of story or plot. I think there are enough ideas in this movie to keep it interesting - even if I've seen it all before, I haven't seen it quite like this.
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