Oblivion and it’s many influences (and why that’s not a bad thing)


I went to see Oblivion this weekend, and while it the film itself it not really worthy of a dedicated blog post, I think that the opinions and reviews surrounding it are.

The Gist (without spoilers)

In a post apocalypse world, after an alien invasion that left the earth in ruin, most of earth’s remaining inhabitants have been shipped off to live the remainder of the lives in a home from home in outer space. A small crew (from what we can tell is just 2 people) are left behind to monitor and repair the earth based machines that fuel the resulting space re-colonisation, however, an alien resistance still exists on earth that continues to wreak havoc with the humans plans. It falls down to Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) to ensure they do not succeed.

Oblivion Screenshot

Cruise deep in thought, probably trying to recall the number of films that Oblivion rips off

Sound Familiar?

This film draws influence from so many films it would be hard to name them all, but first and formost I think it smacks of Pixar’s WALL·E. Oblivion is basically like WALL·E for adults (or PG13’s), but then there’s also obvious nods to I Am Legend/The Omega Man, as well as a few stolen plot points from Total Recall, The Matrix, Moon and Independence Day. Style wise there’s definite similarities to Tron, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Minority Report with all the fancy, glossy, space aged tech and in terms of set design and location, there’s so much Star Wars in here I would be slightly embarrassed if I was in Mr Lucas’ shoes.

But what does this mean?

The term “Original Cinema” is so hard to come by these days. Intentionally or not, it’s unlikely that modern filmmakers will make a movie that someone, somewhere can’t draw some form of comparison. Like anything “new” or created “from scratch” we typically tend to get 90% inspiration 10% innovation.

For example: at first glance, The Matrix was a mind blowing, plain shifting, never before done piece of modern cinema, but then you get people creating dissections like this:

Everything Is A Remix: THE MATRIX from robgwilson.com on Vimeo.

The Matrix has now been compared to (and rightly so) the likes of:

Does this make The Matrix any less amazing? No, because of the way it was excicuted by the Wachowski’s, the way they composed a movie that broke boundaries whilst paying homage to their successors, it will forever remain as one of my favourite visits to the cinema.

Oblivion Summary

Oblivion is not even in the same league as The Matrix. It’s a solid film that is visually lovely with solid enough performances (Cruise is coasting for the entire runtime), but it’s lacking in any real substance. Does it matter that it has ripped off all these modern classics? No, not to me anyway. Honestly, I would give it a similar rating as Prometheus, only without the massive hype and subsequent feeling of utter deflation. It’s decent sci-fi fun that owes a lot to it’s predecessors, but show me a film that doesn’t owe something to someone.


Posted on

April 15, 2013