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Oblivion (Review)

15/04/2013 14:45 BST | Updated 12/06/2013 10:12 BST

In Oblivion, Cruise plays Commander Jack Harper (why are US TV and film heroes always called Jack?), a former astronaut tasked with repairing drones used to defend hydro power stations from "scavengers", a rag-tag army of "aliens" who are apparently hell-bent on destroying them. In his endeavour, Jack has a helper, his "teammate" Victoria. Jack believes his mission is essential for the survival of Earth's population who have all decamped to Saturn after these aliens destroyed the Moon. Still with me? It really doesn't matter if you're not. Oblivion is just pants from beginning to end.

Tom Cruise does his bit for the planet and recycles bits from other better movies, namely Blade Runner, Star Wars and 2001: A Space Odyssey, not to mention Top Gun. But mostly Oblivion is just Duncan Jones' 2009 film Moon but with a much, much bigger budget. This is the Tom Cruise show from beginning to end - no one else really gets a look-in. By the time we get to see Morgan Freeman's character Beech more than halfway through the movie, you are almost gagging for someone substantial to focus on. Two hours is an awful lot of Tom Cruise.

In Oblivion, Olga Kurylenko and Andrea Riseborough play two of the most thankless female roles I've seen on the big screen in a long time. I would like someone to explain to me why male sci-fi writers can imagine a world where we have mastered space travel, but they cannot envisage a world where a woman has a proper job. As Victoria, all Riseborough gets to do is walk around in high heels and a tight sheath dress (a dress! In 2077! How futuristic!), and say, "Copy that". A lot. Oh, and make Cruise's tea - by snipping the tops off of sachets. Meanwhile, Kurylenko gets to allow Cruise to save her - again and again.

I've never seen so many people get up and go to the bathroom during a screening, which should tell you just how uninvolving Oblivion is. This film raises more questions than it answers. I simply can't understand how studios can spend millions on CGI and yet they can't fork out for a script editor. The reason why Moon worked and Oblivion does not is that Sam Rockwell's character is very much an ordinary Joe, so his eventual epiphany is that much more shocking. Cruise's character is an astronaut; I guessed Oblivion's set-up about two minutes in, so you're left wondering if his intellect wasn't wiped along with his memory. I have no idea why Cruise put his name to this. This is one to avoid.