Oblivion Tom Cruise
My favorite directors these days are people who know how to use their medium to tell a story. For too long we've been stuck with films that basically point a hand-hel camera at the actors and pay no regard to things like cinematography and audio design. But now great film-making seems to be coming back into style. On the forefront of this return to good old-fashioned great film-making that would make Capra and Ford proud are three directors. Joe Wright (who single-handedly revitalized Jane Austin films), Andrew Niccol (who keeps making us question everything we know by pushing an idea to its logical limit), and now Joseph Kosinski (who now with his second film shows that his unique style is here to stay).
Trying to describe Oblivion is at once easy and impossible. It borrowers heavily from every sci-fi trope imaginable, and yet feels like a breath of fresh air. It's by-the-numbers and yet feels quite original. But one thing is for sure. If you like this sort of film you will find that it's very, very good.
When Tron Legacy came out a lot of people thought it had no plot, no depth, lousy acting, etc, etc. I happily pointed out to these people that all the depth of the movie was under the surface, in the subtly of the camera angles, the expressions on faces, the words quickly spoken that might be missed on the first viewing. You had to pay attention to catch the real story, which was told through visuals and use of music. This was greatly aided by the fact that the film was cut to the music instead of the other way round. Watching Oblivion I can say that exactly the same thing is true. There is a great story, but it's not told through monologs and conversations. It's told through the visuals, the music, and overall FEEL of a scene. Again, the music propels the film, giving very powerful emotion to scenes. And like Tron Legacy, this movie is so pretty visually and musically that you'll want to buy the soundtrack and the Blu-Ray.
Some people watched the trailer and thought it gave away the plot of the movie. It ain't so. The trailer gives away the first five minutes. In this movie nothing is as it first appears, and while you may see the plots twists coming, they are still done exceptionally well (both times I saw the film in the theater I started laughing at key moments because the way a plot twist was handled was so dang awesome).
The strength and weakness of this film is the obvious. It rips bits and pieces from everything from Wall-E to Star Trek:The Motion Picture and the game Portal. Mostly though, if you've seen Tron:Legacy it will remind you of that film. From the austere clean sci-fi feel of buildings and drones, to the strong resemblance between Quorra and Julia, from the barrel-rolling dog-fight chase scene to a final climactic confrontation with "the creator" set to blasting triumphant music, it all feels very similar. But in this case, it's definitely not a bad thing. Both movies are amazing and well worth watching repeatedly.