{film} oblivescence


my sweet word-nerd daughter has been enjoying summer semantics (may she kick ass at the state spelling bee this year). a word on her lists last week?

oblivescence: noun. the process of forgetting. from the Latin obliv (forget).

In Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion (2013), Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) has already forgotten something crucial. His is the process of remembering.

As IMDb summarizes: A veteran assigned to extract Earth’s remaining resources begins to question what he knows about his mission and himself.

tagline: Earth is a memory worth fighting for.  [even if the film is not. ~L]

Oblivion movie HD Wallpaper

{earth, not middle-earth. the once devastated landscape has its spectacular moments}

The film takes its time adjusting the viewer to this new earth-scape and the situation in which Jack has found himself in our somewhat near-future. Visions are interspersed, hinting at a key but elusive mystery gnawing at the edges of his—and periphery. Their contact to whom they report is Sally and despite her Texas-honey, I still heard HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick 1968). HAL gives me chills. Then there are the fairly sinister droids in Oblivion, made to play into our distrust of technology, reiterating our paranoia when it turns its attention to a stray dog. That there is something uncannily robotic to Victoria’s (Andrea Riseborough) speech and movements feeds into a sinister undertone to an otherwise bright and nostalgic sensibility.

oblivion julia andrea riseborough


Oblivion is beautifully shot, the sets, costumes, effects are lovely, the soundtrack effective. The acting is good, with only a small quibble with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s Sykes coming off a bit too earnest and actress Olga Kurylenko’s Julia a bit too girl-ish at times causing me to wonder who and what she was (and not in a good mystery way). And I found Julia’s recovery took me out of the film a little. Otherwise, I think Cruise a fine choice for the role, Morgan Freeman’s inclusion as Beech a given, and Riseborough an actress I should keep in mind.


This is not the film for a groundbreaking sci-fi narrative. Like Kosinski’s earlier film Tron: Legacy (2010), it is predictable, the effort spent on the sexiness of visual effect—wisely re-employing production designer Darren Gilford and the fantastic director of photography Claudio Miranda. Kosinski brings us a sci-fi version of Sofia Coppola’s film/fashion shoot Marie Antoinette (2006).

There is a bit of the juvenile that reminds me of a Luc Besson space sci-fi. And while the derivatives can feel a bit much, but I think it was the plodding pace that inevitably had me turning to Sean during end credits and complaining: and here is your second “word of the day” : boring.

boring, adjective, causing or marked by boredom.

As I said, the film is clean, beautiful cinematography, solid acting, great sets and effects; I just found it to be boring. No doubt Oblivion will soon fall victim to the oblivescence, an unfortunately forgettable film.


Carl’s eloquent and more favorable thoughts at “Stainless Steel Droppings”


Oblivion (2013) Director Joseph Kosinski; writing: Karl Gajdusek & Michael deBruyn, based on the graphic novel by Kosinski; director of photography Claudio Miranda;  music M83; produced by Mr. Kosinski, Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Barry Levine and Duncan Henderson; production design by Darren Gilford; costumes by Marlene Stewart; editing Richard France-Bruce; released by Universal Pictures. starring: Tom Cruise (Jack Harper), Morgan Freeman (Beech), Olga Kurylenko (Julia Rusakova), Andrea Riseborough (Victoria Olsen), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Sykes) & Melissa Leo (Sally).

Running Time: 124 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, brief strong language, and some sensuality/nudity.

Published by L

I read, and I write. and until recently, I sold books.

3 thoughts on “{film} oblivescence

  1. Yes, we definitely had different reactions to this one. I watched it twice in the theater and just watched it again on blu ray on Saturday night with my wife’s cousin, who hadn’t seen it. As the credits rolled he turned to us and said “Excellent film” and I smiled because I had just felt the same thrill sitting through it that I had the first time. I can understand, on an intellectual level, how it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and why it didn’t generate a lot of box office money on this side of the world. For me though it is a piece of art not just in its visuals, which are stunning, but also in the interplay of the soundtrack, the very deliberate pacing which to me is not boring but nuanced and well orchestrated, and for some of the more obvious ideas like the power of true love and the dedication to Earth as man’s home that is present in a lot of science fiction. Sorry you didn’t enjoy it, not because it matters in the grand scheme of things, but because this really is one of those really special SF films that if it touches the right cords in you makes for great repeat viewings. Yes, it borrows heavily from what went before, but I never care about that in SF films if it is not a pure plagiarism. I’m looking forward to watching this one again. And again…

    1. glad you enjoyed it. and I was relieved that Cruise held up for it, which was my only real worry with this one. I didn’t mind the borrowing, and I rarely do unless I feel like it lacks any sense of a signature of its own. I really appreciate when the references add complexity to the film, and most (off the top of my head) felt like they did.

      you rightly read that deliberate pacing translated into something other for me; and I was not expecting a high action film, but a sci-fi mystery. visually, however, I was lamenting not seeing it on a big screen. and Sean and I were both dedicated to the screen, loving the sound and vision, but the tap ran a little too tepid for us.

      curious what kosinski is up to next. also wondering if you’ve seen the graphic novel upon which this film is based.

      1. My soon-to-be son-in-law told me that when he researched it the graphic novel was never actually finished and Kosinski made a statement indicating that he is sort of done with the project now and doesn’t have a lot of interest in finishing up the graphic novel. Too bad as I would have liked to have seen it, especially based on the concept art shown in the making of that was purportedly part of the GN.

        I suspect the pacing is probably a large factor in whether a person liked or did not like the film.

        I’m not a big Tom Cruise fan, and yet he will bring me to see films that I might give a pass to because I generally know what to expect. I thought he was great in Jack Reacher for the very same reasons. I like that with Cruise you generally don’t get a lot of offensive language, nor graphic violence. In comparing this to Elysium, which I saw Saturday afternoon, I much prefer a film like this which builds on its story (and I do feel it has one) vs. peppering the story with unnecessary violence. Elysium would have been a much better film had they shot for a PG-13 target audience. Given some of the violence taken out they might have been able to build a little more story in to kick the movie up another notch. It was entertaining, but nothing I need to watch over and over again.

thoughts? would love to hear them...

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