Note: as with all my reviews, I try very hard to discuss the movie from a big picture perspective, leaving out spoilers so you can enjoy the movie the way the writers and directors intended.
It was after my first viewing of Oblivion, back on opening night in April, that I began thinking of starting this movie review site, but by the time I had it launched I had seen other movies and never had a chance to go back and write the official movie review for Oblivion. Ironic, considering Oblivion is without a doubt my favorite movie of all time.
What I did share immediately after seeing the film was this:
Oblivion was cinematic perfection. 10/10. Mind blowing. A once in every 5 yrs experience. Instant sci-fi classic. Breathtaking. A must-see.
What did I like about Oblivion? The story, writing, twists, characters, acting, sets, costumes, special effects, and music. That's all.
I would amend that now to say, "a once in a lifetime experience."
Then a week later, I followed up with:
After seeing Oblivion a 2nd time, my only question is, can I give it an 11 out of 10?
Tonight, after seeing it a third time as part of the AMC Summer Movie Series to raise money for Autism, it was finally time to put together a full review.
As I mentioned in my quick reviews above, I gave this movie a solid 10 out of 10. I've been rating movies on IMDB for years, and have rated about 450 movies as of this review. Out of those movies, only 10 have received a perfect ten from me. Not all became "favorite" movies, and each had different reasons for earning a 10, but a perfect score is not one I hand out lightly.
Here's some of what I liked:
I had been listening to the soundtrack since a few weeks prior to the movie's opening, so I was very familiar with it by the time I saw the film. The music evokes such deep emotion that so beautifully ties in with the themes of the movie. A sadness from loss, a sense of peace and calm despite the loss, and in the end, a sense of accomplishment and triumph. It's both joyous and haunting at the same time, and the final song (now playing on this post) brings the movie to its stunning but gentle conclusion. All these emotions and themes were so wonderfully illustrated both with the soundtrack and the visuals.
When you are finished with this review, take a look at 17 Gorgeous Images of the movies landscape. They truly did a spectacular job with the sets and the filming locations. There have been an abundance of end-of-the-world type movies, but this one has probably destroyed the Earth (and the moon) far beyond any other. It's a wasteland, but amidst it all there is an oasis. This oasis serves not only as a location for many important personal development scenes, but also, like the soundtrack, provides moments of tranquility and peace away for the overwhelming sense of pain, loss, and an uncertain future.
As in the movie Memento, one of my top 25 of all time, the plot development and how the story unfolds is nothing short of brilliant. In both movies, we the audience, discover along with the lead character what is really going on, much to our, and his complete shock.
Seeing the movie subsequent times allows you to see how well the plot holds up, and how the writers and director alluded to what was going on without giving it away before it was time.
This slow reveal from the lead character's viewpoint allows us to connect with him, feel what he's feeling, sympathize with the horror of what he's discovered, and then come to the same conclusion he does in regard to what must be done.
I've been a fan of movies for as long as I can remember and have even written a few amateur screen plays. For me, one of the toughest challenges in writing a story with a male lead (the kind I'm most familiar with) is choosing between the three common options for the hero's fate: sacrificing his life in an act of true love for others (as in Braveheart, Star Trek II - two of my top 10 movies), living victoriously and still with those he loves (Star Wars, Man of Steel), or, missing out on true love and living with that pain forever (The Dark Knight, Highlander, Windy City, Angel).
All are valuable devices in telling a story, and reinforcing the major elements of heroism and sacrifice; themes that always strike a chord with my heart and soul.
Without giving away the ending of Oblivion, in case you have not yet seen it, know that Oblivion's decision on which direction to go is the most brilliant solution of all time. From the beginning of the movie they constructed a plot that led to the epitome of a romantic, heroic ending.
For me the themes of Oblivion are the same ones that have been central to all my favorite movies and to many a great sci-fi movie. I've alluded to some of the elements already: personal loss, loneliness, triumph, and maintaining a sense of hope and peace in the midst of despair.
In addition, this movie touched on other themes such as the question: is it more important to sacrifice for love, or live for love? and, how do you face an unimaginable situation (such as the end of the world, the loss of a loved one, or the discovery that things aren't what they seem).
It was a movie about self-discovery and a true love that spans time and space.
The best movies will make you cry and cheer, respect the hero and his choices, feel both his pain and joy, and then lead you to talk for hours about the themes, the plot and the overall impact the movie has on you as a person.
Oblivion is a must-absolutely-positively-see.