There is a lot to be annoyed by in Tom Cruise's latest film, Oblivion.
To begin with, the script is flat and drained of any kind of humour or fizz. The dialogue is dead, and the characterisation is less than minimal.
It is also corny and cheesy and America-centric. Even in a world that has been destroyed by nuclear war, where countries and states no longer exist, it is still all about the
Somehow the last Superbowl ever played becomes a reference point for the end of
The story and style is derivative, and reminiscent of a hundred science-fiction films that came before it, including Alien, Prometheus, Mad Max, Planet of the Apes. Everything you see and hear reminds you - if you've watched enough sci-fi - of something else. There are few original ideas here.
And yet, the film has something. It looks fantastic, the CGI is effective and seamless, and gives a sense of the scale of the devastated planet. And the design of the spacecraft and all the tech devices on earth is convincing and impressive.
Also, the way that the story is revealed keeps you wanting to know more. We are introduced to a world that has been ruined by a nuclear war that humanity had to fight against the evil Scavengers, an alien race that invaded Earth. Humanity won, but lost their home planet, and now have to emigrate to one of Saturn's moons.
Yet things are not as they seem, and the strongest aspect of the movie is how we the viewers are given little pieces of information to tease us with pieces of the truth, without the whole story being revealed.
And somehow near the end I began to buy it, despite the unlikely coincidences, the improbable plot turns, the lack of clear explanations. The film pulled me in, and made me root for humanity in its battle for survival. It had enough invention and power in the story to hold my interest.
The end is corny too, but there is something seductive about the film as a whole. The views of an empty wasteland, the beautiful shots of light and dark and the clash between the two (filmed by the cinematographer that made Life ofPi), contribute to this seduction.
And Tom Cruise gives a relatively restrained performance. No-one else in the film really gets a look in, not even Morgan Freeman, but Cruise doesn't abuse all the focus on him and is relatively restrained, even subtle at times.
If you can suspend disbelief, and let go of the annoyance at the damp script and the derivative nature of the plot, then this is actually quite enjoyable. It is kind of preposterous, doesn't make a huge amount of sense, and it is a bit cheesy, yet there is still something here worth seeing.