Sounds like Tron Legacy director Joseph Kosinski director is two for two with making beautiful-but-brainless films. A crop of early reviews of Oblivion praise the post apocalyptic flick for its meticulous world-building and futuristic eye candy. But that's about it. Take a look at our roundup of early reviews below...
The Hollywood Reporter gives Kosinski a round of applause for the gorgeous empty world he's created — and even says the film starts with a bang. Sadly the movie deflates rather unceremoniously, according to the THR:
Oblivion is an absolutely gorgeous film dramatically caught between its aspirations for poetic romanticism and the demands of heavy sci-fi action. After a captivating beginning brimming with mystery and evident ambition, the air gradually seeps out of the balloon that keeps this thinly populated tale aloft, leaving the ultimate impression of a nice try that falls somewhat short of the mark.
The Guardian labeled the film an expensive waste of time. And the reviewer seemingly wanted a whole lot more from the usually charismatic Cruise:
There is little of the knowing humour and fun we saw in the Mission Impossible films, just plenty of shots of Tom doing his Action Hero face, at the controls of his elaborate helicopter-plane-device, or dropping athletically down on ropes, or on the macho motorbike he occasionally rides around on. Could this last touch have been a suggestion from the star himself? Sometimes he will do his Relaxed face, kicking back by the lakeside log cabin he has found on Earth. Periodically he will do his uxorious-romantic smile, while showering or having breakfast or enjoying some preposterous underwater conjugal loving with Victoria in their swimming pool.
IGN loved the action and look, but couldn't help but point out all the past movies Oblivion borrowed from (which is a theme in many of these reviews):
What follows is an action-packed science-fiction flick with lofty philosophical ambitions. Unfortunately it’s also completely and utterly derivative, the story plundering the likes of 2001, The Matrix, Silent Running, Solaris, Planet of the Apes and Total Recall, with varying degrees of success. An immediate and obvious touchstone is also WALL-E...
Variety was harsh on the plot problems but overall was pretty positive about the "striking, visually resplendent adventure."
The superficial cleverness of the plotting, with its elements of amnesia, self-delusion and impossible yearning, at times gestures in the direction of a Christopher Nolan brainteaser (as does the surging score by French band M83, which sounds like electronified Hans Zimmer). But the lack of comparable rigor, ingenuity and procedural detail is naggingly evident, as is the almost feel-good manner in which the story explains away some of its morally troubling implications.
Empire gave the film 3 out of 5 stars:
[Joseph Kosinski's work on] Tron Legacy showed three things: 1) Kosinski was masterful at creating an entirely imagined world right down to the tiniest detail; 2) He liked big, Messianic plots and taking time to explore them; and 3) He was a lot better with scenery than people. With Oblivion… Kosinski reasserts those first two points and only moderately improves on the third.
The List was pretty simple:
Oblivion may impress with its scale. But rather like Kosinski’s depiction of Earth, it feels devoid of humanity – and that’s a major design flaw.
Twitch says the film suffers tremendously from its derivative plotting, and concludes:
Taken on its own, Oblivion is a wholly watchable and oftentimes entertaining sci-fi action adventure that looks and sounds incredible on the big screen... However, the script is poorly written, with a few of its most integral explanations either dumped into expository speeches or skipped entirely, while all its best ideas come from the work of Andrei Tarkovsky, the Wachowskis and Duncan Jones.
MSN UK agrees that the film borrows way too shamelessly from other films:
The problem with coming late to the party, however, is that a lot of the good ideas are already taken. For while Joseph Kosinski’s film has a bold visual palette and reams of nifty hardware, its script seems distinctly second-hand: a déjà vu deluge incorporating elements of Independence Day, The Matrix and I Am Legend.
And finally, here's Digital Spy:
It scratches the surface in terms of its bigger ideas; freedom, control and memory all come into play, but ultimately its thematic backbone isn't as fully developed as the jaw-dropping visual spectacle on show. Kosinski piles up money shot after money shot (digitally enhancing desolate Iceland locations to good effect), while harnessing a soaring score from M83 to power along the ride. Despite all this, Oblivion can never quite deliver that transcendental wallop it flirts with.
On the plus side, these review have lowered our expectations for Oblivion tremendously. Perhaps we can find happiness just starring at this film, as if it were a collection of computer wallpapers. Oblivion hits theaters in the U.S. on April 19th.