Oblivion review (Blu-ray)

Kosinski's second sci-fi actioner after Tron:Legacy is certainly a vast improvement on that snoozefest. Oblivion has an intriguing plot that unfolds unhurriedly. It is visually spectacular, utilising CGI effects in ambitious and intelligent fashion, and deserves to be seen on the biggest screen possible. One gets a real sense of the devastated wasteland that is now the Earth of the future, ravaged beyond measure by a war and now virtually uninhabitable save for a few scavengers that are adept at hiding themselves.

Cruise plays Jack Harper, a stalwart security guy and technician looking after what remains of the empty planet with his attractive communications partner Victoria (Riseborough). They live in a cool space station in the sky and Jack flies around in his helicopter-cum-spacecraft mending drones. For the first half hour they are the the only two characters we really see. But their ordered existence is torn asunder by the arrival of beautiful Julia (Kurylenko), the lone survivor of a spaceship that has crash landed on the planet below. Her presence unsettles Jack. Why does he have distant memories of her? All is not as it appears, especially when new arrivals are introduced into the mix in the second hour.

To reveal any more would spoil it for you. Suffice it to say that this is a big, smart blockbuster done with surefooted confidence. It's slightly po-faced perhaps – a little humour would've been welcome at times – but overall it delivers the goods with aplomb. Cruise's energy is relentless and he holds it all together with slick professionalism.

The emotional drama that gradually develops is cannily punctuated with zippy action sequences that remind one of other sci-fi classics – the fact that Oblivion feels derivative at times actually works in its favour. One almost takes comfort by being reminded of earlier efforts. The first half is the better, but it still ends up a satisfying and most entertaining adventure, persuasively packaged and deftly delivered.

EXTRAS ★★★ This is such a gorgous-looking film that you really do need the Blu-ray experience to full appreciate it. The Blu-ray also comes with UltraViolet, which allows you to ddownload a copy of the film to watch on a PC, tablet or other mobile device. As for the extras themselves: there's an audio commentary with star Cruise and director Kosinski; four deleted scenes (4:25); the five-part making-of documentary Promise of a New World (46:13); and an isolated M83 music score.An added feature with the Oblivion Blu-ray and DVD release is the "Oblivion Blipp", which uses the Blippar app to creates an immersive user experience. The Oblivion Blipp is activated by scanning the Tom Cruise artwork marker, which features on all Oblivion Blu-ray and DVD packaging and any print advertisement, via a smartphone or tablet with the Blippar app. The activation produces an animation of drones zooming over land, detecting humans and forcefully firing, which generates an explosion that virtually shatters the phone or tablet screen. The Blipp also features an Oblivion-themed Photo Share function, with multiple scenario options, encouraging users to snap away and place a friendly face on the body of lead character Jack Harper. The images can be saved to camera roll then shared via e-mail and social media platforms. Or for more action, users can pick an object to be attacked and fired at by a drone. The Blippar app is available for both iOS and Android. 

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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