Oblivion (2013 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Joseph Kosinski|
by Joseph Kosinski
|Edited by||Richard Francis-Bruce|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Running time||124 minutes|
Oblivion is a 2013 post-apocalyptic science fiction film based on Joseph Kosinski's unpublished graphic novel of the same name. The film was co-written, produced and directed by Kosinski. It stars Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Andrea Riseborough, and Olga Kurylenko. The film was released in the U.S. on April 19, 2013. According to Kosinski, Oblivion pays homage to science fiction films of the 1970s.
The film received mixed reviews. The acting, visual effects, and originality were praised, while reception of the story was mixed. The film underperformed at the American box office, grossing only $89 million, but performed well overseas. It is Cruise's twentieth film to gross more than $200 million worldwide.
In 2077, Earth has been ravaged from war sixty years prior with the extraterrestrial Scavengers (Scavs). The Moon was destroyed, causing earthquakes and tsunamis, while humans used nuclear weapons for a costly victory. Humanity is now relocating to Saturn's moon Titan via the "Tet", a large tetrahedron-shaped space station. On Earth, Tech 49 Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) and his partner and lover Victoria "Vika" Olsen (Andrea Riseborough) are among the few humans left on Earth. Stationed at Tower 49 in former northeastern United States, they are instructed by mission controller Sally (Melissa Leo) to protect the gigantic offshore fusion energy generators that purportedly provide power to the colonists on Titan, from Scav attacks using a combination of Drones and Jack's reconnaissance via his ship. Despite having had a memory wipe, Jack experiences visions of being on the observation deck of the Empire State Building before the war with an unknown woman. When not on patrol, Jack secretly spends time at a small lake-side house he has built.
Jack detects a Scav beacon signal emitted from the Empire State Building that is sending coordinates on Earth. Perplexed, he terminates the signal, only to witness a pre-invasion spacecraft, the Odyssey, fall to the earlier specified coordinates. Investigating the wreckage, Jack finds several working stasis chambers, including one containing Julia (Olga Kurylenko), the woman from his visions, as well as a flight recorder. Jack revives Julia and is surprised that she knows his name. The Scavs capture them, secure the recorder, and take them to their base at Raven Rock Mountain Complex. The Scavs are not aliens but human survivors, led by Malcolm Beech (Morgan Freeman). Beech wants Jack's help to destroy the Tet by using unstable fuel cells they have collected and a captured drone. He says everything that Jack knows is a lie, but Jack disbelieves him; Beech releases them, saying the truth can be found in one of the forbidden radiation zones.
En route back to Tower 49, Jack and Julia go to the Empire State Building, where Jack proposed to Julia. They fly to the Tower, but Vika, monitoring their movements, refuses entry and reports to Sally that she and Jack are now an ineffective team. Sally activates a disabled drone that kills Vika, while Jack and Julia escape, chased by other drones Sally sends to capture Julia. Jack's ship is damaged and crashes in the forbidden zone that lacks the forewarned radioactivity. They encounter Tech 52 Jack, an exact clone of Jack, and during a scuffle Julia is wounded. Seeing Julia, Tech 52 Jack falters and experiences the same visions Tech 49 Jack experienced. After incapacitating Jack 52, Tech 49 Jack races to Tower 52, finding a Vika clone there. He obtains medical supplies to heal Julia and leaves.
After an evening at the lake-house, the two return to the Scavs. Beech reveals that the Tet is the hostile alien force mining the Earth's resources while eliminating humanity. The Scavs are not extraterrestrials that are still fighting humans, as Jack was told. After the Tet destroyed the Moon, it sent an army of Jack clones to invade Earth, and nukes were launched in the mayhem. He says Jack and Vika clones are primarily tasked with maintaining the drones that monitor and protect the generators from human survivors.
Sally sends drones which breach the complex, which Jack helps the others defend. Beech is gravely injured and the captured drone is damaged beyond repair. The humans try to recoup but fear an imminent attack. With Julia's consent, Jack communicates with the Tet via Sally, agreeing to turn over Julia to her. Placing Julia in a stasis chamber, Jack flies to the Tet while listening to the Odyssey's flight recorder. It is here learned the fate of the original astronaut Jack Harper: He, Vika and Julia were all crew members aboard the Odyssey, which was originally an exploration mission to Titan, Saturn's moon. The mission was re-routed to visit the Tet, then near Saturn's orbit and therefore close to the original trajectory. Originally appearing inactive, the Tet began to pull the spacecraft towards it. To save the crew members in stasis, Jack detaches the sleep module which also serves as an emergency escape pod.
While boarding the Tet, Jack is tailed by 2 drones. After explaining his reasons for arriving at the Tet to "Sally", he is granted access to the Tet's main control center. Now deep inside the Tet, Jack opens the sleep chamber. Inside is the mortally-wounded Beech and the fuel cell nuclear bomb. They trigger the bomb, destroying the Tet and shutting down the attacking Drones before they reach the human base. On Earth, Julia awakens from the stasis chamber at the lake-house in time to see the Tet destroyed. Three years later, Julia and her young daughter are living in the lake-house. Members of the human resistance arrive, including Jack Harper 52. The movie ends before more is known about Jack 52 or what his future with Julia will be.
- Tom Cruise as Commander Jack Harper, a technician who fixes anti-alien drones
- Morgan Freeman as Malcolm Beech, a resistance leader on Earth
- Olga Kurylenko as Julia Rusakova Harper, Jack's wife, an astronaut Jack rescues from a killer drone and nurses back to health
- Andrea Riseborough as Victoria "Vika" Olsen, Jack's communications officer and lover
- Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Sergeant Sykes, a battle-hardened and athletic military weapons expert in Earth's human resistance
- Melissa Leo as Sally, Jack and Victoria's supervisor, speaking from the Tet
- Zoë Bell as Kara
Kosinski wanted to film a cinematic adaptation of the graphic novel Oblivion, which he started to co-write with Arvid Nelson for Radical Comics. The novel however was never finished, as Koskinski now admits that it "It was just a stage in the project [of film development]". He explained in an interview with Empire that "partnership with Radical Comics allowed me to continue working on the story by developing a series of images and continuing to refine the story more over a period of years. Then I basically used all that development as a pitch kit to the studio. So even though we really never released it as an illustrated novel the story is being told as a film, which was always the intention.”  Walt Disney Pictures, which produced Kosinski's previous direction Tron: Legacy, acquired the film adaptation rights to Oblivion in August 2010 after a heated auction. Disney subsequently released the rights after realizing the PG-rated film they envisioned, in line with their family-oriented reputation, would require too many story changes. Universal Pictures, which had also bid for the original rights, then bought them from Kosinski and Radical Comics and authorized a PG-13 film version.
The script for the film was originally written by Kosinski and William Monahan and underwent a first rewrite by Karl Gajdusek. When the film passed into Universal's hands, a final rewrite was done by Michael Arndt. Universal was particularly appreciative of the script, saying "It's one of the most beautiful scripts we’ve ever come across."
The Bubble Ship operated by Cruise's main character, Jack 49, was inspired by the Bell 47 helicopter (often colloquially referred to as a "bubble cockpit" helicopter), a utilitarian 1947 vehicle with a transparent round canopy that Kosinski saw in the lobby of the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, and which he likened to a dragonfly. Daniel Simon, who previously worked with Kosinski as the lead vehicle designer on Tron: Legacy, was tasked with creating the Bubble Ship from this basis, incorporating elements evocative of an advanced fighter jet with the Bell 47 to create a light, functional vehicle that was both practical and aesthetically pleasing, much as he observed with the ships in 2001: A Space Odyssey. "When Kubrick made 2001, rather than going to the hotshot concept designers of the day, he hired NASA engineers," said Simon. "I believe in form follows function. I'm not a fan of excessive decoration, of putting fins on something because it looks cool." Rather than employ digital models, Wild Factory, a Camarillo concept car company, built the Bubble Ship as a 25-foot-long (7.6 meters), 4,000–5,000 lb. (1800–2300 kg), mostly aluminum prop. Elements of the cockpit, such as the placement of the joystick and pedals, were customized for Cruise, who is a pilot in real life, and who had some input into the design. The craft was also made to be easy to disassemble and assemble, in order to facilitate transport to the Iceland shooting locations, where it would be mounted on a gimbal for shots of it flying. The unmanned aerial drones that figure prominently in the plot were created to appear to be in the same design family as the Bubble Ship.
For casting the lead role of Julia opposite Cruise, the producers considered five actresses: Jessica Chastain, Olivia Wilde, Brit Marling, Noomi Rapace and Olga Kurylenko, and all five auditioned on August 27, 2011. It was subsequently announced that Chastain would play one of the film's two female leads. In January 2012 Chastain entered into talks for a part in the Kathryn Bigelow film Zero Dark Thirty and subsequently dropped out of Oblivion contention. It was later announced that the role had been given to Kurylenko. In preparation for the role, Kurylenko watched astronaut training videos as well as classic science fiction and romance films (such as Solaris, Notorious, and Casablanca). "What's funny is I actually watched [Solaris]; Joseph never brought it up," said Kurylenko. "I come from Tarkovsky-land, and at that point I hadn't watched it for many years. I watched the new one as well, with George Clooney and Natascha McElhone. The story – both in Solaris and Oblivion – deals with space and memory."
For the other leading role, Victoria, the producers initially considered Hayley Atwell, Diane Kruger and Kate Beckinsale. The three actresses traveled to Pittsburgh to screen-test with Cruise, who was filming Jack Reacher. The role finally went to Andrea Riseborough. Melissa Leo was cast at a later date as Sally.
Production began on March 12, 2012, and concluded on July 14, 2012. Filming locations included Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana. Much of the film was shot in Iceland in June 2012, when the daylight lasts for nearly 24 hours a day. As well as showcasing Iceland's volcanic landscapes, the film's director Joseph Kosinski sought to take advantage of the round-the-clock light, in particular the 6pm to 1am waning light known as "magic hour", to "bring sci-fi out into the daylight", in contrast to films such as Alien, which spent their time in dark hulls or benighted planets. The single most difficult scene to film in the entire movie was when Harper takes a break to admire the view and waters a flower; it was filmed by having Cruise sit next to an 800-foot (250 meters) drop at the top of Iceland's Jarlhettur on the root of Langjökull, a peak that the crew nicknamed Earl's Peak, which is only accessible by helicopter. The scenes set at Harper's idyllic forest retreat were filmed at Black's Pond in June Lake, California.
Oblivion was filmed with Sony's CineAlta F65 camera, which was shipped in January 2012. A Red Epic was also used for scenes that required going handheld or when body mount rigging was applied. The film was shot in 4K resolution in Sony's proprietary raw image format, but for cost reasons (and over Kosinski's protests), both the digital intermediate and final version were done at 2K resolution.
For the Sky Tower set (built on a soundstage in Baton Rouge), Kosinski and cinematographer Claudio Miranda worked closely with visual special-effects house Pixomondo to establish both environment and lighting by the use of 21 front-screen projectors aimed at a huge wraparound backdrop to form one continuous image, rather than blue screen backdrops. The backdrop consisted of a single seamless piece of painted white muslin, 500 feet by 42 feet (150 by 13 meters), which was wrapped around the set for 270 degree coverage. This enabled the full environment to be captured in camera, and assisted in lighting up to 90 percent of the set. If they had used blue screen on a "glass house" set like the Sky Tower, the glass would literally have disappeared into the blue lighting, and the VFX people would have been forced to reconstruct most of the set in post-production. Naturally, "the actors loved being in it" since unlike blue screen, they could look outside and actually see a sunrise or sunset. This new technique allowed them to cut down on both the effects shots, which ended up at around 800 in total, and the expenses. Even the "control table" which Victoria operates was filmed then displayed on a large screen.
To obtain the necessary footage to create the illusion that the Sky Tower set was sitting high above the clouds, Pixomondo sent a crew to film the view from the peak of Haleakalā in Hawaii for four days with three Red Epic cameras mounted side-by-side on a single rig. Pixomondo's Stuttgart office then stitched together the data from the three cameras to form a single gigantic video stream (with each still image consisting of 26 megapixels), and produced a variety of different time-of-day clips to be projected on the set.
On June 28, 2012, it was announced that French electronic band M83 would compose the soundtrack for Oblivion. On why he chose M83 to score the film, director Joseph Kosinski said, "I went back and I found my first treatment for Oblivion from 2005 and it had listed in the treatment a soundtrack of M83. Obviously the Tron: Legacy collaboration with Daft Punk worked out as good as I would have ever hoped, [so] I wanted to do something similar in that I’m pulling an artist from outside the movie business to create an original sound for this film." Kosinski continued, "Daft Punk’s music wouldn’t make sense for this movie. It had to be an artist whose music fit the themes and story I was trying to tell. And M83’s music I felt was fresh and original, and big and epic, but at the same time emotional and this is a very emotional film and it felt like a good fit."
To guide Anthony Gonzalez of M83 through the scoring process, director Kosinski brought in Joseph Trapanese, who co-wrote the score alongside Gonzalez. Kosinski states, "Together they have created the score that I have dreamed about since I first put this story down on paper eight years ago." Trapanese first came to Kosinski's attention when he collaborated with Daft Punk on Tron: Legacy as arranger and orchestrator.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, M83 frontman Anthony Gonzalez said, "I started to write the soundtrack just reading the script, and then when you get the picture in, it's different, and you kind of switch to another vibe and change stuff and start experimenting a lot with the music." Gonzalez added, "I worked with Joseph a lot, and he's very particular about the music in his movies, so we spent a lot of time talking about music and working the arrangements together."
|Oblivion: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by M83|
|Released||April 9, 2013|
113:36 (deluxe edition)
|Label||Back Lot Music|
|Consequence of Sound|||
The soundtrack album was released on April 9, 2013 by Back Lot Music. A deluxe edition of the soundtrack was released the same day exclusively through iTunes. It features an additional 13 tracks.
|10.||"You Can't Save Her"||4:56|
|12.||"I'm Sending You Away"||5:38|
|13.||"Ashes of Our Fathers"||3:30|
|14.||"Temple of Our Gods"||3:14|
|16.||"Undimmed by Time, Unbound by Death"||2:26|
|17.||"Oblivion" (featuring Susanne Sundfør)||5:56|
|Deluxe edition (iTunes release)|
|12.||"Return from Delta"||2:22|
|17.||"Return to Empire State"||6:41|
|21.||"You Can't Save Her"||4:59|
|24.||"Knife Fight in a Phone Booth"||4:39|
|25.||"I'm Sending You Away"||5:40|
|26.||"Ashes of Our Fathers"||3:32|
|27.||"Temples of Our Gods"||3:16|
|29.||"Undimmed by Time, Unbound by Death"||2:27|
|30.||"Oblivion" (featuring Susanne Sundfør)||5:57|
Details about Oblivion were kept secret, though the studio was said to have been "very excited" about the film. Promotions began April 2012, with a part of the footage being screened at the 2012 CinemaCon despite the fact that filming had begun just one month prior to the event. The footage was described as "a combination of early concept art, rough animation, and unfinished dailies," showcasing a glimpse of the film's landscapes.
Oblivion was first presented in Buenos Aires on March 26, 2013, Dublin on April 3, 2013 and in Hollywood on April 10 at the Dolby Theatre where Cruise himself announced before the screening that the film was actually the first feature to be mixed completely "from start to finish" in the latest state-of-the-art Dolby Atmos surround sound.
The DVD and Blu-ray for Oblivion became available online for pre-order in North America on April 24, 2013, just five days after its initial release in the region. One month later it was announced that the United Kingdom branch of Universal Studios would be releasing the film on home video in its region on August 6, 2013 with the on-demand version on August 18, 2013. The release is scheduled to be in both a standard and a SteelBook Limited Edition form. In June 2013, it was announced that the film would be released on home video in America also on August 6, 2013. The Blu-ray releases will feature commentary with Tom Cruise and director Joseph Kosinski, deleted scenes, M83's isolated score, and a series of making-of featurettes. The Blu-ray debuted at number 1 in sales for its opening week.
In North America, the film earned $37.1 million during the course of its opening weekend, including $5.5 million derived of IMAX screenings from 323 theaters, making it Cruise's best North American opening outside of the Mission: Impossible film series and War of the Worlds.
The film closed on June 27, 2013. Oblivion grossed $89,107,235 in the U.S. and $197,061,337 internationally, bringing the worldwide total to $286,168,572.
Oblivion received mixed reviews. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 53% based on 223 reviews, with the site's consensus stating "Visually striking but thinly scripted, Oblivion benefits greatly from its strong production values and an excellent performance from Tom Cruise." The film has an average score of 5.9/10. Metacritic gives the film a score of 54 out of 100 based on 41 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter stated "Oblivion is an absolutely gorgeous film dramatically caught between its aspirations for poetic romanticism and the demands of heavy sci-fi action". Justin Chang of Variety said "Insofar as Oblivion is first and foremost a visual experience, a movie to be seen rather than a puzzle to be deciphered, its chief pleasures are essentially spoiler-proof." Kevin Harley of Total Film gave the film three stars and said "It isn’t a reboot or reimagining, refreshingly, but Oblivion plays like a stylised remix of superior sci-fi ground-breakers".
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- Official website
- Oblivion on Facebook
- Oblivion on Twitter
- Oblivion at the Internet Movie Database
- Oblivion at the TCM Movie Database
- Oblivion at Rotten Tomatoes