Oblivion (Blu-ray) (2013)

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Released 8-Aug-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Sci-Fi Action Audio Commentary-Tom Cruise and Joseph Kosinski
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Making Of-Promise of a New World: The Making of Oblivion
Isolated Musical Score
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2013
Running Time 124:42
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Joseph Kosinski
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Tom Cruise
Andrea Riseborough
Morgan Freeman
Olga Kurylenko
Melissa Leo
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Anthony Gonzalez
Joseph Trapanese


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 7.1
French DTS HD Master Audio 7.1
Italian DTS HD Master Audio 7.1
Spanish dts 5.1
Isolated Music Score dts 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Danish
Finnish
Icelandic
Norwegian
Portuguese
Swedish
Arabic
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

Are you still an effective team?

     In 2017 the Earth was attacked by aliens called Scavengers who destroyed the Earth’s moon. Humans fought back using nuclear weapons and won, but made the Earth a dead planet. The surviving humans moved to a Space Station above the Earth, then to Titan, a moon of Saturn. Decades later, in 2077, huge hydraulic machines on Earth suck up the sea water, converting it to energy for the humans on Titan. A few human teams remain on Earth living in sterile sky towers; their task is to maintain the drones which protect the water gathering machines from the remnants of the aliens, Scavs, who live underground and try to sabotage the water towers. One such team is Communications Officer Victoria “Vica” (Andrea Riseborough) and drone maintenance technician Jack Harper (Tom Cruise). In the space station above the Earth their controller Sally (Melissa Leo) asks frequently if the two are “an effective team”.

     Jack and Vica have only two weeks remaining of their tour of duty on Earth. Vica is an attractive but unimaginative by the book officer; she only wants to finish the tour and go to Titan. Jack, on the other hand, is reluctant to leave. He has found a refuge; a cabin in a hidden green valley where he can relax with objects from before the war he has collected, including records and books. Jack is also having visions of a time before the war, of a time before he was born and of a woman he does not know. Then one day an unidentified space capsule crashes and when Jack investigates he discovers that it is a pre-war human craft and that there are human survivors. But before he can fully investigate, drones attack and kill all the survivors except one whom Jack saves. The survivor is Julia (Olga Kurylenko), the woman who was in Jack’s dreams. To go any further here would be to provide spoilers; needless to say things are not what they seem, Jack is not who he believes he is and the Scavs not quite the enemy.

     Oblivion is an impressive, spectacular science fiction film by director Joseph Kosinski, whose only previous film was TRON: Legacy (2010). Kosinski also wrote the original story for the graphic novel that is the basis for Oblivion although, perhaps sensibly, he did not write the film’s screenplay.

     There is a lot to enjoy in Oblivion. Photographed partly in Iceland, the film looks absolutely stunning, courtesy of cinematographer Claudio Miranda who won an Oscar for Life of Pi (2012). Oblivion is deliberately set in a world of bright daylight, the director commenting in the extras that he wanted to get away from the vision of the dark future that seems almost mandatorily since Blade Runner (1982). This does not mean that Oblivion is colourful; while it is brightly lit, the sets, including the sky towers, the bleak desolated landscapes and the costumes have a monotone of metallic greys, whites and blacks. This gives the film a spartan, monochrome look that is very effective especially when the colour palate is in contrast to the bright greens, yellows and blues of Jack’s hidden valley retreat. The film’s sound design is also impressive. Most films these days provide aggressive audio in action sequences, and Oblivion is no different, but where it also shines is during the non-action scenes when all the speakers are utilised for weather effects, dripping water, the engines of the drones and the Bubbleship and especially for the electronic beeps of the drones when they are off screen so we are always aware of their presence.

     There is only a small cast in Oblivion. Morgan Freeman gets second billing, but in truth his role is minimal. Tom Cruise is good and does what is required, and more, but the standouts are the women. Olga Kurylenko is beautiful with sad, knowing eyes, but it is Andrea Riseborough who is sensational in a much more complex role, one that requires her to be staid, confused and not really understanding what is happening.

     Ostensibly simple, Oblivion starts to reveal layers of complexity and ideas with a convoluted chronology and flashbacks that gradually reveal the true position. However, it is almost a case of too many ideas, and the last third of the film does not quite live up to the compelling first 70 minutes.

     Nevertheless, Oblivion is an audacious, beautifully photographed film, full of complex ideas and with impressive action sequences. While the film falls short of true greatness, one can only applaud the ambition of the filmmakers and the spectacle and enjoy the ride because Oblivion is one of the best science fiction films of the last few years.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Oblivion is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, close to the 2.35:1 original ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     As noted in the review, the film looks stunning courtesy of cinematographer Claudio Miranda. Both close up and wide shot detail is crisp and pristine, with the whiskers and grime on Cruise’s face finely detailed. The barren, black landscapes of Iceland are beautifully rendered while the sets and the costumes have a monotone of metallic greys, whites and blacks that are pointedly contrasted with the bright greens, yellows and blues of Jack’s hidden valley retreat. Blacks were rock solid, shadow detail in the underground lair of the Scavs perfect. Contrast and brightness are consistent, skin tones fine.

     The print has obviously been manipulated in post- production to wash out colour in many sequences or add a yellowy filter to the underground scenes but other than minor ghosting with movement against chequered backgrounds artefacts and marks are absent.

     Subtitles are available in a range of European languages, Arabic and English for the hearing impaired.

     A beautiful print that will enhance your enjoyment of the film.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio choices are English, French and Italian DTS-MA HD 7.1, Spanish DTS 5.1, English Dolby Digital 2.0 audio description, isolated music score DTS 5.1 plus English audio commentary in Dolby Digital 2.0.

     Unfortunately I only have a 5.1 speaker set up, so cannot evaluate the 7.1, but even so the audio of Oblivion is fabulous. Dialogue, except for a few lines from Morgan Freeman, is clear, centred and easy to understand. Oblivion provides the normal loud and aggressive audio during action scenes with engines, gunfire, debris, explosions and ricochets all around the sound stage with lots of panning effects. But the film also shines in the non-action sequences where all the speakers are utilised for weather effects, dripping water, the engines of the drones and the Bubbleship, as well as the electronic beeps of the drones when they are off screen. The score is also an ever-present. The subwoofer added effective bass to the explosions, gunfire, engine roar and the music.

     The electronic, percussion, orchestra and choral score, composed by Anthony Gonzalez and Joseph Trapanese and performed by M83, is fabulous and enhances the film experience. Added tracks by Led Zeppelin and Procol Harum are delightful and relevant to the plot.

     Lip synchronisation was fine.

     The audio track is reference quality.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Audio Commentary by Tom Cruise and Joseph Kosinski

     Director and star sit together. They talk non-stop discussing locations, practical effects, front projection, the sound design and the actors but tend to be very mutually complimentary and say :I love this” or “look at this” a bit. I found parts of the commentary somewhat bland, but this commentary is an essential listen because they also talk about influences, background information to the story and plot points, allowing a greater understanding of some of the complexities of the film.

Deleted Scenes (4:25)

     Four deleted scenes: Bubbleship Flyby, Stadium – Original Opening, Medkit and The Archives. Nothing essential.

Promise of a New World: The Making of Oblivion

     This making of is divided into five sections and includes behind the scenes footage plus sound bites from what seems to be everyone involved in the production, including producers, art director, production designer, set decorator, location and production managers, engineers, technicians, stunt coordinators and stunt men, make up, technical advisor, safety officer, visual effects supervisors and digital compositors. More substantial comments come from the director / writer Joseph Kosinski, star Tom Cruise and executive producer Jesse Berger. The most obvious omissions are cinematographer Claudio Miranda and Morgan Freeman. Despite the fragmentary nature of some of the sound bites, as a whole this featurette is well done and worth watching. There is no play all option; each section is selected individually.

     The sections are:

    Destiny (11:02): Development of the story from drawings to graphic novel, the Iceland shoot and the use of practical sets and front projection techniques instead of green screen. Includes some very interesting concept sketches.

    Voyage (9:31): The design, testing and building of the Bubbleship.

    Combat (15:50): Behind the scenes footage of how the Bubbleship practical sequences were filmed, the motor bike stunts (including a spill), the archive sequence and filming the Tom vs. Tom fight. Some extra comments come from actors Olga Kurylenko, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Zoe Bell.

    Illusion (5:39): How CGI was used in the film, including pre-vis and the drone attack.

    Harmony (6:1): Recording the film’s score. Additional comments from composer Anthony Gonzalez and composer / orchestrator Joseph Trapanese.

M83 Isolated Score

     A musical score that is well worth listening to. This audio track can be selected from both the extras and set up menus.

     Oblivion comes with an Ultraviolet redemption code.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Blu-ray releases of Oblivion in all regions are identical.

Summary

     Oblivion is an audacious, beautiful film full of stunning visuals, complex ideas and impressive action sequences. Oblivion is one of the best science fiction films of recent years, a must see for anyone interested in the genre.

     The video and audio are superb. The extras are worthwhile resulting in an exceptional Blu-ray package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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