Oblivion – Steelbook (Blu-ray)

June 4, 2014 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton and Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

I’ve got to hand it to Tom Cruise.  The guy has done the unthinkable and made it work for him. A high school dropout, a would be Catholic priest and he’s been arguably the biggest movie star in the world for the past three decades.  To his credit, he does have good looks, has aged incredibly well (he’s now over 50 years old) and has been very fortunate.  Still, for someone who hasn’t had to worry about money since Reagan was in office, clearly he’s doing what he loves. Part of what made Cruise a star was his equal appeal to both women and men.  Women for obvious reasons and men wanted to be the characters he played (or maybe it was Lt. Pete Mitchell in Top Gun). The last decade has seen Cruise take a lot more risks and, when you think about it, he’s delved a lot more into the action/science-fiction genre.  With films like Minority Report, War of the Worlds, the Mission: Impossible films and now Oblivion; Cruise has shown that he’s not immune to a very distinct genre.  Oblivion does represent a bit of an odd choice, though.  Created from a graphic novel published in 2005, it’s been called a live-action version of Pixar’s Wall-E.  Whatever the case, let’s once again delve into the post-apocalpytic future and see what Mr. Cruse has in store, shall we?

Jack Harper (Tom Cruise), a technician who specializes in repairing drones, is trying to figure things out.  He and partner, communications liaison Vica Olsen (Andrea Riseborough), look over Zone 49 as if it’s their own.  It is, actually.  But their job is to ensure that the drones are running on schedule so that Earth’s sea water can be converted for use by the Tet (the god-like rulers of the world, so to speak).  Of course if things were to go on as planned, we wouldn’t have a movie.  Jack, while exploring the remains of the planet, comes across a scant society of survivors who have been waging a war against the drones and are starting to do some real damage.  Jack, believing there to be no survivors on the planet, is in a state of disbelief as they lay out to him what exactly has been going on.  It’s now a choice between loyalty to all that he’s known or those that represent change.  What to do?

If that plot synopsis sounded a bit dis-jointed, it’s for a reason.  There are several items in the movie that, if revealed, would literally ruin it for the viewer and I don’t want to do that.  And after having viewed Oblivion, I was left wanting a bit.  No, it’s not a bad movie – I admire the scope and the way they handled several different things.  Cruise is his typical self, trying to be as macho as he can while still having that “guy next door” look and appeal to him.  Aside from Morgan Freeman, who I’ve decided is in every movie (he or Bruce Willis), there aren’t too many recognizable faces.  Filmed mainly on location in Iceland, the movie does have a very desolate look and feel to it, but aside from the visuals there wasn’t anything too terribly original.  Is it worth seeing?  You bet.  Would I put it up there with some of Cruise’s better movies?  I don’t think so.  Oblivion will most likely, like most all of Cruise’s more recent choices, polarize viewers.

Video: How’s it look?

The transfer is quite stunning and since this is a visual film, that certainly helps matters. The AVC encoded (2.40:1) image is supremely crisp and clean with virtually no flaws to speak of. Black levels are strong, details consistent and the effects are well blended with the live action elements. The scenery is quite nice in this film and this certainly enhances the overall experience. There’s something of a clean look throughout the film (despite the nature of the plot itself) at least in the scenes in the drone and the transfer also helps to heighten that. The print is virtually flawless as well. No worries here.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The DTS HD track acts as a perfect companion to the transfer. It’s constantly active and the effects truly shine here. The drones add a nice bass to much of the film and help involve us more with the film. Surrounds do a good job of support and the little details here and there help keep things interesting. All channels remained active as well. As with the transfer, this track will please.

The isolated score is presented in Dolby TrueHD.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This edition is exclusive to Walmart and for steel-book collectors such as myself, this is quite possibly one of the nicer ones I’ve come across. The front image featuring the Tom Cruise character looking up at the now desolate earth with a waterfall pouring down is quite stunning. The rear image features an image of the base where Jack Harper resides with the clouds in the background. There’s also some nice inner art with Jack to the right, on a rock and an ocean view to the left. As I mentioned, this is a must-have if you’re even slightly into steel-books. There’s a slick finish to it as well. This is a combo pack with a DVD copy and digital copy code inside. Outside of packaging, this is the discs are identical to their respective retail versions.

  • Audio Commentary – This features the director and Tom Cruise as they provide notes during the film. Fans will enjoy the track.
  • Isolated M83 Score – I understand there’s a fan-base for these types of features, but I’m not one of them. I care little to sit down and listen to nothing outside of a film’s score. But if that’s you’re thing then by all means dive in. It’s presented in Dolby TrueHD.
  • Deleted Scenes – A series of 4 deleted/alternate scenes are presented here.
  • Promise of a New World – This is a 5 part documentary that covers virtually every aspect of the film’s production. The 5 sections are (Destiny, Voyage, Combat, Illusion and Harmony). There’s a lot of praising here, but we also learn about how Tom Cruise insists on doing his own stunts. The effects are also covered. As mentioned, every aspect is covered.

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