If it were not for Black Panther, the most anticipated film to grace the big screen, that accolade would easily have gone to Oblivion 3031. The remake of the cult classic Oblivion might have gone unnoticed were it not for the fandom’s tireless efforts to promote it. You may remember how in the closing stages of last year’s Olympics an image of the films logo was beamed directly onto the Pyramid at Giza sparking uproar and simultaneously curiosity for a film that was already a legend before its release.
Set in the Wild West, the American town of Giza has finally finished construction of the Rune Pyramid. Fans of the original will remember the quest to complete it being the main focal point of the film, but now we have the Rune Pyramid sorted by the end of the opening credits. Familiar face Giles, the cowboy alien we took into our hearts, looks on, satisfied that the grand task has finally been completed and turns to the General Store. Paying homage to Hudson Hawk, from which the film is so obviously and openly inspired by, Giles orders a pie, but just before he can taste it he is summoned outside by the sounds of screams.
It’s hard to talk about the plot without giving away too much of the details, so I’ll do my best to stay out of spoiler territory. Needless to say, completion of the Rune Pyramid has not ushered in the email of peace and prosperity we all expected. Instead, life goes on as normal, which would be fine if you weren’t battling the hordes of Oblivion amirite? And so Giles and returning psy-goth Morticia must investigate to find out what has gone wrong with the Rune Pyramid to have things stay as they were? We follow Giles and Morticia (ably played once more by Christopher Plummer and Genevieve Bujold) to the thrilling conclusion that I cannot give away.
But wait a minute you cry, is this a sequel or a remake? Well, therein lies the beauty of it because the answer to that is; yes. Oblivion 3031 has always been described as a remake, a reimagining, a reboot and whatever other re- words you want to put in here. But the characters return, reprising their roles, and are clearly older as a result and they continue with many of the threads began in Oblivion. So it’s a sequel then? Well, sort of. Bear with me because this shit is deep.
Oblivion was first and foremost an exploration of the American Dream with the Rune Pyramid the ultimate expression of rags to riches. The people of Giza have nothing except their excellent apple tarts and laser six-shooters, but they pool what little they have to build the Rune Pyramid, knowing that once it is completed their lives will be all the better for it. It will herald a new age of stability, prosperity, and of course, having the power to defeat Oblivion once and for all; peace. But Oblivion 3031 sees the completion of the Rune Pyramid and the results, or rather lack of, this produces. It is a remake and a sequel. Giles and Morticia once more attempt to find their American Dream, but they are older now and have experience, they’re even a little jaded. But like people who attempt to turn their rags to riches, their attempts are both a reimagining of what they’ve already done and a follow on from. In his directorial debut, Sean Bean draws together the threads of futility with the idea that any man can better his station to its stunning conclusion which (and I’m not giving too much away here) reveals that yeah you can but why? Is America all that great? Likewise is the Rune Pyramid all that fantastic? Have things really changed?
When Oblivion was released the American Dream meant something. The America of today is riddled with accusations of bigotry on one hand and liberalism on the other. Build wall cries one, let everyone who’s ever looked at us in cries the other. It is a fractured America that is represented in Oblivion 3031, a world away almost from the dream that was presented to us just twenty-five years ago, but feels like so much longer.
By the end, when Giles like Hudson, finally gets his pie, we are weeping along with him, we know what is going to happen before Giles does, but it would take a heart of stone not to sob as he takes that bite and realises that the pie, like the American Dream, is stale.