Reel Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Reels
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, brief strong language, and some sensuality/nudity
Released in Theaters: April 19, 2013 (2D, IMAX)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Runtime: 126 minutes
Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
Cast: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Melissa Leo, Zoe Bell
Official Site: Oblivion
Through all of his craziness and Scientology press over the years, I’ve always liked Tom Cruise as an actor. There’s not a lot of range there. He plays pretty much the same character in every movie, which is Tom Cruise playing Tom Cruise. But he’s reliable. You know what you’re going to get, whether it’s a sci-fi movie like “War of the Worlds,” a cult franchise like “Mission Impossible,” or a political thriller like “A Few Good Men.”
Sometimes he’ll step out of the Tom Cruise role and do something different, like he did in “Tropic Thunder” and “Rock of Ages.” Then we’re reminded that he’s indeed a good actor who can do something different from his norm. That’s great, but I’m actually ok when he sticks to his “Tom Cruise playing Tom Cruise” roles.
Even better when he throws in some comedy. “Knight and Day,” his romantic comedy/action thriller with Cameron Diaz, is one of my very favorite Cruise movies. I’ve been hoping for a sequel, but nothing is planned. However, there IS an “Untitled Les Grossman Project” in the works. That’s his crazy agent character from “Tropic Thunder.” That’ll be fun.
“Oblivion” is a “Tom Cruise playing Tom Cruise” role, although I wouldn’t have minded even more Cruise. The line from the trailer where he asks the mysterious woman, “Who ARE you?!” is the Tom Cruise moment in this film. More of that, please.
But look, “Oblivion” is great for what it is — a sci-fi thriller with lots of action, some heartfelt moments, and an interesting story, despite the fact that it steals mercilessly from “Star Wars,” “The Matrix,” “Robocop,” “Doctor Who,” and “Demolition Man.”
It’s the year 2077, and humans no longer live on Earth. Instead, they reside on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Left behind are Jack (Tom Cruise) and Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), the “mop-up crew” tasked with repairing drones before they, too, can join the rest of the surviving population on Titan. The drones are there to make sure nothing’s amiss and terminate all alien scavengers, a.k.a. “scavs.”
Jack and the prim and proper Victoria are a couple both romantically and professionally. She runs the high-tech controls at their ultra-modern flat hovering high in the sky, while Jack patrols the Earth in his ultra-modern cruiser. Together, they’re an “effective team,” as she always assures Sally (Melissa Leo), the southern-drawled leader back at the mother ship known as “Tet.”
Everything is running smoothly, but Jack, a.k.a. Tech 49, keeps having odd flashback dreams, even though his memory was wiped out with a mandatory mind sweep several years earlier. In the dream, he’s with a woman in post-apocalyptic Earth, and they’re at the Empire State Building looking out on Earth.
Things get even more interesting when that same woman crashes on Earth, and Jack learns who she really is. Julia (Olga Kurylenko) is much more than a dream, and the Scavs may not be the threat that Jack and Victoria have been led to believe. After meeting the leader of a group of underground bunker-ites (Morgan Freeman), Jack has to decide whether he’s going to follow protocol and leave Earth for Titan, or stay and trust a bunch of strangers he’s just met.
I wouldn’t say that “Oblivion’s” storyline is the most unique or interesting, because of its major rip-off from the aforementioned sci-fi films. There’s even a scene where Jack is flying his cruiser through a trench that’s just like the scene in “Star Wars” where Luke Skywalker flies the trench to destroy the Death Star.
But all that aside, “Oblivion” is still pretty entertaining, thanks to director Joseph Kosinski’s stunning visuals of a post-apocalyptic Earth. The sweeping landscapes of a barren dustbowl and abandoned “Life After People” landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge and Washington Monument are flanked by a lush little hideaway next to a lake that Jack’s built out of scavenged materials, right down to a vintage album collection that includes Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Procol Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale.”
Cruise manages to have good chemistry with both Riseborough and Kurylenko, and the action scenes are terrific, thanks to his mastery with the sci-fi genre. Morgan Freeman gets top billing on the posters, but is only in the film for about three minutes. Still, Kosinski takes full advantage of his powerful voice and calm demeanor.
“Game of Thrones” fans will love the casting of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and Melissa Leo as the floating head in space is both mysterious and slightly unsettling.
The story lags a bit here and there, but is “Oblivion” worth seeing in the theater? I say yes, especially if you love Tom Cruise movies or the sci-fi genre. Also, the PG-13 rating is on target, which makes this movie ok for kids 13 and older.
Sex/Nudity: In their little home hovering in the sky, Jack and Victoria sleep together, shower together and kiss several times, sometimes passionately. In one scene, Victoria seduces Jack by undressing (we see her nude back), jumping into a pool and inviting him to join her. Another couple kisses, and it’s implied that they make love, but nothing is shown.
Violence/Gore: A few characters die or are injured, but very little blood is shown (Jack ends up with a scar on his nose for the second half of the movie). The drones are menacing a la “Robocop,” and will instantly incinerate anyone or thing they’re programmed to terminate. Some explosions, hand-to-hand fights, gunfire, and lots of peril. Jack ends up captured and handcuffed to a chair in one scene.
Profanity: One use of “f*ck.” A few uses of “damn,” “sh*t,” “hell,” “goddamn,” “oh my God,” and “bitch.”
Drugs/Alcohol: A character smokes a cigar. Jack and Victoria drink what appears to be alcohol with dinner.
Which Kids Will Like It? Kids 13 and older who like sci-fi action dramas or Tom Cruise movies.
Will Parents Like It? The PG-13 rating is on target, and the movie is mostly entertaining, though drags a bit here and there.
JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.