Cast: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko and Andrea Riseborough

Directed by and co-written for the screen by Joseph Kosinski

Running time: 127 minutes

Reviewed by Wayne C. Rogers

I broke down and went to the movies on Thursday after work. I actually wanted to see Olympus Has Fallen, but the scheduled show times had changed. So, I opted for Oblivion with Tom Cruise. I’d already seen the trailer for the film, and it looked pretty good.
The great news is that while at the theater I also saw the trailers for R.I.P.D. with Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds. That looked damned good. Then, there was the trailer for Elysium with Matt Damon. I hoped Oblivion would be as good as the preview for Elysium.

It wasn’t.

All through the movie I found myself wishing I was actually watching either R.I.P.D or Elysium, but I wasn’t.

The story takes place in 2077. Sixty years before, when a U.S. spacecraft was sent to one of Saturn’s moons, it encountered a monstrous alien spacecraft that later attacked earth for its sources of energy. The humans won the battle, but earth was destroyed in the process with large parts of it becoming radioactive and uninhabitable.

Now, in 2077, Jack Harper (Cruise) and Victoria (Andra Riseborough) man a module 24/7 and protect the Resource Gathering Stations against attack by the alien scavs. Their station is in the New York City sector, and the audience gets to see the ugly future of the Big Apple whenever Jack flies over it. Harper also fixes the drones when they break down. The drones play a major part in the film as they seek to destroy the scavs and anything else that will keep Jack from learning the truth about what is really going on.

It should be noted that Jack has a hidden getaway, located in an obscure valley that I assume is along the Hudson River somewhat north of the destroyed city. He disappears to his secret home for hours at a time to think and to wonder about earth’s past. It’s a place he built by hand near a peaceful river and is surrounded by lush trees and green landscaping. He also keeps the books and paintings there he has found in the war-torn library of New York City…stuff that he enjoys reading and looking at, along with other discoveries he has made over the years.

In time, through a set of unexpected circumstances, Jack will seek to find out what the scavs truly are, and that will force him to make a decision about his life and the immediate future.

Last, to aid Jack’s journey along, he has been having dreams of a strange, but beautiful lady. He doesn’t know who she is, but he knows he’s in love with her. Needless to say, this isn’t something he tells Victoria, knowing she wouldn’t care for him dreaming about other women. Plus, their minds were supposed to have been erased; yet, these memories keep appearing in Jack’s mind for better or worse.

Now, let me just get the positive aspects of the movie out of the way so I can get to the things that bothered me about the film.

The special effects are awesome, including the Resource Stations, the module where and Jack & Victoria (his mate) live, the drones, the destroyed city of New York, and the aircraft that Jack flies and the motorcycle he rides when on land. The alien spacecraft at the end is also mind blowing in how real it looks, reminding me a little of the gigantic mother ship at the end of Independence Day.

I personally thought Tom Cruise gave a fantastic performance, especially since he carried the majority of the movie on his shoulders. I’ve always thought that Tom got a bum rap as an actor because of his good looks. The thing is Tom Cruise is truly an excellent actor and gives each movie he’s in 200 percent of his effort and focus. In fact, The Last Samurai is on my Top Ten List of best movies ever to watch.

The problem with Oblivion is the story itself. I don’t know if there will be a Director’s Cut on DVD in several months in which another hour is added with many of the questions being answered. That’s the real issue—the ton of questions you have after the movie is over. When you think about it, you start to realize that the whole premise is somewhat reminiscent of other films and that little in the way of answers are presented to the viewing audience.

Okay, I just deleted thirteen questions which give away a lot of the movie. Writing them out was an hour wasted. Why spoil the whole movie for you? In fact, you might enjoy the film. It’s not a bad movie. It’s simply not a great film, which is what the trailer of it seemed to promise.

Is Oblivion worth seeing? Yes.

Tom Cruise does such a great job in his role as Jack Harper that I would recommend seeing it at with a discounted price (the matinee showing) or on DVD when it comes out.

I have to tell you that I knew what was going to happen within the first thirty minutes of the movie. I figured out who the lady in Jack Harper’s dream was and who the scavs really are. Similar things took place in both versions of Total Recall. With that in mind, there was very little in the way of surprises, which I think is a death sentence for a movie. The main reason Oblivion has done so good in its first two weeks of release is due to Tom Cruise and the misleading trailer that draws you into the film, making you want to see it.

Would I want to see the movie a second time? No.

Well, not unless a much longer version of it comes out on DVD in the near future…a version that answers many of the questions I and others had about the film.

That might actually happen.

Movie studios are notorious for changing elements within a film, hoping to please all the age groups out there. Unless a director has final cut approval in his contract, the studio can choose to cut a movie anyway they want, and no one can stop them. I therefore hope there will be a Director’s Cut of Oblivion.

Hell, I’m also hoping for a Director’s Cut of Prometheus.

Miracles do occasionally happen.

About Russ Thompson

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