May 24, 2013

Oblivion Grade: C+ Director: Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy) Screenplay: Karl Gajdusek (Trespass), Michael DeBruyn, from Joseph Kosinski graphic novel. Cast: Tom Cruise (Jack Reacher), Olga Kuryenko (To the Wonder) Rating: PG-13 Runtime: 124 min. by John DeSando “I can't shake the feeling, that earth, inspite of all that's happened, earth is still my home.” Jack Harper Ordinarily, I am loathe to like romance in science fiction as it seems pedestrian when set off against the shenanigans of man in the universe. The exception is Oblivion, a comfortable, cliched sci-fi set in 2077, starring a nimble and valorous Tom Cruise as a somewhat poetic veteran pilot Jack, whose two beautiful women make reasonable demands of him; he handles the complications with finesse and a sense of the importance of love. He’s a mop-up operative, fixing drones on a vacated earth that has been attacked by aliens, who have retreated but left the victors with an inhospitable, post-apocalyptic mess and some unsavory survivors. Almost everyone has gone to one of Jupiter’s moons, to which Jack is not anxious to go because of his love of Earth (see quote above). Jack’s a charming Han Solo in a plane that looks like a child’s fantasy helicopter. His girl, Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), communicates with him as he does his daily rounds. However, meeting Morgan Freeman, in his usual sage persona (as rebel leader Malcolm Beech), changes Jack forever. Beech has a bit of Obi Wan in him, enough to make Jack rethink why he’s doing this work, and for whom. Meeting a woman from his past, Julia (Catherine-Zeta Jones lookalike, Olga Kuryenko), threatens his now-erased memory to return). Eventually the plot devolves into taking care of business with a kind of Death Star hovering over earth and attempting to rejuvenate the bucolic ideals of early America. Although the ending is pure American pat, the film proper is beautifully designed (Darren Guilford) and photographed (Claudio Miranda of Life of Pi fame). Oblivion is not great science fiction, just enjoyable fare for the summer. Cruise is still a top action dog, for my money, giving a stare that question everything he encounters with a smile just a bit shy of rye. He’s not comic here, but he is romantic while the story turns on love as much as finding a home. With the body of a 20 year old and an inward strength, Cruise should last as a hero well into his 70’s, as apparently Harrison Ford will do as well. And so, Oblivion is derivative of Star Wars, Star Trek, Total Recall, The Matrix and a host of popular sci-fi adventures. However, enough originality and Cruise’s durability mean you won’t be wasting your money. Nor do you need to put up with 3-D. “If we have souls, they're made of the love we share. Undimmed by time, unbound by death.” Jack John DeSando co-hosts WCBE 90.5’s It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics, which can be heard streaming and on-demand at Contact him at