Movie Review - Oblivion (2013)

It's the house in 'The Jetsons' meets
Cloud City in ''The Empire Strikes Back'
Joseph Kosinski's second feature is set in 2077. It's a sci-fi action film starring Tom Cruise. Remember when Tom Cruise was a dramatic actor? Well, he's no longer that. He's an out-and-out action star. He does nothing unless there's action. The only problem he's better at action where he's actually doing the physical stunts, where he's running, jumping and fighting, à la the Mission: Impossible films. There's less of that here. It's more computer-generated, b.s. As such, I practically found this film to be boring. I could have done with its little action, if it was supplanted with more compelling or intelligent sci-fi ideas or situations.

Tom Cruise plays Jack Harper, a maintenance worker whose job is to repair flying, robotic drones that guard fusion reactors that turn ocean water into energy. These fusion reactors power the human colony on Titan, the largest moon orbiting Saturn and the most likely place for terra-forming. Why are the drones necessary? For protection! Supposedly, there are aliens that want to destroy or disrupt them. These aliens are called Scavengers or Scavs.

As many other critics have pointed out, this film rips off or has numerous references to other sci-fi films, including 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Planet of the Apes (1968), Star Wars (1977), The Matrix (1999), Wall-E (2008) and Moon (2009). I even saw nods to The Twilight Zone and the animated series The Jetsons.

All of this would have been fine, if again the film wasn't so boring. Writers Joseph Kosinski, Karl Gajdusek and Michael DeBruyn don't give Cruise much to do. He just sits around in his flying car the entire time. A video game, shoot-em-up sequence had me yawning. He does get a fight scene that's well choreographed, but I was more impressed with a similar fight scene in the TV series Star Trek (1966). If anyone remembers Season 3, Episode 14, titled "Whom Gods Destroy," then you know what I mean.

A quasi-romance is attempted and a love triangle is introduced where Cruise has Andrea Riseborough as Victoria on one side and Olga Kurylenko as Julia on the other. There is so little heat, so little passion that it's relationships in which you can't invest. Even a skinny dip scene didn't raise the on-screen temperature.

One Star out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, brief strong language and some sensuality.
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 4 mins.


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