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Anthology of Interest: Oblivion

Release Date: April 22, 2013

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Tom Cruise stars in the new sci-fi film Oblivion

I’m glad to see that Hollywood has finally developed a fetish for post-apocalyptia.

As some of you may  have noticed, I’m a sucker for good science fiction. That’s exactly what Oblivion delivers.

We’re on Earth, only it’s not Earth anymore. It’s a war-ravaged wasteland. Several decades before the beginning of the film, alien invaders blew up the moon. This put our planet’s geologic balance out of wack; earthquakes and tsunamis destroyed most of our major cities. Having crippled us, the aliens launched a land invasion, but were defeated by our nukes. We won the war, but rendered our planet uninhabitable. We hear all of this narrated by Jack Harper (Tom Cruise), one of the few “custodians” left on Earth; everyone else is either on a giant space station called the “Tet” or on Titan, one of Saturn’s apparently habitable moons.

The first fifteen minutes of exposition was almost all voiceover – in most films, that’s a terrible thing to put an audience through. People are insanely impatient, and the job of a film’s first act is to catch the viewer’s attention. And yet, that’s exactly what Tom Cruise’s opening monologue does. The moon-being-blown-to-bits scenario was one of the coolest alien war stories I’ve ever heard, and the movie hadn’t even started yet. It set a great mood for the entire thing; throughout the film, we see the sundered remains of the moon clearly visible in the sky. To use a five dollar word that I’ll probably regret using, it was “sublime.”

And so, that’s where the film starts. I was hooked from the beginning, so I didn’t much mind Oblivion’s faults, which were mostly screenplay related; the awesome setting was somewhat wasted on generic long-lost-love dialogue and forgettable characters. Some of that might be due to Tom Cruise. No matter how many chances I give him, I’ll never see him as a character in a film. He’s never Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible (1996) or even Claus Von Stauffenberg in Valkyrie (2008); much like the older Hollywood stars – I’m thinking John Wayne and Charlton Heston – he’s always just Tom Cruise.

All things considered, I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I was especially tickled to find out that the director, Joseph Kosinski, also directed the award winning “Mad World” commercial  for Gears of War. The man has taste, to say the least. It’s also worth noting that Oblivion started out as a graphic novel – the transition from comic to film is never easy, so I’ll attribute some of this film’s failings to that inherent struggle.

I spent $8.50 on the ticket, and I wasn’t disappointed. Oblivon has great visuals and a spectacular premise, and if you care the least bit about the post-apocalyptic trend in film, I’m putting it under my “required reading” section. You guys care about that kind of stuff, right? Thought so.