With just two weeks to go, Jack's partner is eager to wrap things up and leave a now desolate Earth.

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OK. OK. Two reviews in less than six months seems like I'm developing a man crush on Mr. Tom Cruise but, I promise you it's just a coincidence. I'm just using this movie review as a test of PostHaven's new blogging platform. (no really…with Posterous shutting down it is a valid exercise.)

I was looking forward to this movie, having followed the trailers and featurettes on the bubbleship and how they shot the skytower, via the internet and other media outlets. Regardless of what you think of the film, one thing is for certain - in DC at least - the combination of marketing and paid off. Tom Cruise can still open a big movie weekend. In the Washington DC metro area it was hard to find a ticket, shows were sold out through midnight on Saturday and I was lucky enough to snag one for the IMAX presentation.

Usually I'm not a fan of 3D or IMAX but in the case of Oblivion, this is exactly what the movie needed. Amazing in its scope, you get a feel for the sky tower, the empty landscapes and the results of an Earth wasted by elemental change as a result of a devastated moon. The first half of the movie is pristine. We are introduced to Jack Harper (Cruise), a drone tech with a full complement of science fiction toys: the impossibly clean bubbleship with a 270 degree view of the world, a next gen motorcycle and the requisite pulse weapon. Jack along with his "teammate" and operator Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) are the mop up crew. With only two weeks left in their rotation before they return to the Mothership. The Mothership headed for Titan, one of Saturn's moons.

They're leaving Earth, along with the rest of humanity, because even though they won the war with the long gone aliens, the Earth is no longer fit to support life. They're there to repair drones who are protecting giant ships meant to harvest the last of Earths resources before the Titan trip.

Yet Jack, who keeps having memories of a past prior to the invasion, can't help but think perhaps they're wrong, perhaps they're meant to stay on Earth for just a little longer.

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The last half of the movie devolves into echoes of other movies you might have seen before, if you're a big fan of science fiction. I'll leave those 5-6 movies unnamed because they would give away key plot points. This doesn't make the movie any less enjoyable because of the rush of emotion in the second half of the movie. As Jack Harper, Cruise is equal parts stoic and lonely individual looking to connect. As Victoria, Andrea Riseborough does credit to her classical stage acting background by living the part of a "team member", lover, spouse (it's never spelled out in the movie) - who is torn between her feelings for Jack and her desire to leave the planet.

The aforementioned BubbleShip and SkyTower. (all the comforts of home)

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Though Oblivion was based on producer/director Joseph Kosinski's unpublished graphic novel of the same name, you will undoubtably leave the movie knowing he was heavily influenced by works that came before. In many ways that's all right -- as it doesn't diminish the enjoyment of the movie. If anything, it makes you want to view the movies you think influenced Kosinski -- to see if your hypothesis is correct. Keep in mind there are only seven plots (some say 12) in storytelling so in the bigger scheme of things -- it's often how you tell a story and to whom that determines success and resonance.

For me Oblivion marks the kickoff of the Summer Movie season, and it can only get better. Grab some popcorn, get smack dab in the middle of that IMAX screen and soak it all in.


Returning from four weeks of vacation spent overseas in Southeast Asia, on a visit home to Laos, I was jonesing for a catch-up weekend on all the first movies I had missed while I was MIA. The obvious selection for my first reinsertion into the U.S. pop-culture machine should have been the new James Bond flick, Skyfall. However, the new movie Jack reacher just seemed too compelling. I was pleasantly surprised by my last minute pivot. (Future posts will eventually cover the Southeast Asia adventure — I promise).

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Check your movie critic hat at the door upon entering the theater and you'll be treated to a solid and entertaining two hours and 11 minutes. If you're familiar with the Lee Child thrillers, on which the Jack Reacher movie has been fashioned, you'll spend a little time getting over the fact that Tom Cruise is not the Jack Reacher from the novels. Cruise does an outstanding job of portraying Jack Reacher. By the end of the first act, any reservations you may have had regarding the fact that he's not six foot five, brawny or blond – is replaced by the fact that Cruise truly inhabits the character of Jack Reacher. Unbending, stoic and morally unconfused, Cruise's version of Jack Reacher is without scruples when it comes to seeing that justice is served (versus what is right or wrong based on proof). Audiences will gravitate to him because he sees the world in black and white with few if any shades of gray.

 He's a modern day Dirty Harry without the magnum, the Terminator without the mechanical directive, the Punisher without the comic book affectations.

 Critics will complain that the plot, as it unfolds, makes it obvious to cinephiles exactly what is going on — and if you're an attentive movie watcher you'll realize that part is true. The movie has less to do with keeping the audience in the dark and more to do with keeping them guessing how the Jack Reacher character will resolve the problem(s) at hand.

 Here's where all the joy in Jack Reacher comes to a head — women will swoon (like the women in the movie) for Reacher and men will gravitate towards his level of control. On this latter point, it's a level of control that allows Reacher to drop off the grid, untethering himself from the indignity of modern life, the binds of mortgage payments and the demands of a wired life. A quote from the actual book explains how he got to be this way, "I was in the machine. My whole life. Then the machine coughed and spat me out. So I thought, OK, if I'm out, I'm out. All the way out. I was a little angry and it was probably an immature reaction. But I got used to it.”

In essence, Jack Reacher is his own man, living life on his own terms.

Armed with a military background that gives him the chops to back up his understated bravado Jack Reacher, as played by Cruise, is the antithesis of the Arnold Schwarzenegger era action hero. Jack Reacher's first line of defense is intellect, which prevents him from responding to every obstacle with a catchphrase and a hail of bullets fired from an automatic weapon.

Everyone involved with this movie seemingly brought their "A" game, with top billed cast turning in solid performances. Director Christopher McQuarrie ( Usual Suspects) also brings his formidable talents to the project and it shows - from sound design, music and cinematography the all the work is impeccable.

I'm sure studio execs are holding their breath, waiting on weekly box office totals, to see if this will be a breakout hit. Waiting to see if this movie will provide them with a franchise with a wealth of source material. At last count, Lee Childs has had at least 16 Jack Reacher books published. And for pure fun the Reacher novels are easily the best thriller series going. Let us hope this movie, based on the novel "One Shot", is the first of many more to come.