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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.
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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.
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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.