‘Tis the summer of dystopian sci-fi movies. The pitcher is known for throwing curveballs, and first up to bat is Tom Cruise’s “Oblivion.” While it doesn’t strike out, it also doesn’t knock anything out of the ballpark.
An alien race blows up Earth’s moon and sends the world into a series of natural disasters. Once most of the human race is wiped out, the invasion happens. The humans win, but Earth is no longer habitable, and they are forced to leave.
About 50 years later, Jack Harper’s (Cruise, “Jack Reacher”) job is to repair security drones that protect hydroelectric plants, which convert Earth’s water into energy to be used on the new human colonies on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons.
But when Jack discovers a human survivor in cryosleep, and later a colony of human survivors, he begins to question the validity of his mission and the story of what really happened to destroy the Earth all those years ago.
At first look, “Oblivion” appears to have genuine potential to be an incredible story. Unfortunately, it drags. Every time it seems like the movie is beginning to wind down, another half hour appears out of nowhere. Some of those events are important and enjoyable, but they could be condensed and repackaged to better serve the overall story.
The movie is also painfully predictable. Even without seeing the trailer, it’s easy to guess what’ll happen later on, simply due to dialogue.
Jack Harper says he wishes he could remain in a certain place for the rest of his life, and eventually he does — though there’s no telling how long that life may or may not be.
The same thing happens with other characters. If they say something even slightly profound, the audience knows to expect the event in the future.
One of the movie’s greatest sins is its misuse of Morgan Freeman (“Olympus Has Fallen”). This man is more likable, more popular and a far better actor than Cruise. Attaching his name to a movie is a sure-fire way to promote an epic sensation in a movie, but in order to give moviegoers their money’s worth, Freeman has to actually be on the screen for a large portion of the movie.
Don’t misunderstand, Freeman’s character is good — great, even — but he isn’t on screen enough for viewers to fully appreciate him. His character has so much potential, but viewers are lucky if he appears for more than seven minutes of the total movie. In a two-hour film, this is inexcusable.
Despite this, the worst and most frustrating part of the movie is the only major plot point not given away in the trailer, so it won’t be discussed here.
Viewers take heed, the plot ultimately goes in a different direction than the trailer suggests, and for once, that’s actually a bummer.
“Oblivion” isn’t horrible, though. It’s worth a Sunday matinee showing, but don’t spend more than $7 on a ticket.
Release Date: April 19, 2013
Run Time: 126 minutes
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Starring: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko