Oblivion: Movie review

Fair warning, this entry contains spoilers for the movie Oblivion, which opened this week.

Tonight, I really, really missed Roger Ebert.

But let’s back up a bit.

After a couple of tough days, I sought Oblivion tonight.  Not the kind induced by drugs or alcohol, but the kind induced by Tom Cruise in a massive sci-fi end-of-the-world movie.  Those who know me know that I am a sucker for this post-apocalyptic stuff; I mean, why else would I willingly go see a Tom Cruise movie?

I expected to to be underwhelmed, especially since I’d seen so many previews that seemed to tell the whole of what seemed to be a Matrix rip-off story in two minutes.  Plus, Tom Cruise.  I used to love him (hello, Top Gun and Mission Impossible I), but then he got weird.

Post-viewing, I find myself conflicted.  I enjoyed the movie, but it wasn’t awesome.  And here’s where Roger Ebert comes in.  I can pretty much guarantee that he would have written a review that perfectly summed up my thoughts; he always seemed to do that when it came to action-adventure blockbusters.  RIP, Roger.

Anyway, so there are a couple of reasons why I didn’t hate it, and one, oddly enough, was Tom Cruise.  He was really quite good, exuding a low-key charm that made you believe he actually could be the reluctant hero that he winds up being.  But it has to be said, the man is freakishly young-looking for 50 years old.  There’s a moment when he’s on a bike with his hair all spiky in the wind and I found myself thinking “does he get younger with age?”   We never see his trademark (and now creepy in my opinion) full-toothed grin, and at one point I found myself wondering how someone so short could have such long legs.

It has to be mentioned that those who believe that Tom Cruise thinks he is some exalted holy figure would be vindicated by this movie.  Basically ***MAJOR spoiler alert*** this could be Tom Cruise’s perfect world: everyone else has been wiped out, and millions of Tom and his red-headed wannabe Nicole Kidman sidekick clones run the world, and then the quasi-real Tom saves the day and impregnates his beautiful brown-haired wife, thus insuring the future of the human race.  I know, right?  It’s a megalomaniac’s wet dream.

But back to the movie.  I also liked it because it was pretty.  Pretty in a “New York City is now a seabed and DC is shoreline” kind of way.  The movie is full of big, sweeping, CGI shots that play up the isolation of Tom and his groupies.  Plus, the little house by the lake is where I want to live, eventually, although I’d prefer my house had doors and indoor plumbing.

And, I liked it because it did surprise me once or twice.  Of course, in many cases I could and did predict the next line of dialogue and I found a BIG FAT continuity problem at the very end, but hey, with so many laws of physics broken, what’s a few light years worth of discrepancy between friends?

Anyway, if you like big sci-fi epic adventure movies and can put up with some REALLY annoying exposition at beginning and end, this is a nice little escape.  Don’t expect anything as good as Firefly or the new Star Trek, but it’s not a total waste of time.   Oh, and I forgot!  It has Morgan Freeman, in another of those “why does he take these parts?” roles.  But he’s Morgan Freeman, so as far as I’m concerned, he can do whatever the heck he wants.

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