Sometimes the first is the best. Such is the case for the best post-apocalyptic film ever made: “Planet of the Apes.” The genius in this film is that the audience is only given questions, not answers during the film. What planet did Charlton Heston land on? Why do the apes speak and men do not? How did apes learn to speak? And it is only at the ending scene as Heston rides horseback along a deserted shore is one big clue revealed…the destroyed statue of liberty.
In “Oblivion,” Jack (Tom Cruise) is a somewhat dim-witted veteran working with his wife Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) as they are the only Earthlings left on the planet with the task of keeping aliens away from precious machinery that is extracting Earth’s resources for the Earthling’s new home on a lunar colony far from Earth. They check-in each day with an orbiting ship called the Tet, to coordinate their day’s mission with Sally (Melissa Leo). But their mission is almost over, in two weeks they will be leaving Earth and rejoining their family and friends at their new home.
Victoria is at ease with their mission, but Jack has doubts. Despite having their memories wiped of past events, Jack has dreams of Earth at a different time and his love of another woman. In the meanwhile he fights with aliens that have remained on Earth and are hell-bent on destroying the machines that Jack is entrusted to maintain.
When a mysterious ship crash lands on Earth, Jack wants to investigate. But Sally warns Jack that the ship has crashed in an area that is too toxic from radiation and that he is forbidden to enter the area. When Jack’s curiosity gets the better of him, he finds that the life has been living is a sham and his whole world changes around him.
“Oblivion” has a few plot lines that are poorly written and could have been easily corrected during production. But given that a few things in the plot do not make sense, overall “Oblivion” is one of the best post-apocalyptic films I have seen.
It is an intriguing story and not as predictable as other films in the same genre. Tom Cruise has his own flare in the film that it is classic Tom Cruise. There are small hints to his prior roles tied into the film and the story is a bit corny at times, but I liked it.
Andrea Riseborough and Olga Kurylenko are both very good in their roles. Morgan Freeman and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (“Game of Thrones”) are also perfectly cast in the film. The “Oblivion” world is believable and the action mixed with the science fiction aspects make “Oblivion” the perfect film to watch during a hot summer day.
“Oblivion” will not go down in history as one of the best science fiction flicks like “Planet of the Apes,” but it’s a satisfying yarn as long as you don’t spend your time connecting all the plot lines. Just sit back and enjoy what Tom Cruise does best – entertain!
“Oblivion” is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, brief strong language, and some sensuality/nudity and has a run-time of 2 hours and 4 minutes.
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Whatever your movie choice this week, please remember your movie theater etiquette: silence your cell phones and no texting, please don’t talk during the film and remove your children if they become a distraction to other audience members. Don’t forget that laughing, crying and cheering are always approved behavior and even encouraged.
-Kay Shackleton is a film historian with special focus on Silent Films, see her work at SilentHollywood.com