Oblivion

April 22, 2013 at 12:44 pm | Posted in 2013 | Leave a comment
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◊ ◊ ½

For the first of the summer movies, this was an acceptable bit of fluff.  It never required too much of the audience and rarely delivered more than was expected.  Everyone knows from the previews that something’s not quite right in this world but the plot twists unfold with varying level of surprise and at an appropriate pace.  Tom Cruise is at his Cruisiest best; it is nothing short of astonishing how good he looks for 50 and he carries out the hand-to-hand combat scenes like a guy half his age.  Pretty women and  men abound but none of them is terribly relevant to a film that puts Cruise at the center of virtually every scene.  What really stands out are the visuals.  Setting aside the implausibility of New York looking anything like that in a mere 65 years, the images of the buried city are beautiful, evocative and a bit haunting.  This interplay between the ruined planet and the ultra-cool technology of Cruise and his base are the best parts of the film.  The plot itself is a fairly uninspired mash-up of sci-fi we’ve seen before but is not particularly worse than any of those films.  It seems to me it has most of the elements of a sound genre movie: it is fairly well paced between action and exposition, it has a few twists, plenty of special effects, and a cool vision of the world.  The one thing it is missing, in spades, is a sense of humor.  When I think of all the blockbusters I have enjoyed in the past, they contain clever banter and a kind of self-mocking that lightens the heavy-handedness.  This film is just painfully serious.  As such, it feels like it is trying to impart a weight of importance that it cannot earn.  If it had borrowed, not just plot devices but actual tone, from films like “Independence Day,” it would have been a much better movie.

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