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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Oblivion: The IMAX Experience | Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Andrea Riseborough, Olga Kurylenko, Melissa Leo | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

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Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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Oblivion: The IMAX Experience | Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Andrea Riseborough, Olga Kurylenko, Melissa Leo | Review

It's sometime in the 2070’s and Scavs (alien invaders) have forced the Earth into nuclear warfare with devastating consequences.

The planet is now an abandoned, radioactive mess, nearly dead.  Even the moon has been shattered and looms large in the sky in an arc of debris, like an immobile, permanent comet of destruction.  With its tide and climate regulator gone, Earth has been besieged by natural disasters as well.

Humanity is being transported to Titan, the largest of Saturn’s moons in a massive triangular space vessel called the Tet.

“Effective couple” Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) and Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) are stationed on a security detail in a stylish glass house on a pole among the clouds to oversee the drones that patrol earth in an effort to eliminate the persistently invasive Scavs, and protect the giant nuclear reactors that use seawater to send power to the Tet.  Jack and Victoria’s memories have been wiped in order to make them useless to the Scavs if captured.

Each morning, Tet Mission Control’s Sally (Melissa Leo) maintains audiovisual contact with Victoria while Jack revs up his flying machine each day to different earth sectors, rescuing and fixing lost or captured drones.  It is dangerous work, but Jack’s good at it.

The couple’s world is as orderly and routine as it can be, under the circumstances, except for the fact that Jack keeps having a recurring dream about a vibrant, population-filled New York and a woman that he seems to know but has never met.

When Jack rescues Julia (Olga Kurylenko) from a crashed spacecraft, he learns that she and the rest of the crew have been in suspended animation for decades.  Julia is only survivor; she’s also the woman in his dreams

Jack and Julia are captured by an armed, rebellious group of humans led by Morgan Freeman and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and  after a series of twists, discoveries and surprises, find that everything in the world as they know it (or even space, for that matter) is no longer what it seems to be and perhaps never was.  

Tom Cruise makes good use of his steely gaze and unflinching delivery as memory-wiped but dedicated Jack. Andrea Riseborough brings a crisp British “get on with it” presence that almost mirrors drone behavior (a good thing here).  Melissa Leo drawls into Sally’s mouth with an icy, all-business grin that commands attention as much as it annoys.  Morgan Freeman is Morgan Freeman (also a good thing here).  Olga Kurylenko’s Julia expands the entire ensemble’s emotional dimension into a decidedly more human range.

Director Joseph Kosinski (TRON: Legacy) adapted his own graphic novel (with co-writer Arvid Nelson) for the screenplay (along with Karl Gajdusek and Michael Arndt).  The result is a seamless visual adventure weaving digital effects with organic ones to create an alternate, battered Earth, still fully capable of pristine pockets of rural beauty amid urban devastation.

The somewhat convoluted plot might make some viewers confused, impatient or both, but revelations keep sprouting until the very end.  Although derivative (what’s not these days?) it’s refreshingly unpredictable in addition to being gorgeous and I’m not talking about the actors.  IMAX only enhances the sweep of distressed space and landscapes.

It may be called Oblivion, but this film is anything but.   


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