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Critics Mostly Disappointed With 'Oblivion'

'Memories of earlier sci-fi dramas peek out of 'Oblivion' like bits of New York jutting out of the futuristic rubble.'

The year is 2077. Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) and Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) are work partners and lovers on an earth that was destroyed by invading alien Scavengers. Jack and Vicki are preparing to leave earth for Titan, a safe moon where the remaining humans have fled. Jack is plagued by nightmares and visions of his life before in New York. These nightmares hold the key to Jack's existence and the remainder of the plot.....but my lips are sealed. The cast also includes Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Melissa Leo and Zoë Bell.

Here's what the critics are saying:

The story probably doesn’t stand up to heavy scrutiny, and at times the effort by star and director shows....But at least the effort is there. The film is beautiful to look at. You can check off most of your go-to sci-fi elements here: a post-apocalyptic, dystopian future; aliens; memory wipes; outlying rebels; the aforementioned Tom Cruise. Some are used more effectively than others, including Cruise. The puzzlements will be explained by the end, but as is often the case, the fun is in the getting there. Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic 

Memories of earlier sci-fi dramas peek out of “Oblivion” like bits of New York jutting out of the futuristic rubble. From high on the shoulders of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Silent Running,” “Solaris,” “The Matrix” and others, director Joseph Kosinski’s movie surveys a hodgepodge of narrative worlds, and our mental circuits make the connections. Yet while fans of apocalyptic cinema may hope to add “Oblivion” to those ranks, Kosinski’s ultimately underwhelming film leads nowhere. As its palpable sense of dread — well-sustained in a gently cascading first hour — gives way to dead ends, this Omega Movie shoots itself in the foot. Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News

Stylishly directed by Tron: Legacy’s Joseph Kosinski, Oblivion is one of those easy-on-the-eyes post-apocalyptic sci-fi movies that lives or dies by its pretzel-logic plot. Sadly, what we have here is a stale pretzel. I would describe the movie as a mash-up of The Matrix, Blade Runner, and Planet of the Apes, but that makes it sound better than it is. Chris Nashawaty Entertainment Weekly 

But this remains the kind of film where viewers know Cruise is sad because he says, in voiceover, that he’s sad; they know he’s in love because he and his partner rotely announce it. And they know he’s driven because he keeps mechanically repeating a Thomas B. Macaulay poem about death while facing fearful odds. There’s a clinical remove to virtually every step in Oblivion that doesn’t get in the way of the pieces as they slot into place, but does make the story feel hollow. All it’s missing is Cruise proclaiming in a monotone, in the middle of the final battle, “This is very exciting.” Tasha Robinson, AV Club

What's interesting about it is its tight focus on a handful of characters. "Oblivion" is odder and less conventional than your average forgettable star vehicle; at times it feels like a five-character play taking place in a digital-effects lab. But there's not much energy to it. When you go to a futuristic, dystopian, post-apocalyptic barn dance starring Tom Cruise and his space guns, you expect a little zap with your thoughtful pauses. Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

"Oblivion" is rated PG-13 and runs 126 minutes.

It's playing at Studio Movie Grill in Duluth.

~ Athens Patch

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