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'Oblivion' is familiar but solid sci-fi
Showtime with Sasha
Tom Cruise has a lonely job monitoring a destroyed Earth in "Oblivion." - photo by Studio photo

Tom Cruise is back on the big screen, following up his work in “War of the Worlds” and “Minority Report” by returning to science fiction with “Oblivion,” now in theaters.
Here’s the set up: During a brutal war between Earth and an invading alien race known as the Scavs in the year 2077, the moon was decimated. As a result, humans won the war but lost our planet. The breaking of the moon unleashed a series of catastrophic events that rendered Earth uninhabitable.
Somehow, we managed to colonize Titan, a moon of Saturn, and set up the Tet, a giant command post that hovers right outside Earth’s atmosphere. The Tet monitors Earth, which we still need in order to harvest seawater for energy.
Enter Jack Harper. He and his partner, Victoria, were left on Earth to monitor and maintain a small army of drones that patrol the scarred planet and combat those pesky remaining Scavs. Jack and Victoria have just two more weeks of work until they’re allowed to rejoin humanity on Titan. It’s something Victoria looks forward to, but Jack just can’t shake his sentimentality for Earth.
It doesn’t help that Jack is plagued by dreams in which he’s meeting a beautiful woman he doesn’t know at the pre-war Empire State building.
“Oblivion” easily reminded this reviewer of dozens of classic sci-fi films, including “The Terminator,” “Planet of the Apes,” “Total Recall,” “Cowboy Bebop,” “WALL-E,” “The Matrix,” “Star Wars” and especially the more recent offering, “Moon.” I didn’t necessarily see that as a weakness. You might disagree.
The twist in the film is easy enough to anticipate after you see the trailer. Jack believes there aren’t any humans left on the planet. So then what’s Morgan Freeman doing, hiding behind his cool glasses and smoking his stogie?
Don’t worry, you won’t hear any spoilers from me, though. I will say that a friend of mine thought the love story here was a bit heavy-handed. I disagree. Didn’t someone once say that every story is a love story? That especially is true in Hollywood. I mean, look how important the love story became in “The Matrix”.
I didn’t find the love element in “Oblivion” to be distracting because it’s central to the plot. It’s the reason Jack seeks and ultimately learns the truth about his world.
So, should you see “Oblivion”? If you love sci-fi, then yes, definitely. Even if you don’t love it, you have to see it to join the conversation, kind of like last year’s “Prometheus.”  But this one won’t turn your stomach.
My girl, Melissa Leo, who is fresh from “Olympus Has Fallen,” is in the cast, as is “Game of Thrones” star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and, of course, former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko.
I’m a fan.

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