Oblivion – 126 Min – PG-13
by C. L. Cadwallader
Tom Cruise gets a bad rap with a lot of people. “Tom Cruise Crazy” anyone? Is it the Scientology? The couch-hopping? Breaking Nicole Kidman’s heart? (She seems to have come out on the top side of that deal.)I don’t know. What I do know is that he seriously brought his ‘A Game’ to this movie. Oblivion is beautifully shot, well-acted and exciting. It gets a green light from me.
The movie opens on a near-future Earth ravaged by an alien invasion. Jack Harper (Cruise) is a drone repairman, one of the last humans remaining on the planet. He lives with his partner/lover, Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) on a kind of floating station. Together they keep the machines harvesting the last of Earth’s resources while they wait to join the rest of humanity on Saturn’s moon Titan.
I’m going to stop there with the summary and talk instead about the trailers for Oblivion. For months leading up to this movie, I watched the trailers, growing increasingly intrigued. Cruise’s voiceover tells us that humanity won the war, but lost the planet. He pretends to play a little football in a ruined stadium. Morgan Freeman’s voice says everything we believe is a lie. Flash! Bang! Action! Something kills some humans and Tom Cruise doesn’t like it. What do we know from this trailer? We know Tom Cruise is some kind of hot shot pilot who like sports and might be a bit of a goof-off, probably not too concerned with the rules. Morgan Freeman is a mysterious stranger who may or may not be on his side. We suspect there’s something going on beneath the surface.
What is it? Who are the good guys really? What’s the deal with Jack and Victoria?
We don’t know. That’s the key here. Now, I will admit, I do like a good Tom Cruise movie (Top Gun, MI:Ghost Protocal, The Last Samurai, Jerry Maguire, etc.). I’m also a sucker for flashy sci-fi movies, so I would probably have seen this movie anyway, but the trailers sealed it for me. The premise was intriguing; it had Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman, and I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT. The trailers gave me just enough information without giving away ANY of the secrets. I enjoyed following along with Jack Harper as he learned the things that had been hidden from him. At each step, I was asking questions, and eagerly awaiting the answers. I felt satisfied at every point through the film. I wasn’t left hanging with questions for too long, nor were the answers too easily provided. The trailer did exactly what a trailer is supposed to do. It made me want to see the movie.
I think this is important to point out because so many trailers have turned into a mini summary of the movie. The recent RomZomCom Warm Bodies comes to mind. The trailers for that movie told me at least 80% of the entire plot. Sure, the details are what makes the film, but if I want a recap, I’ll read Wikipedia. The trailer should raise questions, but never answer them. The trailers for Oblivion do that, and even if the movie hadn’t lived up to expectations, I would applaud the producers for their good work getting me there based on the trailer.