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Movie review: 'Oblivion'

“Oblivion” is a lavishly wrapped package that contains only tatty, shopworn goods.
BY DENNIS KING Modified: April 18, 2013 at 12:30 am •  Published: April 19, 2013

First, Harper happens upon a wrecked spacecraft containing several hibernating humans, and manages to bring back the sole survivor. She's Julia (Olga Kurylenko, recently seen in “To the Wonder”), and as it turns out she just happens to be Harper's long-lost former wife. Then, Harper and Julia are kidnapped by the rebel Scavs, who are commanded by the brainy Morgan Freeman and the hotheaded Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and that leads to an unlikely series of twists, turns and betrayals that seem stale and contrived at best and that defy all logic at worst.

Not surprisingly, the screenplay by Kosinski and Karl Gajdusek and a couple of other writers is based on an unpublished comic book, and that's part of the problem. The story feels half thought-out, like a bunch of guys brainstorming cool ideas without any truly unifying narrative.

It helps that Kosinski has a first-rate cast that elevates even the most sophomoric writing and that Cruise, though aging, is still cruising along at the top of his game with his cocky, movie-star mojo.

And it helps that Kosinski is a visual artist par excellence. His movie looks devastatingly exquisite. But he lavishes so much attention on surface, texture, fashion and architecture that he forgets to attend to the essential details of storytelling. “Oblivion” is a lavishly wrapped package that contains only tatty, shopworn goods.

— Dennis King