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April 20th, 2013

Movie Review - Oblivion


Starring: Tom Cruise, Andrea Riseborough, Olga Kurylenko, Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and more.

Directed by: Joseph Kosinski Screenplay by: Joseph Kosinski, Karl Gajdusek, and Michael Arndt Based on the Comic Books by: Joseph Kosinski and Arvid Nelson Cinematography by: Claudio Miranda Original Music by: Anthony Gonzales, Joseph Trapanese, and M.8.3

Premise: Earth won a war against an alien race, but in doing so spoiled most of the planet. Humanity has no choice but to migrate to Titan. Yet in order to do so, the water of Earth  must be collected and turned into fuel. Safeguarding the suction machines from the remnants of the alien force are automated robotic guards. Jack Harper and teammate remain behind on Earth to make sure the robots keep functioning properly to defend the larger machines. But the attacks of sabotage by the Scavs seem to be getting more inventive. If only the weird dreams wouldn't keep plaguing Jack, he'd be better able to deal with these threats. (Rated PG-13)


1) Acting -  Total Thumbs Up: Tom Cruise gave a great performance as the curious Jack Harper. Andrea Riseborough brought a lot more into the film than is first apparent, giving greater depth to the truth's later revealed. Olga Kurylenko added her own sublime touches to the story as well. Morgan Freeman was his usual wonderful self.

2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: The special effects start from the moment the screen goes dark. When the Universal Logo starts, make sure to look closely. You'll see the orbital Tet and then the Earth itself transform into what it is in 2077. Made for a nice little touch.

The different vehicles in the film were a lot of fun. Jack's flyer is totally cool. The guardian robots were intimidating and fun to watch. They even seemed to have a little bit of a personality, intentional or not. I loved the scanner sequences. They did a lot of nice work with HUD displays and computer tops.

Some cool laser battles and explosions were spread around during the film. Nice stuff! And wait till you see the pool!

3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: Jack gets the audience 'up to speed' with a quick summary of how the Earth got to the state it is presently in. Then he mentions the fact he's been routinely mind wiped - a great trigger for letting the audience know things are possibly not what they seem. The repetition of certain phrases and actions hold more meaning than those doing them at times comprehend. Keep an eye on the character of Victoria - at a couple of spots her expressions tell whole stories on their own. Plus it is through and from her that little hints get dropped that all is not what we might think.

Overall, the story was solid. Several surprises show up twisting the story in directions that won't be expected. The science took a couple of hits towards the end of the film, however, as the typical Hollywood ploy of 'destroy the one big thing and it will make all others stop functioning' gets used, despite the actions and facts negating the feasibility of such a course actually stopping the action going on down at the ground. Still, that and the fact the ship wasn't scanned (or if it was, that it didn't pick up the energy signatures of the energy cores), only took away a little of the otherwise quite satisfying film. (Though  - if they'd shown the fighters try to shield the cores in some way, it would have totally fixed the issue.)

There are several bits of homage to older SF films in the movie, but also several to Tom's first big film"Top Gun." (Hint: The flyer has the first one.)

4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: Fun action sequences and stunts during the exploration of, and the combat at, the New York Public Library. The massive battle at the hidden base was also good.

Better still was the hand to hand fight in the radiation zone. Tom really does make combat look easy. The one point that impressed me the most on this sequence was the attention to detail on the angles. The moment the gun went off, the poised bodies tell you exactly where the shot went, even though it will be almost a full minute before they actually show it. (Not so exciting was the fact they used this old movie cliche, but at least they pulled it off well.)

5) Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: Great use by Claudio Miranda of overhead sweeping shots. It  brought home the isolation of the task Harper and his teammate lived under, while also showing some truly gorgeous benefits of living there as well. It also was a great way to show the audience the huge amount of devastation the planet had suffered and how the events of over fifty years ago changed the face of New York. When Harper rides the motorcycle through the desert of beached ships, it was eerie and fascinating all at once. Seeing well know NY icons as they stand in 2077, made it even more disturbing.

6) Costuming/Makeup - Total Thumbs Up: The costuming and makeup departments did a lot of subtle things that really ramped up the overall feelings and impressions. There was the duality of opposite extremes created purely from the different states we found Jack and Victoria in. Jack toiled, he sweated, got hurt, became dirty. Victoria on the other hand usually looked fresh, rested, composed inside and out, even when being ignored or bypassed by Sally. This was defined even more when we get to compare the contrast between where Jack and Victoria live together to the little hide away Jack has made for himself on the ground.

Conclusion: "Oblivion" is a good science fiction film, actually bringing forth what SF does best. The few faux pas in the science toward the end are not too hard to ignore and don't take away from the enjoyment and the great plot twsists. Keep an eye on Victoria - her side of things will add a lot of meaning and depth to things revealed later. Make sure to pay attention when the Universal logo starts!

Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic



(2015) Fantasy

The King is Dead! Long Live the Undead King!

"What are you implying?"

The magister glided forward and scrunched down beside him.

"That in order to bathe, you must first actually get into the bath."


(2014) Urban Fantasy

It took everything from her, except revenge!

The muscles in my right arm jerked from tension as I tried to make it move and it resisted. A shrill scream inside my head insisted I didn't want to do this. That if I did, there'd be no way to take it back. "I...I'm afraid."


(2011) Young Adult – Fantasy

Which is worse…the monster without or within?


Home—family—the two things he would never have, the two things forever denied him…because of her.

Anger welled inside him, the heat of it suffusing him to the core, gurgling with seething emotions the total opposite of the coolness splashing down from the fountain nearby. Before he realized what he was doing, Jarrin stepped inside the gazebo.

(2007) Young Adult – Fantasy
“Harry Potter meets Dragon Riders of Pern”


“Do you need any help?” she asked. “Just tell me what you want me to do. If you prefer, I’m sure I can round up at least a few people to come over and give you a hand.”

Kel slowly shook his head. “It’s all right. Thanks anyway.” His voice lowered to where she almost couldn’t hear it. “This is all part of my punishment.’

She frowned, not understanding what he meant. “Punishment?”

Kel cocked his head in Clarence’s direction. In a flash, she understood. None of this was an accident. Clarence had landed there deliberately, hoping to make Kel pay for all he went through in the past month. She shook her head, not wanting to believe this, but what the dragon said next took any doubts right out of her head.

(2008) Young Adult – Fantasy
“To save the world she must DIE! Or must she?”


Panic and fear filled with utter helplessness made her dizzy. She knew what would be done with her, she knew what they planned. But there was nothing she could do to stop any of it.

Sharp gasps echoed in her ears as she felt the room’s cold air caress the Eye.

“You were right. She is the one.”

(2002) Adult/YA – Japanese Fantasy Adventure
“The Last Samurai meets Pirates of the Caribbean”


Laying the blade on the floor before him, Toshi parted his kimono until his stomach lay exposed. He tucked his sleeves beneath his legs to hold him upright if he should falter. Ignoring Asano, he took up the blade. His shoulder flared with pain and he tried not to flinch, as he grabbed the blade with both hands. He turned the wakizashi until its sharp point was aimed at his belly, the residence of his soul.

(2004) Adult/YA – Fantasy Mystery
“He tried to forget his past, but his past wouldn’t forget him”


Torren took a step back a sudden shudder racking through him. It was as if he’d never left, as if the boy he’d been would be coming back-though the one who’d loved this room and all these things was long, long dead. That boy died when he’d watched his father’s blood pour forth from his mouth, the end of a sword protruding from his abdomen. That boy died when he survived while everyone else lay dead.

Info, sample chapters, and free reads at www.gloriaoliver.com

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