The big news this week is Tom Cruise’s latest film, a post-apocalyptic adventure flick called Oblivion. The tear sheet from Universal reveals that Cruise plays Jack Harper, one of the few remaining drone techs who takes care of what’s left of the technology and resources on a sparsely inhabited and thoroughly trashed Earth.
He has fond memories of his home before the wars, as evidenced by his playing out scenes in the debris of humanity’s glorious past. While he’s out doing his job, he encounters a beautiful stranger and becomes privy to some intel that could mean he gets to save humanity.
The plot sounds a little familiar. A lone, possibly lonely guy stuck in a job wandering the outer edges of everything, mining for remaining resources, and along comes this chi- Oh yeah. I know where I’ve seen this before:
While Wall-e and Jack Harper may chew equal amounts of scenery, it’s hard to pass up Tom Cruise when he’s in action hero mode. Previews show Cruise turning the dial to eleven on the intense-o-meter for every scene. His teeth clenched to near-breaking and his eyes narrowed to blue-irised slits, he wields weapons, demands the truth, and seems to bounce from scene to scene like Disney’s Tigger as reimagined by Guillermo Del Toro.
Cruise in top form isn’t the only reason to see Oblivion. The scenery (most of which was lensed in the US and Iceland) is stunning. The more manmade aspects of the world might have been destroyed by war and the decay that followed, but the wilderness locations are alternately breathtaking and edenic. Thanks to the new 4k digital resolution and the sheer damned grandness of Imax, you can see this on a scale that will have you falling into director Joseph Kosinski’s glorious, gorgeous, grimmest of all possible worlds.
My advice: See it at a theater that offers the best and biggest technology and hunker down for some big, loud fun. (Rated PG-13 for violence and language.)
Also opening this Friday is Rob Zombie’s The Lords of Salem.As a director, Zombie is a bit like that art student everyone knew or knew about whose every project included religious goods and roadkill. At first, the ugliness and grue might be shocking, then you either never see another Zombie film or get past it if the story is sufficiently appealing. With Zombie, the latter is usually the case.
In The Lords of Salem, Heidi (played by the director’s progeny, Sheri Moon Zombie) is a DJ who has been given the gift of music via a mysterious parcel from “The Lords”. The previews show the usual fever dream aesthetic: crumbling, blighted backdrops for sadistic rituals and a comely lead lost to infatuation for her newfound religion. While there doesn’t seem to be as much of the director’s trademark black humor to counter the Suspiria-level camp, horror fans will find this latest entry into the Zombie oeuvre an enjoyable way to spend a Friday night.
My adice: See it if you love horror. If grand guignol and pain-level noise give you headaches, give this one a pass. (Rated R for every reason you can imagine.)