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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Oblivion

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Olga Kurylenko and Tom Cruise star in a scene from the movie "Oblivion."
Large-scale landscapes and shiny gadgets make for arresting visuals in the science fiction epic "Oblivion" (Universal). But director Joseph Kosinski's emotionally shallow adaptation of his own graphic novel is further undermined by logical lapses and some dubious philosophizing.

While mature moviegoers may shrug off the amateur metaphysics of Karl Gajdusek's script easily enough, taken together with its ethical complexities -- difficult to probe for fear of spoilers -- they make this convoluted dystopian drama wholly unsuitable for young or impressionable viewers.

Protagonist Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) does his best to fill us in: It's 2077; 60 years ago invading aliens known as Scavengers shattered the moon and almost conquered Earth. Though they failed, the consequences of lunar fragmentation and worldwide combat made global warming seem like meteorological chump change. Fortunately, humanity managed to find itself a new home on Saturn's moon Titan.

So what's Jack, a trained technician, doing back on the home planet? Along with a navigator named Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), Jack has been dispatched to tend machinery that allows the folks on Titan to continue harvesting Earth's natural resources, especially water. A romantic as well as professional pair, Jack and Victoria lead a cozy, placid life under the watchful guidance of mission control.

All of that begins to change with the unexpected arrival of Julia (Olga Kurylenko), an astronaut from the days before the intergalactic war. Her crash landing draws an unexpected and troubling response from Jack's superiors.

Jack's peace of mind is further disturbed by his encounter with a group of guerilla freedom fighters. Beech (Morgan Freeman), their chief, challenges the inquisitive repairman to test the version of history mission control has long been feeding him.

The far end of Jack's journey of discovery offers audiences some self-sacrificing heroics and a resolution that sees pride-based blasphemy receive its comeuppance. Yet potentially troubling questions about the relationship of physical and spiritual identity also are thrown into the mix. And the revelation of Julia's true role makes Jack's initial domestic situation retrospectively problematic.

Well-grounded audience members may succeed in winnowing through all these elements. But they may also wind up asking themselves whether the material at hand justifies so much prudential effort.

The film contains an objectively immoral living arrangement, a scene of sensuality with shadowy rear and partial nudity, a couple of uses of profanity, at least one rough term and a smattering of crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Apollonia: The persecution of Christians began in Alexandria during the reign of the Emperor Philip. The first victim of the pagan mob was an old man named Metrius, who was tortured and then stoned to death. The second person who refused to worship their false idols was a Christian woman named Quinta. Her words infuriated the mob and she was scourged and stoned. 
<p>While most of the Christians were fleeing the city, abandoning all their worldly possessions, an old deaconess, Apollonia, was seized. The crowds beat her, knocking out all of her teeth. Then they lit a large fire and threatened to throw her in it if she did not curse her God. She begged them to wait a moment, acting as if she was considering their requests. Instead, she jumped willingly into the flames and so suffered martyrdom.</p><p>There were many churches and altars dedicated to her. Apollonia is the patroness of dentists, and people suffering from toothache and other dental diseases often ask her intercession. She is pictured with a pair of pincers holding a tooth or with a golden tooth suspended from her necklace. St. Augustine explained her voluntary martyrdom as a special inspiration of the Holy Spirit, since no one is allowed to cause his or her own death.</p> American Catholic Blog We can find Christ among the despised, voiceless, and forgotten of the world. We have to move beyond that which we wish to ignore and forget about: embrace the seemingly un-embraceable, love the unlovable, and dare to know what we most fear and wish to leave unknowable.

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