“Oblivion” — In this sleek, post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller from “Tron: Legacy” director Joseph Kosinski, Tom Cruise plays a flyboy repairman living a removed, Jetsons-like existence above an invaded and deserted Earth. From a sparse dock where he lives with his supervisor and girlfriend, Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), Jack makes daily flights in his spacecraft to the Earth’s barren surface. “We’re the mop-up crew,” he says. (Cruise as WALL-E.) He tells us that it’s been 60 years since aliens invaded, first knocking out the moon and then leading to a devastating nuclear war. Though humans, he says, won out, they had to abandon the planet’s surface (New York is buried up to the Empire State Building’s needle), taking refuge on a moon of Saturn. On a desolate Earth, the only beings remaining are hiding bands of Scavengers (“Scavs”) that look something like a cross between the Tusken Raiders of “Star Wars” and Milli Vanilli. Monitoring the land are white, round drones that appear like floating cue balls from afar, but menacing robot killers up close. We’ve seen many of the elements here in countless science fiction tales before, but we’ve seldom seen them more beautifully rendered. The film declines — as so many sci-fi films do — as the puzzles are solved. But for those who enjoy the simple thrill of handsomely stylized image-making, the movie is mostly mesmerizing. With Morgan Freeman as a rebel leader in a cape. PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, brief strong language, and some sensuality. 124 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.
— Jake Coyle, AP Entertainment Writer.