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'Oblivion' finds some substance

2013 certainly is shaping up to be a year for science fiction movies. "Oblivion," starring Tom Cruise, has the honor of being in the vanguard of both the year's science fiction lineup and the fast approaching summer movie season.

"Oblivion" is a post-apocalyptic story set on what remains of Earth after an alien invasion. As with any good science fiction movie, there are some interesting concepts to chew on. However, as with most science fiction movies, there are also some well-worn cinematic tropes that add to the overall flavor -- but definitely leave a poor aftertaste. Some of the plot points in particular were fun to watch but made little or no sense after the story was complete.

Cruise and the rest of the cast deliver strong, if somewhat tame, performances. That said, the real heart of the story is the design of the board and the pieces and watching the play-by-play action of the game unfolding. There are a lot of plays that probably should have gone in different directions but, at the time, it was entertaining to watch.

The plot has some core themes of solitude and repetition. Unfortunately, trying to convey those ideas is always something of a Hail Mary. Conveying concepts of what it means to be lonely and wanting more from your life is a dangerous line to walk because it is very easy to step too far and actually start boring an audience. I was never bored but did note a significant decrease in the apparent rate of time passing.

"Oblivion" is a quality science fiction movie that largely accomplishes what it sets out to. This is one of those films that makes me wish I gave half stars. Since that is not the case, I do feel justified in rounding up given the film's production value, ambition and overall execution.

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James Gerstner works at the Fort Hays State University Foundation and is the founder and editor of Six Horizons Media at sixhorizons.com. Contact James at james@sixhorizons.com, @sixhorizons on Twitter, Facebook.com/sixhorizons.