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Tip of the Week

When Earth and Memories Are Shot to 'Oblivion'

Julie Samrick
Kid Focused 

It's the year 2077 and Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is a man whose memories have been erased just as the planet has been obliterated of all living things after a war 60 years before. Scavengers (or "Scavs") destroyed Earth's moon, sending the rest of mankind to live on Titan.  Harper is one of two humans left on Earth to perform drone maintenance in the hopes that any remaining resources may be salvaged.

Harper and his girlfriend, Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), are the "cleanup crew" before they're set to leave for Titan in a matter of days.  Victoria is ready to go, but Jack can't reconcile the flashbacks he has of life before the war.  His memories were erased, which leaves him hopeful there is still a chance he can stay. 

When a third human is found (Olga Kurylenko), their routine life is challenged, and a string of events set off a chain reaction, making the characters question everything they've ever known as truth.

The action, music, and visuals are the best parts of Oblivion. Parents will have flashbacks to Top Gun as Tom Cruise soars and plummets in a spacecraft for his missions, bringing to mind the flying tricks and intensity of the film that propelled him to action star status more than 25 years ago.

The exciting soundtrack adds to the thriller as well.

Visually, Oblivion is a stunner.  As all life has left Earth, its color has gone too. A good portion of it was filmed in Iceland, and it's easy to see why - the arctic tundra is the perfect setting for a bleak, post-apocalyptic America.

Older children will appreciate how the future is imagined.  Tom Cruise clings to small artifacts of America's past: books, records, a Yankees cap, etc. He is haunted by America in its glory days when he sees a dilapidated football stadium, a gutted New York City library, and the mere skeleton of the Empire State Building.

Themes to talk about with older children could include: What could the distant future look like and why? What might life be like after a nuclear war? What are the pros and cons to technology replacing humans? What is irony and how is it central to the movie?  What does "ignorance is bliss" mean?

There are certainly no giggles or laughs in this film - it's all seriousness. And the science-fiction plot is hard to follow.  Oblivion definitely seems longer than its two hour running time.

And for Morgan Freeman fans, sorry to disappoint, but he plays only a minor, supporting role.

Oblivion earns at least its PG-13 rating for language, guns, violence, loud noises, and one steamy sex scene.

Kid Focused Grades for Oblivion
Compelling story line - B-
Strong message - C
Leading character is a role model - C+
Sexual content - D (naked woman jumps into pool and pulls Cruise in, kissing)
Violence - C (guns, drones, loud explosions, etc.)
Suited for the whole family - D (only for older teens, and then only for sci-fi fans)
Overall Kid Focused Grade: C-/ D+
Oblivion, Rated PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
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Julie Samrick is a stay-at-home mom of four young kids and the founder of Kid Focused, a site devoted to children and family issues.  Subscribe to the free Kid Focused newsletter delivered weekly to your inbox and connect with us on Facebook too.  Permission granted for use on
Tags: 2013 Movies, Family, Internet-Media, Movie Review, Parenting, PG-13 Rating, Relatives, Stay-at-Home Mom, Technology
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