Well, this is now my favorite movie that uses the Empire State Building’s observation deck in pivotal scenes, because instead of stupid Meg Ryan crap, it has this:

And how can man die better
than facing fearful odds
for the ashes of his fathers
and the temples of his gods?

Which is clearly better.

So this is where I stop apologizing for Tom Cruise. I never wanted to in the first place, but people judge you for liking him. And, yeah, the movie had annoying Tom Cruise things: the Yankees ballcap, the flannel shirts, the motorbike, the baseball generally, the making Olga Kurylenko pretend to be four inches shorter than she is, the jutting jaw as moral certainty arrives. But whatever. The man makes good movies and he looks good doing it.

Sure, Oblivion had some downsides. The science was slightly dubious, but they just got it out of the way in the opening monologue so you could accept it and move on. Tom Cruise flies what is essentially a modified B-Wing, and it therefore kind of sucks. He also fixes a nuclear-powered machine with literal chewing gum. And apparently in a post-apocalyptic wasteland the desperate refugees have time to kit themselves out in cool steampunk cloaks. Whatever.

But. This movie–an alien invasion, post-nuclear-holocaust type movie–should have been entirely predictable, and it was not. I lost track of what was going on at least twice. I’ve seen a million of these movies and sort of figured I didn’t really need to pay attention. But I did, and not just to the plot. This movie looks stunning. The nukes and the war have made seas rise and earth move, and the canyons of the New York City avenues are now truly canyons. It is a very different kind of love letter to New York than was Inside Llewyn Davis, but in its own way I think it perhaps does better. The ruined reading room of the main branch of the Public Library serves as the backdrop for a battle. It is still beautiful. Outside Manhattan, a devastated Pentagon is covered in moss, and the Brooklyn Bridge is buried to halfway up the iconic arches. Plus, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.

I’m not sure I can say much more without giving away important points, so I’ll move on to the stray observations.

  • Morgan Freeman is drastically less wasted than usual, and I think this is a much less annoying movie than Lucy will be, so hooray!
  • Does anyone else dislike Andrea Riseborough automatically, or is that just because I saw her first on “Party Animals,” and she was just so deeply hateful?
  • Yes, of course there is a mostly-buried Statue of Liberty. This movie isn’t crazy.

Director: Joseph Kosinski
Rating: PG-13, for pretty standard sci-fi shoot-’em-ups
Length: a sliiiightly too long 124 minutes
Score: 4/5. Not even sorry. And I might have given Edge of Tomorrow 5/5 if I’d had this blog at the time, so come at me, bro.

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