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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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Columban: Columban was the greatest of the Irish missionaries who worked on the European continent. As a young man who was greatly tormented by temptations of the flesh, he sought the advice of a religious woman who had lived a hermit’s life for years. He saw in her answer a call to leave the world. He went first to a monk on an island in Lough Erne, then to the great monastic seat of learning at Bangor. 
<p>After many years of seclusion and prayer, he traveled to Gaul (modern-day France) with 12 companion missionaries. They won wide respect for the rigor of their discipline, their preaching, and their commitment to charity and religious life in a time characterized by clerical laxity and civil strife. Columban established several monasteries in Europe which became centers of religion and culture. </p><p>Like all saints, he met opposition. Ultimately he had to appeal to the pope against complaints of Frankish bishops, for vindication of his orthodoxy and approval of Irish customs. He reproved the king for his licentious life, insisting that he marry. Since this threatened the power of the queen mother, Columban was deported to Ireland. His ship ran aground in a storm, and he continued his work in Europe, ultimately arriving in Italy, where he found favor with the king of the Lombards. In his last years he established the famous monastery of Bobbio, where he died. His writings include a treatise on penance and against Arianism, sermons, poetry and his monastic rule.</p> American Catholic Blog Jesus was never a careerist or a glory-monger; he did not demand to be hailed as a king or lauded as a hero. He came to live among us, to suffer with us, and to serve us from the heart. He came to teach us how to love.

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