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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Oblivion

By
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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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog To replace our sins with virtues may seem like a daunting task, but fortunately we can follow the example of the saints who have 
successfully defeated these sins in their lifetimes. They provide us with a way forward so that we, too, can live holy, virtuous lives.

 
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