Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Oblivion Movie Poster Image
Stylized sci-fi entertains; expect deaths, sexy stuff.
  • PG-13
  • 2013
  • 126 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 11 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 39 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

Somewhat grim circumstances, but the movie highlights the way that humans manage to survive under the most difficult circumstances. Challenges people to listen to their instincts, to question following instructions and commands blindly, and to pay attention to their dreams. Also promotes the idea of taking care of the resources that we have -- and to not take them for granted.

Positive role models & representations

Jack is curious and questions the motives of mission control. He's willing to think beyond authoritative directives and do what's best for humanity, even though it's against his orders. He's willing to save someone even after he discovers that she's not who he thought she was. Victoria is dedicated to her work, but she's unwilling to second guess any of her instructions, and she allows jealousy to cloud her instincts. Julia is patient and courageous. Beech is self sacrificing.


The drones kill -- instantly incinerating anyone or anything they're programmed to terminate. Several characters die or are injured (including some major characters), but it's not a bloodbath like War of the Worlds. Explosions, hand-to-hand fights, and lots of danger/peril.


Jack is "assigned" to Victoria both romantically and professionally. They shower together, sleep together, kiss several times, and, in one scene, Victoria seduces Jack by undressing (she's shown nude from the back), jumping into a pool and suggestively inviting him to join her. They're shown kissing passionately (he with his shirt off, she naked, with back and legs visible) underwater. Later, another couple kisses; it's implied that they make love, but nothing is shown.


For most of the movie, language isn't very frequent (though what is heard includes "s--t," "damn," "hell," "goddamn," "oh my God," and "bitch"), but at the very end, there's one memorable use of "f--k."


Despite the future setting, there are references to the New York Yankees and bands/songs such as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Procol Harum's "Whiter Shade of Pale."

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Jack and Victoria drink with dinner. A character smokes a cigar.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Oblivion is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller that deals with the survival of humanity and a mysterious, violent alien threat. There are drones that kill instantly and turn their victims into ashes; several people die, including a few major characters. The language is pretty tame except for an occasional "s--t" and "damn" -- and one particularly memorable "f--k you." Sexuality includes a few passionate kisses and one seduction scene in which a woman is shown naked from the back. Oblivion is likely to appeal most to families with older teens who are either Tom Cruise fans or partial to futuristic action flicks.

User Reviews

Adult Written bywallyk2334 April 21, 2013

Best Sci-fi movie in years!!!

One of the best movies I've seen in years!! I took my 9 year old son with me and we both loved it. Violence really not an issue. If your kids can handle S... Continue reading
Adult Written bySummer_Days April 23, 2013

Slow-burner combines with popcorn entertainment

This is not just a a visually striking film. A compelling story entwines the sweeping background of devastated Earth, where a drone repairman has to deal with m... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 23, 2013

Oblivi-"eh"-n. Sorry for the bad pun.

It's all right. It tries to be complex, but really, it's just a lot of exposition and plot twists. There aren't really any subliminal messages or... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byJimmy Brew July 21, 2015

What's the story?

In the year 2077, humans no longer live on Earth but instead reside on Titan, Saturn's largest moon. Left behind are Jack (Tom Cruise) and Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), a clean-up crew of sorts who are tasked with repairing drones before they, too, can join the rest of the surviving population on Titan. But Jack's mission changes when he rescues NASA astronaut Julia (Olga Kurylenko) from her ship's crash. It's clear that Jack may not have the complete truth -- and that the alien "Scavengers" roaming the Earth may not be the threat that Jack and Victoria have been warned about. After meeting the head of the Scavs, Jack must decide whether he's going to follow the mission's assignment or to believe strangers he feels inexplicably compelled to trust.

Is it any good?

Director Joseph Kosinski does a better job with OBLIVION than he did with his debut film, Tron: Legacy, but it's clear he's a filmmaker whose strength is stylized, visually arresting storytelling. The cinematography is terrific, with sweeping landscapes of post-apocalyptic New York, and the action sequences are pulse-pounding thanks to Cruise's mastery of the genre. Cruise manages to have decent chemistry with not one but two women -- the prim rules-follower played by Riseborough and the enigmatic woman of Jack's dreams, Kurylenko. It takes an extraordinary leading man to pull that kind of emotional connection off, and Cruise is up to the task.

One of the best moments in Oblivion is when viewers first hear co-star Morgan Freeman's powerful voice before the lights turn on and his face is revealed. Few actors can exude Freeman's gravitas with such few words. Game of Thrones fans will also be pleased to see Nikolaj Coster-Waldau make an appearance. But in the end, this is a Cruise film all the way. How entertaining you consider the movie depends greatly on how good of an action star you consider him, because the third act does border on the overlong and unsatisfying. Still, despite its subpar story resolution, Oblivion is good enough to remember.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of post-apocalyptic stories. How does Oblivion compare to other alien movies like The Host or Prometheus?

  • How does the violence in the movie compare to other sci-fi/action movies you've seen? Does the fact that some of the combatants are aliens give it any more/less impact?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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