1. What is it about?
Jack is taking care of a few last things on an Earth shattered after alien invasion. He repairs the drones that protect the water extraction facilities. The water will power the new colony on Titan. Two weeks before he is to turn out the lights and go to his new home, something happens which causes Jack to question everything he thought to be true.
2. Why PG-13?
This isn’t a film which revels in violence, but it doesn’t shy away from putting people in danger either. There is a little bit of spatter and one pretty intense firefight in which innocent and unarmed people are put in danger, including children. Also about twenty minutes in, there is one scene of sensuality, which includes a couple of shots of a female derriere. You can tell it’s coming when you see the candle on the dinner table. It depends on your kids, but I wouldn’t take my kids to see it until they had achieved double digits.
3. Will my kids like it?
If your kids like flying around in really cool ships and fighting drones, then probably yes. It has some great action sequences, but it isn’t a pure action flick by any means. There is a very long second act with plot twists and exposition that has some problems. It will probably bore the average kid. Although the well-filmed action scenes might make up for this weakness. (Like most of us Americans, it could stand to lose a few pounds in the middle.)
4. Will I like it?
If you’re a science fiction fan, maybe. First, it quotes a lot of other science fiction films, and not the best ones either. There were moments where I was reminded of some of the most ludicrous moments of Independence Day. It also has plot holes so large you could fly a Death Star through them. I counted two instances of the Endor problem. (A plot hole made all the more obvious by our recent brush with a small asteroid here on this planet.) There’s another big plot oops but it gives away too much. All I will say is—flight recorder.
All that said, I was surprisingly entertained. The first act is tight. It is a great world. The premise is smart. The technology looked beautiful and is really fun to watch in action. Plus, the director understood not to skimp on acting talent. The action scenes were filmed creatively and in such a way that I could follow what was taking place. Over all, the spectacle was good enough that I really had a good time and didn’t regret paying full fare for opening night. It was a solid film.
5. When is the best moment for a bathroom break?
Probably just after Jack stands in front of a drone to keep it from killing someone. From there, the responses and actions of the characters are pretty predictable for a long bit so whatever you miss you will be able to guess.
6. Does Morgan Freeman do anything other than lend his name?
Unfortunately, no. It is a pity to see such great acting talent basically used as a name to sell tickets. I am sure he made his money, but his talent wasn’t really on display. He just didn’t get to say anything meaningful, so there wasn’t anything for him to really chew on (other than a cigar).
7. Does this film have an agenda?
No. Tom Cruise isn’t preaching his religion here. For all the plot twists, this isn’t M. Night Shyamalan either. This is just a basic science fiction premise, sufficiently executed.
8. Will I want to see it again?
Probably on DVD. I would like to show it to my oldest daughter just for the world building, its premise, and its fun action sequences. But I am pretty sure this is one of those films I will enjoy less the second time than the first.
9. Will I be surprised by the plot twists?
Not if you keep your brain working. There are quite a few plot twists in any film about a man discovering what is true. However, it is one of the weaknesses of the film that any science fiction fan who has watched more than one or two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation will know almost exactly what is coming from about the time we first meet Freeman. From there on in, its surprises come across like your kids trying to sneak up on you—you can hear them coming from a long way off.
10. Am I getting set up for a sequel?
Nope. One of the things I enjoyed was the stand-alone nature of the film. All the threads are neatly wrapped up. There isn’t anywhere to go.