Let's see, which famous science-fiction film does "Oblivion" most resemble? No, not "Minority Report," another big-budget Tom Cruise vehicle. That movie had imagination, energy, humor and at least a hint of thematic depth, none of which you'll find in "Oblivion." Keep trying, though, because playing spot-the-influence is the most fun you'll have during this expensive-looking, slow-moving plod through familiar territory.
All right, how about "2001: A Space Odyssey"? That's where the white-on-white color scheme comes from, and Cruise wears his tight-fitting spacesuit well as Jack Harper, a post-apocalyptic repairman who roams Earth fixing broken drones. Meanwhile, Morgan Freeman, playing a rebel chieftain, is clearly wearing Laurence Fishburne's circular sunglasses, but comparisons to "The Matrix" end there. What about "Total Recall," another movie whose protoganist suffers flashbacks despite a memory wipe? You're getting warmer.
The correct answer is "WALL-E," the 2008 animated film from Disney-Pixar. Who else is Harper but a sleek, human version of the creaky little robot? Abandoned on a blighted planet, Harper collects nostalgic detritus -- bobblehead dolls, a Yankees cap -- and keeps them in his makeshift bachelor pad. In this case, it's a lakeside cabin, not a shipping container, and he prefers Led Zeppelin to "Hello, Dolly!"
Granted, instead of a cockroach companion, Harper has a human wife, Victoria, played by an unexpectedly moving Andrea Riseborough, but his true love (Olga Kurylenko, "Quantum of Solace") will soon drop from the sky. And just like "WALL-E's" Eve, she will introduce our hero to a strange new world that, once glimpsed, must be destroyed.
"Oblivion" might have been mindless, laser-equipped fun if not for its sluggish pacing and self-
serious tone. The spherical drones Harper repairs are formidably fast foes, but they're among the few signs of life in the whole movie. Joseph Kosinski, directing and cowriting from his own graphic novel, is far more interested in nifty space gear (Harper's delicate whirly-glider is indeed a pretty sight) than in story or character. It's the same problem that plagued Kosinski's hollow debut, "TRON: Legacy," which, come to think of it, may be the sci-fi movie "Oblivion" resembles most.
PLOT In the future, a lone scout on an abandoned Earth makes a mysterious discovery.
RATING PG-13 (violence, brief nudity)
BOTTOM LINE Spiffy spacesuits and awesome fighter drones, but the drab characters and dreary pacing sink this sci-fi spectacle. It's Clunker No. 2 from the director of "TRON: Legacy."
Tom Cruise's top 10 grossing films
Will "Oblivion" make this list of Tom Cruise's highest- grossing films?
1. War of the Worlds (2005) -- $234,280,354
2. Mission: Impossible II (2000) -- $215,409,889
3. Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol (2011) -- $209,397,90
4. Mission: Impossible (1996) -- $180,981,856
5. Top Gun (1986) -- $179,800,60
6. Rain Man (1988) -- $172,825,435
7. The Firm (1993) -- $158,348,367
8. Jerry Maguire (1996) -- $153,952,592
9. Mission: Impossible III (2006) -- $134,029,801
10. Minority Report (2002) -- $132,072,926