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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

1. World War Z (Paramount)

2. Iron Man 3 (Disney)

3. Now You See Me (Summit)

4. Epic (20th Century Fox)

5. Redemption (Lionsgate)

6. Pain and Gain (Paramount)

7. Star Trek Into Darkness (Paramount)

8. The Great Gatsby (Warner Bros.)

9. The Bling Ring (Lionsgate)

10. Oblivion (Universal)

Published in Video Top 10

1. World War Z (Paramount)

2. Now You See Me (Summit)

3. Pain and Gain (Paramount)

4. Star Trek Into Darkness (Paramount)

5. The Great Gatsby (Warner Bros.)

6. Epic (20th Century Fox)

7. Empire State (Lionsgate)

8. Oblivion (Universal)

9. The Bling Ring (Lionsgate)

10. Disconnect (Lionsgate)

Published in Video Top 10

1. Star Trek Into Darkness (Paramount)

2. Now You See Me (Summit)

3. Pain and Gain (Paramount)

4. The Great Gatsby* (Warner Bros.)

5. The Big Wedding (Lionsgate)

6. Oblivion (Universal)

7. Empire State (Lionsgate)

8. Tyler Perry Presents Peeples (Lionsgate)

9. Epic (20th Century Fox)

10. The Iceman (Millennium)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

1. Pain and Gain (Paramount)

2. Olympus Has Fallen (Sony)

3. Epic* (20th Century Fox)

4. The Great Gatsby* (Warner Bros.)

5. Oblivion (Universal)

6. Killing Season (Millennium)

7. G.I. Joe: Retaliation (Paramount)

8. Scary Movie 5 (Weinstein)

9. Mud (Lionsgate)

10. Pawn Shop Chronicles (Starz/Anchor Bay)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

1. Olympus Has Fallen (Sony)

2. Oblivion* (Universal)

3. Epic* (20th Century Fox)

4. Killing Season (Millennium)

5. Scary Movie 5 (Weinstein)

6. G.I. Joe: Retaliation (Paramount)

7. The Big Wedding (Lionsgate)

8. Mud (Lionsgate)

9. The Place Beyond the Pines* (Universal)

10. Escape From Planet Earth (Starz/Anchor Bay)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

1. Oblivion* (Universal)

2. Olympus Has Fallen (Sony)

3. The Place Beyond the Pines* (Universal)

4. G.I. Joe: Retaliation (Paramount)

5. The Big Wedding (Lionsgate)

6. 42: The Jackie Robinson Story (Warner Bros.)

7. Mud (Lionsgate)

8. Snitch (Summit)

9. The Company You Keep (Sony)

10. Dead Man Down (Sony)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

1. Oblivion* (Universal)

2. The Place Beyond the Pines* (Universal)

3. G.I. Joe: Retaliation (Paramount)

4. Mud (Lionsgate)

5. 42: The Jackie Robinson Story (Warner Bros.)

6. The Call (Sony)

7. Snitch (Summit)

8. Dead Man Down (Sony)

9. Black Rock (Lionsgate)

10. To the Wonder (Magnolia)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

Editor’s note: This is the debut of a new column, Bill Frost’s “True TV,” aka The Only TV Column That Matters™. Most weeks, he’ll offer his opinions on what shows you should not miss during the upcoming week—and which shows you should skip in favor of a book. (However, this week, he’s doing a summer-roundup thing. Hey, it’s almost August. It’s slow.)

He’ll also offer a weekly roundup of newly released DVDs, to complement Bob Grimm’s regular DVD/home-video reviews. So … here we go. Enjoy!

The 10 summer shows you should be keeping/catching up on:

Under the Dome

Mondays (CBS): One of the best Stephen King adaptations to date—and they even worked in a reference to The Simpsons Movie. Under the Dome has shown a few signs of padding the story to fill 13 episodes (teen romance—phttt, who needs it?), but the tension ratchets up just enough every week to keep the hooks in. (Almost) all is forgiven, Rachelle Lefevre.

Orange Is the New Black

Streaming (Netflix): Like Netflix’s previous Big Event, Arrested Development, prison dramedy Orange Is the New Black gets better with each episode, rolling out surprising back-stories for the characters surrounding “yuppie white girl” inmate Piper (a fantastic Taylor Schilling). Anyone who thought showrunner Jenji Kohan was a one-trick Weeds pony can suck it. (For an opposing view, check out Bob Grimm's review of the show.)

Ray Donovan

Sundays (Showtime): In contrast to his hilarious, almost-unrecognizable cameo in Larry David’s upcoming HBO movie Clear History, Ray Donovan is Liev Schreiber’s defining Intense Mofo role. Hollywood “fixer” Ray has more issues than Variety, and his family (including an equally intense Jon Voight) is a nightmare—which, of course, makes for great TV.

Wilfred

Thursdays (FX): If you gave up on Wilfred during last year’s weird ’n’ dark Season 2, don’t bother coming back—it’s still weird ’n’ dark. Ryan (Elijah Wood) is more convinced than ever that he’s crazy, and it’s less clear than ever whether his talking-dog frenemy Wilfred (Jason Gann) is there to pull him back from, or push him over, the edge. Hence, funny!

The Bridge

Wednesdays (FX): After a rote pilot episode with a The Killing aftertaste, Tex-Mex-border crime drama The Bridge slipped into a groove and started earning its FX keep. Stars Diane Kruger and Demian Bichir bring new twists to their odd-couple cop dynamic every week, and Annabeth Gish’s side-plot is finally making tense sense. Always trust in FX.

The Newsroom

Sundays (HBO): It took a season and change, but The Only TV Column That Matters™ is now convinced that Olivia Munn is worthy of her news-geek-dream-girl role of financial reporter Sloan Sabbith. If only the rest of The Newsroom women owned it like she does. On all other fronts, Aaron Sorkin’s liberal-media porn dramedy is sharper than ever.

Magic City

Fridays (Starz): Yeah, I get it—you’re never going to subscribe to Starz, so quit going on about shows like Spartacus, Boss and Magic City, right? Whatever. Like the first two, Magic City isn’t quite on par with the HBO and Showtime series it aspires to be, but as a period (1950s Miami) potboiler, it’s as gorgeous and addictive as anything on cable.

Camp

Wednesdays (NBC): One of the few shows in NBC’s throw-it-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks Summer of Filler campaign that actually works, Camp is a funny and sweet diversion that not only makes Rachel Griffiths (Six Feet Under) likable; it also also pulls off a decent Glee/Parenthood tone-meld with only a few glitches. (Teen romance—phttt, who needs it?)

Siberia

Mondays (NBC): NBC could have done better—hell, the network could have done any—rollout work on keeping Siberia’s secret (it’s a fake reality-survival show … clarification: more fake than usual), but it’s still stoopid fun watching to see who’s going to die next. (Bear Grylls, take note.) The biggest mystery: What was Carolina (Joyce Giraud) thinking wearing six feet of hair into the wilderness?

Nikki and Sara Live

Tuesdays (MTV): Sometimes MTV gets it right: Not only did they give comics/podcasters Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer their own show last year; they also picked it up for a second season—now shut up about the music videos already. Nikki and Sara Live is essentially a junior Daily Show for those who don’t want to look at old, gray hosts. (Sorry, Jon Stewart—come back soon.)


DVD-RELEASE ROUNDUP FOR AUG. 6!

Amelia’s 25th

On her 25th birthday, Amelia (Electra Avellan) realizes that she’s now too old to become a famous actress: “In Hollywood, 25 is the new dead.” Also starring Danny Trejo, Jennifer Tilly, Margaret Cho and other spry youngsters. (Breaking Glass)

The Best of Fridays

The cult 1980-1982 late-night sketch series, finally on DVD! Well, some of it. It features players Michael Richards and Larry David (with hair!); performances by Devo, The Clash and Kiss; and a fight with Andy Kaufman. (Shout! Factory)

Community: The Complete Fourth Season

The season without showrunner Dan Harmon—hey, it’s not that bad. There’s the sci-fi convention thing, the Halloween thing, the Thanksgiving thing, the Christmas thing, the puppet thing, the graduation thing … OK, it was pretty bad. (Sony)

Oblivion

When a memory-wiped drone repairman (Tom Cruise) on Future Eff’dup Earth rescues a mysterious-but-familiar woman (Olga Kurylenko) from a downed spacecraft … not much happens, but it looks really cool. That’s enough, right? (Universal)

Strike Back: Season 2

Cinemax’s live-action Team America returns for a second season with a new boss (Rhona Mitra), new bad guys (terrorists with nuclear triggers) and ridiculous new levels of violence, nudity, yelling and explosions. So, awesome TV. (HBO)

More New DVD Releases (Aug. 6)

The Borgias: The Third Season, Duck Dynasty: Season 3, Jim Norton: Please Be Offended, Magic Magic, Mud, My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, On the Road, The Place Beyond the Pines, The Sapphires, Smash: Season 2, To the Wonder, West of Memphis, Zombie Massacre.

Published in TV

Tom Cruise spends most of Oblivion in a goofy, impractical-looking leather space suit that clashes with his 2013 hairstyle and reminds of Captain EO.

Yes, it’s silly to notice these things, but Oblivion is the sort of film that causes one to notice such trivial matters, for the movie surrounding that goofy outfit is not that good.

Cruise, however, is in typically fine form as Jack, a scout/worker for the surviving human race, following a devastating alien attack 60 years before (in 2017). The remaining population of Earth has been sent to a moon of Saturn, and Jack’s job is to make sure Earth’s energy resources are properly mined. He lives in a stylish outpost with a hot partner (Andrea Riseborough), and their work is being monitored via video by Sally (Melissa Leo), an overly nice boss.

Jack is haunted by dreams of a past Earth world that he is too young to have experienced. In his dreams, he meets up with a woman (Olga Kurylenko) atop the Empire State Building, just like in Sleepless in Seattle. He’s found a cabin in the woods where he wears a Yankees cap and listens to Led Zeppelin. He seems very at home for a guy who supposedly never set foot on pre-invasion Earth.

Of course, there’s more to Jack’s universe than meets the eye. He eventually comes face-to-face with Beech (Morgan Freeman), a wise, old, cigar-smoking man (those cigars must be 60 years old and awful) who is going to turn Jack’s world upside down.

The movie has some significant twists and turns, and some of them are not at all surprising. However, one particular twist caught me off guard, and is pretty clever.

As for the action, it’s sub-par. I actually stumbled upon Cruise on Jimmy Kimmel’s show the other night before I saw the film. I turned it on during a clip showing Cruise in a funny-looking little spaceship, shooting a drone-type thing out of the sky with a pistol and crashing in the desert. I thought it was a gag, because it looked cheap. Turns out it was the movie’s major action-set piece.

While the Cruise performance is good, he does slip into that Tom Cruise-yelling mode, often reminding of his interrogation of Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men. Tom Cruise yelling is, sometimes, unintentionally funny.

Oblivion is derivative of many sci-fi films that came before it, including 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes, Total Recall, etc. A little bit of all of those movies and others can be found among the plot threads and visual effects.

As for those visual effects, they aren’t spectacular. I did like seeing the top of the Empire State Building protruding from grey Earth, the ground having risen to the famous landmark’s observatory deck. Otherwise, there are some weak CGI recreations of demolished landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty.

The film drags itself to its inevitable conclusion, providing no real surprises or excitement. The last scene involves something that is supposed to be triumphant, but is actually quite weird.

Joseph Kosinski directs; his only other directorial credit is TRON: Legacy. Oblivion is a marked improvement over that fiasco. As with TRON, Kosinski is far more preoccupied with visuals over substance. And in both cases, the visuals aren’t anything to get excited about.

Cruise is in a sci-fi state of mind these days. Up next is Doug Liman’s All You Need Is Kill, in which he plays a soldier caught in a time loop and repeatedly getting killed by aliens. (Cruise haters will probably get a kick out of seeing their nemesis getting repeatedly smoked.) Then it’s Yukikaze, based on yet another alien invasion scenario.

In his most recent three films, Tom Cruise has played similarly titled characters: Stacee Jaxx (Rock of Ages), Jack Reacher (Jack Reacher) and just plain Jack in this film. That’s another useless factoid I fixed on while being mildly bored by the ho-hum Oblivion.

Oblivion is playing in theaters across the valley.

Published in Reviews