The "war" for geeks'
souls wallets between the science fiction and superhero genre continues in 2013, but can Oblivion - starring Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman and directed by Joseph Kosinski (TRON: Legacy) - score an important victory? It's releasing in slower-going April, on the heels of Cruise's well-received (but under-performing) Jack Reacher; that's to say, early signs don't point to a heavyweight contender.
However, Oblivion marketing does point to an intriguing (and original) piece of thought-provoking piece of sci-fi dressed up as a blockbuster. That includes a new 45-second TV preview and official image from Cruise's post-apocalyptic project.
TRON: Legacy boasts plenty of cinematic fireworks and big-budget spectacle, but the story also contains everything from a Creation allegory to metaphors about the changing technological and political landscapes of the 21st century (it's no wonder Legacy is criticized as muddled and plot-hole ridden on the surface). Oblivion is based on Kosinski's idea, but the hiring of Oscar-winner Michael Arndt (Star Wars: Episode VII) to refine the script - with another lauded writer in William Monahan (Sin City 2) having been approached to adapt the original (currently, unpublished) graphic novel material - suggests Kosinski has more in mind than just an excuse for Cruise to run around, fly spaceships and shoot aliens.
Here is the official synopsis for Oblivion:
Jack Harper (Cruise) is one of the last few drone repairmen stationed on Earth. Part of a massive operation to extract vital resources after decades of war with a terrifying threat known as the Scavs, Jack’s mission is nearly complete.
Living in and patrolling the breathtaking skies from thousands of feet above, his soaring existence is brought crashing down when he rescues a beautiful stranger from a downed spacecraft. Her arrival triggers a chain of events that forces him to question everything he knows and puts the fate of humanity in his hands.
Cast-wise, as mentioned before, Oblivion costars Morgan Freeman, along with a fellow Oscar-winner in Melissa Leo (The Fighter), Andrea Riseborough (W.E.), Olga Kurylenko (Seven Psychopaths) and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Mama). No surprise, though, Universal's marketing scheme revolves around Cruise, as evidenced by the new image of him dressed in futuristic duds (with an advanced flying vehicle at his disposal):
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Will Oblivion produce better results than Legacy, examining ideas about our shared cultural heritage (e.g. the emphasis on Jack's Yankees baseball cap) - and a story that alludes to real-world issues about ignoring past failures, on the false promise of ascending to a brighter world (here, literally) - in the context of a sci-fi tentpole release, packed with action and cutting-edge digital filmmaking? Kosinski is getting his second chance at batting as director, after an uneven start with Legacy; hopefully, more experience means an improved turnout.
Look for Oblivion in IMAX theaters on April 12th, 2013. It begins general release a week later.