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I may not have cared much for "TRON: Legacy," but my problems were primarily with the script. Joseph Kosinski's work as a director was meticulous and often quite beautiful, and I walked away curious to see what he could do with a different (and better) screenplay.
Maybe "Oblivion" is that screenplay. I certainly hope so after seeing the first trailer for the film. I always root for big-budget original science fiction, and I would love for this to be a smart action film that uses its impressive backdrop as a way to tell a story that really means something, a film that is more than just empty calories. The reason I fell in love with science-fiction in the first place is because of the way it can tell universal stories about who we are and where we're going and how we relate to each other and the world around us, but one step removed, which often makes even the most difficult message more palatable. It helps that two of the credited writers on the film are Michael Arndt, who is of course currently hard at work on "Star Wars: Episode VII," and Oscar-winner William Monahan. Not too shabby.
Tom Cruise is in the middle of a run of science-fiction films, and I love that he's using his big movie star clout to get this kind of material made right now. After this, we'll see "All You Need Is Kill" with Doug Liman directing, which sounds like a cross between "Starship Troopers" and "Groundhog Day." This looks a little more straightforward, with Cruise playing Jack Harper, a guy who basically serves as WALL-E, repairing machines on an Earth that has been abandoned by humanity because of a war with aliens. As you'll see in the trailer, though, Harper isn't the only person left on the planet. Not by a long shot.
Kosinski's eye certainly seems to be in full effect here, with some striking imagery and a very clean, very stark aesthetic design. It looks like there's a lot of action in the film, as well, both involving humans and aliens. I'm really curious to see how this compares to "After Earth," the film that M. Night Shyamalan is finishing up right now with Will Smith and his son Jaden starring. It looks like we're going to have a few films about life after mankind, and I'm guessing we'll see radically different approaches to the same basic concept.
You can also find the trailer in gorgeous high-resolution at Apple.com exclusively right now.
"Oblivion" opens April 12, 2013.