A Blue-Collar Sci-Fi Hero
Epic science-fiction stories generally concentrate on those in command, the captains and the soldiers who wear fancy uniforms, and embark on heroic and frequently dangerous missions. 'Oblivion' seems to paint Tom Cruise's character as more of a blue-collar worker, a glorified maintenance man who wears flannel when he's not on duty and doesn't go anywhere without his battered baseball cap. We can't help but be reminded of the crew in 'Alien,' grunts who weren't excited to be space travelers and just wanted a steady paycheck.
Your Favorite Cultural Landmarks In Ruin
Ever since 'Planet of the Apes' presented a ruined Statue of Liberty emerging from the beach, the ruins of our favorite buildings and monuments have been a staple of science-fiction filmmaking. We could ask questions like, "How are entire cities completely wiped off the face of the Earth but a handful of recognizable buildings still stand?" but we're willing to forgive the logic problem there simply because the results look too cool to argue with.
Tom Cruise vs... Morgan Freeman?!
Everyone loves Morgan Freeman. Kindly, wise Morgan Freeman, the grandfather/prison buddy that everyone wishes they had. Freeman has built such a strong career playing nice guys that it's always refreshing when he takes a jump over to the dark side. We don't know if his character in 'Oblivion' is an out-and-out villain, but it certainly looks like him and Tom Cruise have their fair share of intense confrontations. And speaking of not knowing...
There's a Mystery Here...
How refreshing is it that we don't know every single plot twist and story beat of 'Oblivion' from the trailers? Sure, we know the Earth has been devastated and that Tom Cruise discovers some kind of horrifying secret that may or may not have to do with Morgan Freeman, but the rest is a mystery. The trailers have given us just enough to get us interested while maintaining the sense of mystery. The people who cut spoiler-filled trailers could learn a thing or two from this, but so could J.J. "Mystery Box" Abrams.
Cool Spaceships and Weapony
If there's one thing director Joseph Kosinski can do, it's create and shoot incredible sci-fi hardware. (That's pretty much all his 'Tron: Legacy' has going for it.) If nothing else, 'Oblivion' is going to be a showcase for an incredible line-up of vehicles, weapons and robots. We certainly hope the story can back up the nifty tech, but sci-fi fans are suckers for futuristic vehicles, especially ones that seem to needlessly (but awesomely) twirl through the air as they fly.
All Kinds of Things That Go Boom
Although we hope that 'Oblivion' won't be short on smart sci-fi ideas, it has to justify that $100 million plus budget somehow. Thankfully, there's nothing too wrong with robot-induced explosions and aerial battles through canyons, especially when they're done with style.
Some Pretty Amazing Examples of "Cruise Face"
Tom Cruise has made his fair share of bad movies, but he himself has never phoned in a performance. Ever. Cruise has built his career on, 1) Being seemingly immortal, and 2) The Face seen in the image below, which, we're dubbing "Cruise Face." You know what we're talking about -- that patented Tom Cruise glare, mouth slightly open, eyes looking ready to burst from the intensity welling up in his very soul. It's the face that you can endlessly mock without loosing even an ounce of respect for it...and 'Oblivion' is going to be full of it.
Tom Cruise, Running Like You've Never Seen Him Run Before!
Aside from Cruise Face, one thing has defined Tom Cruise's career as a Hollywood superstar: he can run like no one else. Seriously. Find us a man with a more photogenic, powerful and cinematic run and we'll call you a liar because no one beats Cruise in this category. 'Oblivion' is going to offer Hollywood's greatest runner all kinds of new opportunities, including the chance to outrun robotic down fire and sprint across an apocalyptic desert. Tom Cruise Running Montage editors the world over are eagerly awaiting the chance to update their YouTube channel.
It's a Completely Original Story
One again: how amazing is it that 'Oblivion' isn't a sequel, a remake, a prequel, a reboot, based on toy, based on a video game, based on a book or based on a comic? Our reservations about Kosinski aside (have you watched 'Tron Legacy' recently?), we have to tip our hats at him: he actually got a major studio to pony up the cash for a completely original blockbuster.
The story goes it was originally going to live as a graphic novel through Radical Comics, but after it got picked up, Kosinski told MTV he never actually finished because he realized he wanted to see it on the big screen instead.
Of course, being a non-adaptation means 'Oblivion' is going to live or die depending on whether or not it's a satisfying experience since no one will have any kind of sentimental attachment to it (cough*'Transformers'*cough), but that's the way it should be. Even if the film doesn't work, we're so incredibly happy that it got made.
Have you been looking at the screenshots? Each of them could be your desktop background. We won't say something silly like, "Every frame could be framed and put on your wall!," but we will say that the imagery on display in the 'Oblivion' trailer is big and beautiful and haunting and showcases Kosinksi's natural ability to make a very, very pretty movie. If he can deliver on the story front this time around, he could be the real deal.
'Oblivion' opens on April 19. We'll be first in line.