Tom Cruise in ‘Oblivion,’ Creative Sci-Fi Adults Will Appreciate

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680x478Tom Cruise went overboard praising Universal execs at the premiere for Joseph Kosinski’s “Oblivion” Wednesday night at Hollywood and Highland. “I’ve been doing this a few years now,” he told the Dolby Theater crowd. “Making films today, it takes a village, as artists it’s about problem solving.”

You need the studio behind you, is what he meant: They need Universal to do a good job selling this movie, which started to open April 10 around the world.

An unbranded movie is a risk for the studios–they hate going into this territory. But Universal picked this one up in turnaround from Disney, where video-game-pioneer-turned-filmmaker Kosinski owed them a post-“Tron: Legacy” picture.

“Oblivion,” which he has been developing from his own graphic novel for eight years, didn’t quite belong under the Disney label. While Kosinski still delivered a PG-13 film to Universal, this smart and twisty dystopian movie starring Cruise as maverick astronaut Jack Harper on a drone-fixing mission on post-apocalyptic planet earth has an adult edge–and that’s the audience segment most likely to appreciate the movie.

It’s a relief to see something that comes out of a filmmaker’s own head–even if it’s derivative as hell (references abound, from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Coma,” and “Planet of the Apes” to “Total Recall,”The English Patient” and “Wall-E”).

Speaking of Pixar, uncredited screenwriter Michael Arndt (“Toy Story 3”) was brought in, as he was on “Tron,” to do a script polish, and helped devise the opening narration and romantic arc of the story. Kosinski is a gifted visual filmmaker with a strong design aesthetic who managed to deliver this gleaming digital vision shot by “Life of Pi” Oscar-winner Claudio Miranda for only $125 million.

¬†There were just 800 VFX shots supervised by Digital Domain (as opposed to 1500 on “Tron,” he says), the fabulous spire of the buried empire State Building, for example, was shot in camera.Cruise effortlessly inhabits a persona that recalls many others, most notably “Top Gun,” “Mission: Impossible” and “Minority Report.”
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