Early footage from Joseph Kosinski's Oblivion blows away CinemaCon

Early footage was screened by Universal at CinemaCon for Joseph Kosinski's OBLIVION, starring Tom Cruise. Reports are that the footage is so raw that it actually consisted of a combination of early concept art, rough animation, and unfinished dailies.

Why show footage this early? According to Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson, “It’s very rare when you feel equally excited about the words in a script and the visuals from a director, but Oblivion offers that combination. It’s one of the most beautiful scripts we’ve ever come across.”

The basic plot is this: From TRON LEGACY director Joseph Kosinski and critically acclaimed comic creator Arvid Nelson comes an original sci-fi adventure of epic proportions. In a future where the Earth’s surface has been irradiated beyond recognition, the remnants of humanity live above the clouds, safe from the brutal alien Scavengers that stalk the ruins. But when surface drone repairman Jak discovers a mysterious woman in a crash-landed pod, it sets off an unstoppable chain of events that will force him to question everything he knows.

Entertainment Weekly broke down the footage shown at CinemaCon.  You can read it below, but if you are wary of spoilers be aware that it is very detailed.

The footage opens on a perfectly blue sky, and a series of glass and white steel platforms floating among the clouds. Picture The Jetsons by way of modernist architect Mies van der Rohe.

A small vehicle is perched on one of the platforms. It’s a kind of cross between a helicopter and a private plane. Inside is Cruise’s character: “This is Commander Jak Harper. Pre-routing electrical guidance and nav systems, all go.”

“Copy that, are you ready to go?” a computerized female voice asks.

Cruise’s character has a cocky look on his face. He’s done this a lot. “Oh, I’m ready to go.”

The copter-plane lifts off of the platform, but instead of rising, it plunges down through the clouds. Soon we see Cruise’s character gliding through a hole chopped into the roof of an old municipal building, what looks to be an early 20th century library, with lots of stone and wood and dusty chandeliers hanging in stark shafts of light.

Cruise is armed, and prowls through the library with his rifle drawn. We don’t know what it is he’s looking for, but he’s clearly expecting something hostile.

The comic book source material, co-written by the movie’s director — Tron: Legacy filmmaker Joseph Kosinski — can shed some light on what’s happening: “In a future where the Earth’s surface has been irradiated beyond recognition, the remnants of humanity live above the clouds, safe from the brutal alien Scavengers that stalk the ruins.” Jak (that’s not a misspelling) is a repairman, not a policeman. It’s just that one of his tools is a firearm, and his job is to look after the surface world on behalf of the 1-percent above.

Whatever he’s looking for, he finds it. Or it finds him.

There’s a small black device with a blinking light on it – some kind of trap. As soon as Cruise’s character sees it, he has time to whisper only “Oh s–t …” before a cable snares around his leg and yanks him across the room through a collapsing wall.

In the shadows are dozens of figures, and the light reveals one of them: Morgan Freeman, sporting round goggles. “I’ve been watching you, Jak,” he says.

That sounds awesome.  The graphic novel that Kosinski was originally going to turn this into never came to fruition.  But, from just that description alone, it sounds like it was destined for the big screen.

We are likely a long way away from seeing the footage ourselves.  OBLIVION, also starring Olga Kurylenko, Melissa Leo, and Nicolaj Coster-Waldau, opens April 26, 2013.



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