Dec 10, 2012

Dueling Apocalyptic Trailers! Obvlivion vs After Earth

Every couple of years Hollywood churns out two very similar films that hit theaters at virtually the same time. Notable past match-ups include A Bug's Life vs. Antz, Capote vs. Infamous and, of course, Armageddon vs. Deep Impact.  When this happens there is almost always a clear winner and loser; one movie makes piles of money and/or is fondly remembered for years, while the other is forgotten almost instantly.

Next summer we'll get Oblivion and After Earth, both of which center on men (Tom Cruise and Will Smith, respectively) who return to Earth long after it has been abandoned by humanity.  While their release dates are almost two months apart, both trailers were released within 48 hours, so they're practically begging to be compared and contrasted.

First up is Oblivion from writer/director Joseph Kosinski, aka the man responsible for Tron: Legacy.  While that sequel was massively disappointing, you have to admit that it's visually stunning.  Oblivion looks to be all that and then some, plus I'm curious to see what he can do with a palate that involves more than four colors. Aside from the fact that the plot seems to have an interesting conspiracy element, I prefer the setting of a world only a few hundred years after the global cataclysm, with the echos of humanity still present.  As opposed to...

...After Earth, set 1000 years after mankind has left town.  Here we have real life father and son Will and Jaden Smith playing a father and son team who crash on a savage Earth filled with wild animals and plant life.    As Smith the elder (seen here sporting a bizarre sort of half-accent) is injured in the crash, Smith the younger is left to venture into the wild world and protect the two while trying to get them airborne once again.  The mastermind here is M. Night Shyamalan, who hasn't made a decent movie in over a decade now.  It's been lots of fun watching Twitter folks guess as to what ridiculous sort of twist ending the movie is sure to have, with most surmising that it'll turn out they were on a pre-historic Earth the whole time.  I really hope that doesn't turn out to be true, especially in a movie called AFTER EARTH.

I'm not totally sold on either of these projects.  There's no arguing with the riveting screen presence of both Cruise and Smith, but both filmmakers have track records that are more than a little spotty; while they can each shoot the hell out of a movie, at the end of the day a film is only as good as its story.  Fortunately each has some serious scripting talent on board to counterbalance their uneven directors.  Oblivion boasts a screenplay co-written by William Monahan, who gave us the incredible script for The Departed while After Earth lists Stephen Gaghan of Traffic and Syriana fame.

We'll see how it all plays out.  While they could both prove to be disappointments, my money is on Oblivion as at least being the more interesting of the two.  At the end of the day, at least we're getting more original sci-fi movies in theaters, which is always something to celebrate.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this. I was waiting to see what you thought of them.