The first trailer for Joseph Kosinski's futuristic adventure movie Oblivion sneaked out a day early, thanks to a snafu in the UIP Columbia PR and marketing office.
That will explain the subtitles on the following screen captures as we go, step by step, and look at what appears to be going on.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.
The composition of this first shot is quite similar to others we'll see later - there's something like a proscenium arch. Oblivion is going to be released on IMAX, a format that is often hyped as destroying the proscenium, one of the last formal connections between cinema and theatre, but it seems like Kosinski isn't yet ready to give it up yet.
On an IMAX screen, this huge amount of black surrounding the audience could feel rather claustrophobic - very possibly in a good way.
Our first look at the film's star, Tom Cruise is at his back. Like in the poster. Like in absolutely loads of recent posters, in fact. Star Trek Into Darkness was the most recent one, but there's also The Raid, Battleship, Battle: LA, two Batman movies... and so on.
This next beat convinces me we'll be seeing a special Superbowl spot for this movie. Mind you, I would have predicted so anyway - just now, I'm pretty sure it will have these scenes in it.
Andrea Riseborough, on the other end of the line - cf. A Matter of Life and Death, Source Code, M in Skyfall, Rosemary the telephone operator...
It is nice to see her in a movie like this. For the movie, at least. Hopefully it will end up nice for Riseborough too.
From the grey of her costume, and of Cruise's, and of the craft he's leaving and the drone he's approaching, we're starting to get a sense of these people and these things all belonging together. To the same planetary clean up crew, as it happens.
But he has his cap - a personal flourish. Still grey, mind. Don't step too out of line, Tom.
Even the dog is grey. This must be some kind of horrible dystopia, right?
He doesn't look too unhealthy. I guess there's some way that feral dogs can survive in this future world.
Here we have a man fixing a robotic device built to do jobs in the place of men, with a man drawn on it. Not sure what all of that adds up to, but I got half way through the equation at least.
Another proscenium effect. And this did remind me of Wall-E's little home, just at a different scale. Mind you, the premise of the film put Wall-E in my mind, so I was on a hair trigger there, I suppose. I'm surprised I didn't see Wall-Es popping up everywhere.
Now this is the Tom Cruise we know and love from Oprah's couch.
Such an empty frame. All that space and just one wee fella.
Back to the repair procedure. Doesn't seem to be anything more difficult than changing the battery. I do hope there's more to it than this - surely these drones could be programmed to recharge themselves, even swap their own cells when the time comes? Who designed these things?
The eye starts "looking" properly again as it wakes up. Gives the little thing a hint of personality, or at least marks it out as having identity, rather than just being like a spoon or a toothbrush or a shoe.
We get a closer look at the illustration too.
And off it goes, apparently using normal flight mechanics of some kind - ie. not levitation or some sort of magnetic-something-something. Which makes me wonder why it's so blessedly unaerodynamic.
Note also the number 166. We'll be seeing a lot of these numbers.
And that number is apparently unique to this "drone" as the Cruiser has just used it to identify the unit. Such a low number suggests there probably aren't too many of these things.
Is that... the Empire State building? This does beg the question "Where is everything? Why are some things still standing while other things seem to have vanished?" But, as you'll see, this is solved just a few shots ahead... or in the poster, if you were paying attention.
And talking of unaerodynamic, as we were, Cruise's little thing doesn't look very functional. So to speak.
...it can fly through storms, though. Shots from this sequence don't seem to appear anywhere else in the trailer.
Now, watch this scene back, in full motion. There's an empty seat next to Cruise... or is there?
Is there something in that seat? Something appears to be wobbling around but I couldn't tell you what. Not some sort of bobble head on the dashboard is it?
Nor could I tell you why this one-man-going-it-alone hero has a two-seater, but I expect it's instrumental in some respect. Could just be there for subtext - as you'll see later, he hasn't always flown alone.
And here's the solution to the earlier mystery - sort of.
It looks like nothing went away, just that the ground has risen up - an accretion from floods, perhaps?
But in any case, how would we explain this canyon?
And... so we're now in a world full of mountains because there's just more ground? I've started to convince myself that's the idea here. I can't wait to hear the explanation as tho how it has happened.
TC, TCB. He's setting his cap in place because he's got work to do.
More non-aerodynamic things in the sky. We can see some kid of exhaust, ostensibly explaining their propulsion or levitation. But not their shape, which seems designed to work against any kind of uplift.
This shot is pretty similar to a piece of art from the original 'comic book proposal thing' that Kosinski came up with before starting work on the film. See it below.
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Here's some more Wall-E-ism. There's also a touch of Silent Running about this beat.
The logo on the holster has part appeared in several shots but this is the first time it's been in full view. I still can't make out what it is, mind...
Here we see the red eye, the universal identifier of the Cylon monster killer robot threat.
The "danger scurries past in the foreground" shot is something of a genre standby. I guess it works, so why the hell not?
A lot of the shots in the trailer are fire-lit. Here's the first. It's a change from the grey-on-grey colour scheme at least.
You might also want to count how many shots feature Tom Cruise pointing or firing his gun at something.
Here we see the bomb thing from The Dark Knight Rises, or a close cousin. I'm genuinely pretty intrigued as to what this thing is.
Hi honey, he's home. Not much of the standard-issue grey in this image. Perhaps it comes from a "nice" bit.
Note the completely odd ornamentation on the end of the table. Like so much in this trailer it seems to be there because it's a certain shape, not because there's any obvious function.
Again - I can't work out what these things on the left here are. Nice big coffee table though...
...oh, it's not. It's actually a very oddly designed touch screen interface. Even if this thing was designed for the use of multiple people sitting on both sides that weird bit at the end where it goes up the wall is still a bit of a headscratcher. I just don't know why it would be like that.
And here we are on Bespin, Cloud City.
He certainly managed to land straight, didn't he?
Jack Harper, is it? Well, I'm surprised, in the year of John Carter, Jack Reacher and Alex Cross this film isn't just called Jack Harper.
The 49 logo is clear, finally. Some association with Miner 49er? Anyway, another low number seems to suggest that these operation is limited only to the US - or that they at leas started counting there. What's happening in the rest of the world?
These things were out of alignment when he landed, now they're lining up for take off. Doesn't help me work out what the heck they are, though, not for sure - but my best guess is that they're guns. He's bound to have to shoot something, sometime, right?
Well, the second seat seems empty now.
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Here, a close up of him pulling back the control... remember this...
Seems like a pretty awkward way to take off. How is this practical?
Sometime, Kosinski just fills the screen with grey.
They do meet, then. Until now I was thinking either one of Cruise or Riseborough's characters was radioactive or full of germs. This shot shows that, for at least one scene, they come face to face.
Not quite a proscenium composition but great swathes of darkness abound. Is very reminiscent of a scene in Twelve Monkeys where Bruce Willis' character enters a ruined department store.
A book, conspicuously laying in the open.
Now, a continuous sequence of shots, just for a few seconds. Helps sell the action of the scene - ie. Cruise scanning around, and not finding anything...
...until he does.
All of these wires, or whatever they, have been arranged like this on purpose. It remains to be seen if the purpose is that of the characters or of the art department.
Sometimes, the guns in this film look like a NES or SNES peripherals to me. It's the colour scheme, mainly, but the designs aren't that different.
Somebody has been ruining books, by the looks of things. So... why did they leave that one intact?
And here we have Tom Cruise suspended on some kind of wire. I guess he just likes hanging like this.
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Another deep-black IMAX moment.
Not only tying his hands together but having them tied back like this is such a sensible idea. Less diligent movie captors, take note.
We can probably sort the scenes in this trailer into "before cut on nose" and "after cut on nose," and I tried, but I couldn't quite get it straight, as you'll see.
The closeups in the scene use shallow focus, it would seem, to better highlight his eyes. The implication, perhaps, is that we can read him, look right into him...
Whereas Morgan Freeman has little mirrors over his eyes.
And yes, he does look like Morpheus in The Matrix. He also reminds me of the old main in the oil tank in Waterworld, but that's just because he's lit by the flame, really.
When the doors open and the lights come in we seem some silhouettes and I'm pretty sure they're people.
This is going to be pretty intense on an IMAX screen. Also, anybody not sitting rather near the back will have to choose which eye they'd like to look at... or maybe the scar.
Here's the reveal - that this big dark space and has been full of people all along.
This is reminiscent of everything from Fortress to Face/Off to The Dark Knight Rises.
Tom seems pretty suspicious...
...Freeman seems pretty confident.
I've included this off-topic title card because it pops up here to tell us what Rise of the Planet of the Apes was called in Columbia - and what a brilliant title it is.
He's got his SNES Superscope, but he's not dressed in his regulation greys. This must be Jack Harper on a day off. Note that Tom Cruise is wearing slightly-softer blues and there are trees, too. Natural things in natural colours - but nothing so bold as a red or yellow.
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This looks pretty convincing so I expect it took a few takes.
If you look on the right of frame there appears to be a structure made out of wood. Is this from a sequence in the film in which Cruise isn't "playing along"? Has he gone AWOL from his duties? Might explain why he was prepared to shoot down the flying craft.
Square on to Cruise, with a pentagonal shape framing him. Remember this for later.
Lots of this film was shot in Iceland, if you couldn't guess.
Now, this book is a copy of The Lays of Ancient Rome by Thomas Babington Macaulay. The page is turned to Horatius, the first poem. The oft-quoted, and most relevant passage is below the image.
Then out spake brave Horatius,the Captain of the Gate:"To every man upon this earthDeath cometh soon or late.And how can man die betterthan facing fearful odds,For the ashes of his fathers,And the temples of his GodsWhat's this contraption, screen right?
The most extreme of all of the proscenium shots.
The flashback, memory or dream, denoted by black and white - as is so often the case.
We're near the Empire State Building here, I believe, as set pictures cropped up during shooting. Note how Cruise appears to be more or less the same age as in "the future."
Note the tourist binoculars. This is our first look at Olga Kurylenko in the trailer. She looks back towards Tom...
...but he's not there. There's just a blur.
Now Jack Harper approaches the binoculars again, in the "present day" of the story. The rack focus from the binoculars to Harper is used to marry the shot to the previous one.
We don't know why the ground is on fire, just yet.
Note how Riseborough is able to watch. What is the camera mounted on?
This thing has landed, intact, while everything else is wreckage. I assume it's made out of the same stuff as Indiana Jones' refrigerator.
As we get closer, we can see it's marked with the word Odyssey. I think we can put together that some kind of spaceship called The Odyssey has crashed here, and this was onboard it. There are twin badges for NASA and Japan - but not JAXA, Japan's version of NASA. I guess they're not well known enough.
Riseborough on the far right of frame, lots of empty space to the left. Remember that.
It's Olga Kurylenko. You can see a readout for her vitals and she seems to be doing fine. This is where we learn her name, or at least part of it: J. Rusakova.
He's wearing his 49 jacket.
Straight on to the camera, surrounded by a polygonal shape. A similar strategy as to before. It's a shot pretty similar to one in Mark Romanek's video for Scream by Michael and Janet Jackson, which I've put below.
This shot of Kurylenko formally echoes the one of Riseborough from just a few seconds ago.
Note that she's holding onto Cruise while he's in an apparently darker jacket. Is this a flashback to before she was put in this thing?
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Aren't there an awful lot of shots in which Cruise is essentially surrounded by darkness? Indeed - there's a lot of black screen in this trailer, full stop.
So what's going on with the jacket being so dark here?
The shot basically echoes the ones of Harper looking down at Rusakova in her "stasis unit" but he's dressed like the embrace shot we saw before. The trailer would seem to be cutting back and forth between scenes - and the cut on the nose seems to suggest the "darker jacket" scenes come later.
Part of the spaceship blows up. They should have built the whole thing out of Indiana Jones' fridge material.
At this point, she uses his name and he doesn't know how she knows it. Has Jack Harper had his memory wiped? Does Oblivion come with that second meaning?
This is rather reminiscent of the beginning of Aliens. I've popped an image from just one shot of Ripley being scanned in her stasis pod below.
One of the little numbered drones is opening fire here. It's not clear what on, but I've pulled a frame in which you can see it shooting.
Cruise tells it to stand down, and so it engages him...
...well, we say it. It's not Riseborough controlling these things, is it?
To me it looks like she's pressing where it says "Feed." I have no idea why she'd do that.
So it seems that Riseborough, or at least the drones, wants to do some real damage to the survivors of this crash...
...and having set up those seeds of antagonism, here we see them going eye-to-eye through glass. Best guess is that he's mad at her for what she's just done, and she's locked him out.
I call this shot "What if the Tusken Raiders wore Darth Vader helmets?' and I appreciate how even the sound effect is Star Wars-y.
See the concept art, below this frame, for a clear idea of just how Tusken these guys are supposed to be.
Look carefully and you'll see Kurylenko - at least it looks like her - running up behind Cruise.
Number 267. Do these numbers go all the way up into the thousands, do you think, around the world? Is it just that America got the low numbers in the way they got 001 as an international dialling code?
Kurylenko, with her hair down, and what looks like "a rag tag rattlebag of rebels," apparently in the way of some laser-targeted weaponry.
This seems to be pretending to be the reverse angle, but I don't think it is. The lighting is wrong and there's not the right amount of laser beams.
Or maybe I'm wrong and all those insurgent-looking types are hiding out near the Superbowl stadium from the start of the trailer. If they are... why? What's going on?
This item is powerful, I assume, as it has some red to it, like the batteries from the early sequence of the film.
Is Morgan Freeman one of the Tusken Raider types? He certainly shares their taste in wardrobe.
This is good angle to highlight the dynamism, and illogic, of the back-flip launch.
Somebody seems to be blowing up the offices of Cruise and Riseborough.
Something got smushed because there's ash in the wind. What's this in the extreme foreground that Cruise is looking at?
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Kurylenko in hair-down mode. If we could see the badges and designs on her uniform better I think we'd be able to make more of this, but it seems to me like she's wearing a dark jacket like the one Cruise had on in a few shots above. Did they work together before? Was she his "earlier Riseborough" before going on The Odyssey?
All of these references to "the truth" and Harper needing to "know what happened" suggest quite strongly that he's had his memory mucked with and Riseborough's character is in some way handling or manipulating him.
This may be The Odyssey, or it may not. Note the little space craft apparently docking - easier to see in the moving video.
Seems like Jack and Rusakova are onboard, and a couple.
Here we see a few shots of apparently Kurylenko and Cruise, in two different costumes at two different times and he's continuing to be very confused. I know how he feels.
The view from inside the minor proscenium of Cruise's wooden house.
Whoever she is, she's pretty handy with a gun.
And this, I think, is our first, good, face-on look at one of the Scavs. I only know what they're called because of the official plot blurb, which I'll pop below this image.
Note how much of the frame is filled with black once again.
On a spectacular future Earth that has evolved beyond recognition, one man?s confrontation with the past will lead him on a journey of redemption and discovery as he battles to save mankind.Not the unnatural type of canyon we saw before but something much less geometric.
Jack Harper (Cruise) is one of the last few drone repairmen stationed on Earth. Part of a massive operation to extract vital resources after decades of war with a terrifying threat known as the Scavs, Jack?s mission is nearly complete.
Living in and patrolling the breathtaking skies from thousands of feet above, his soaring existence is brought crashing down when he rescues a beautiful stranger from a downed spacecraft. Her arrival triggers a chain of events that forces him to question everything he knows and puts the fate of humanity in his hands.
As Riseborough orders Jack to stand down, it's drones vs. humans. And it looks like the humans are losing.
That cut is still there. That probably added twenty minutes in the make-up chair every morning, you know.
This time, he's pushing the lever forwards. We've had both! Collect the set!
Dogfight with drones. In a trench. Looks like number 90 is about to get it.
Here's number 196. I'm still looking for a four digit code. One over 300 would be a start.
Harper in his cockpit...
...Tusken Morpheus in his?
There are pipes that made me think of a TIE fighter pilot, as seen below.
Some kind of workshop? After the minimalist, all-form, no-function world of Cruise's tower top base, this place looks like a terrible mess.
Back in the black jacket time frame again.
Something from beneath grabs a hold of Harper. Some kind of mechanical claw reaching up from between the pages of turn up books.
And it's strong enough to pull him down...
...and drag him off. An action beat to end on, to promise us that this film has chasing and shooting and danger in it.
The title in Spanish is The Time of Oblivion.
And so we reach the end of this teaser trailer. I've got Riseborough pegged as the baddy, I've seen a few Total Recall echoes, and I'm amazed by how little of the frame Kosinski and his DOP Claudio Miranda have treated to light at times.
Okay, roll on the next trailer. I want to see more. Actually, can we just skip that and get to the film now?
Oblivion will open in US IMAX cinemas on April 12th then go wider to "normal" screens a week later.