Aside from the Mission: Impossible films, much of the recent portion of Tom Cruise’s acting career has seen the 51-year-old actor taking the lead in a number of science fiction films. Cruise teamed up with Steven Spielberg for the Philip K. Dick adaptation Minority Report in 2002, and again in 2005 for War of the Worlds. We recently saw him in Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion, and next year he’ll battle aliens in Edge of Tomorrow (formerly known as All You Need Is Kill). Just a few months ago, Cruise signed on to Yukikaze, yet another sci-fi project, which has now settled on someone to write the script.
According to Variety, Warner Bros. hired screenwriter Dan Mazeau to adapt Yukikaze. Mazeau only has one produced screenplay under his belt, Wrath of the Titans, make of that what you will. Although this will only be his second screenplay, Variety named him one of the “10 Screenwriters to Watch” in 2008, after his adaptation of Jonny Quest was placed on the Blacklist of the best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood.
Based on the popular Japanese novel from author Chōhei Kambayashi, Yukikaze takes place in the early 21st Century when aliens spill onto Earth through a dimensional portal over Antarctica. Sounds a little like Pacific Rim, but in space. To fight off the invaders, the U.N. establishes a defense force called Fairy Air Force (FAF) whose base is on a planet called Fairy. The novel centers on a fighter pilot named Lt. Rei Fukai (to be played by Tom Cruise), who pilots a Super Sylph B-503 fighter, nicknamed “Yukikaze,” or “Windblown Snow” in English. Fukai and the FAF fight off the threat, an alien race called the JAM, who have perfected the art of human cloning.
From this description, Yukikaze—I’m sure Warner Bros will re-title the adaptation—sounds like a mix between Pacific Rim, Oblivion, and Top Gun. It’s easy to imagine why Cruise signed on to lead the film. Maybe we’re going to get that Top Gun sequel after all.
Yukikaze was adapted as a five-part Anime in Japan, appearing from 2002 to 2005. The series won two Tokyo Anime Awards for Original Video Animation, once in 2003 and again in 2006, so there’s a certain pedigree to the source material, and expectations of quality will surely be high. We’ll see how the production shapes up after a director is attached to the film project.
This film sounds like it might actually be good, but has a few knocks against it. The premise sounds derivative, like something we’ve seen before, and, sadly, it stars Tom Cruise. You get the feeling that general audiences and genre fans are no longer interested in seeing Cruise headline science fiction films. While Minority Report is a modern classic, that was more than 10 years ago. He didn’t particularly light up the screen in Oblivion, and we still have to wait and see how Edge of Tomorrow pans out. I think it’s time that Cruise (and Will Smith for that matter) bow out and leave sci-fi to a new generation of actors.