Sunday, June 01, 2014

“Edge Of Tomorrow”– Movie Review



This weekend, my movie class had the first bonus of the Summer Semester with a screening of the new science fiction tale, “Edge Of Tomorrow”, starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt.


When an inexperienced soldier is sent to fight an alien invasion of earth, he learns that battling the aliens has given him special powers – but will he be able to figure out how to use those powers to defeat the aliens before they completely take over?


When aliens invade the Earth, nations of the world unite in an effort to beat them, forming The United Defense Forces.  Finding the task something of an uphill battle, they enlist the aid of William Cage (Cruise), a Major in the United States Army.  Cage, with a background in advertising during his civilian years, seems the perfect choice to be in charge of Media Relations, where he’s responsible for effectively “selling” the war to the inhabitants of the planet by interviews with the news media and telling them what a terrific job the UDF is doing, despite various setbacks.

One day, Cage finds out  he’s going to the front lines to fight the aliens, known as Mimics.  Despite being untrained on any of the latest equipment and completely lacking in combat experience, he is embedded in a company of soldiers effectively on a suicide mission.  Upon engaging the enemy, he surprisingly manages to kill a special type of alien known as an Alpha – but when the Alpha contaminates Cage with his alien blood, he perishes.  The effect of the alien blood is that Cage finds he is able to re-live that day and engage in the exact same battle again and again and again. 

Cage then meets Rita Vrataski (Blunt), a fellow soldier who’s developed something of a legendary reputation as a hero during this war; he confesses his ability to “reset” – to re-live each day after he dies in battle and Rita admits she used to have this skill herself until losing it following a blood transfusion.  They team-up to try to defeat the aliens by killing the Omega, who is essentially their brain.  Rita mentors him on the resetting ability and trains him in combat; eventually, they get closer to finding the Omega.  But when Cage suddenly loses his powers, can the two still find and kill the Omega?


Stories about temporal fluidity can be hard to depict in film; the ability to convey time movement in subtle ways without confusing the audience are challenging, to say the least.  When you see how perfectly logical the way “Edge Of Tomorrow” is laid out, you can really appreciate how skilled director Doug Liman is when it comes to telling a tale as complex as this one.  There have been descriptions of “Edge Of Tomorrow” as “Starship Troopers” meets “Groundhog Day”; while the comparisons are certainly understandable, they are also unfair – the characterization severely and unnecessarily trivializes the movie.

This movie is likely to be one of the big early summer hits, and deservedly so.  As much as it may pain me to say so, Tom Cruise is actually quite good here; he plays an unsympathetic coward who admits to fainting at the sight of blood, but as a result of suffering through one hardship after another, he learns how to become heroic.  This screening was of the 3D version; there are a few battle scenes with flying debris where the 3D effects are well-utilized, but other than that, there isn’t much to substantially recommend the 3D version over the regular version. 

Following the screening, our instructor interviewed director Doug Liman.  Liman said that one of the biggest surprises of this movie was how involved he wound up being with the sound designer; he didn’t anticipate having to spend so much time and effort deciding things like how the aliens’ growl would sound, when it would be used and its volume.  He found Cruise to be a particularly good physical comedian, which he felt was especially evident in the scenes where Cage hadn’t quite learned how to use the weapons in the suit of armor the soldiers had to wear in battle.   

Edge of Tomorrow (2014) on IMDb


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