June 8, 2014

Movie Review: Edge of Tomorrow

I have to admit, when I first saw the trailer for Edge of Tomorrow, I did not think much of it. It looked like a mash of Oblivion and Battle: Los Angeles, with a touch of Groundhog's Day. It did not look like something that would deliver any high entertainment levels. Of course, it was a foregone conclusion that I would see it, it just isn't that sort of movie I am willing to completely write off. Then, as the release approached, positive word seemed to be coming from unexpected locations. Places I expected to see mediocre to poor reviews were giving it good notice. Interesting, maybe there is something to this after all.

Very much to my surprise, Edge of Tomorrow is a lot of fun. It is a great blend of action, comedy, story, and gimmick. It is constructed in such a fashion that it never gets boring, moves at a swift pace and blends an underlying darkness with a certain amount of levity. Editing is also a strong point, with all the looping back that it does, they know when to skip stuff, how to ask forward through bits in a way to make it appear we aren't watching the same not over and over.

The movie is based on a manga called "All You Need is Kill" by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. I did not know this going in, but it makes sense considering the anime-style sword that Emily Blunt is carrying around. The tale was adapted by Christopher McQuarrie and the team of Jez and John-Henry Butterworth. The result is a blast of summer energy directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith).

The movie is set at some point in the, I would assume, a not too distant future. An alien invasion army has landed in Europe and proceeded to decimate the worlds forces. They are taking over everything with their uncanny ability to predict what the human forces are going to do, making them a seemingly unbeatable force. As the movie opens, the united forces of he world are readying a massive attack, a last ditch effort, a do or die run for the the survival of humanity.

Tom Cruise stars as Bill Cage, a media relations officer in the US Army. He has done his job, selling this big invasion to the people, telling them of this new technology being used in the fight. The tech resembles the front loader suit we saw Ripley use in Aliens. Cage thinks his work is done, but it is really just beginning, as a continued push for the PR of the fight, Cage is being sent to the front lines as a soldier.

It is his being sent tot he front that really gets the story going. We follow him to the battle and his unfortunate encounter with one of the aliens (called Mimics, and looking like the squid things from The Matrix on speed) the real fun begins. The day snaps back and events begin to replay themselves. Cage is initially very confused, but quickly becomes savvy to what is happening and a chance meeting with a highly decorated soldier, Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), leads to new revelations and a possible plan to win the war.

Again, I was really surprised by how good Edge of Tomorrow is. The movie sets up an interesting future and injects a familiar, Groundhog's Day type of set up and then just jumps right in. It is a summer oriented movie that delivers. I am not suggesting this is a great movie by any stretch, but it is one that does its best to entertain. It has characters you want to root for, action that is exciting, and it goes about it all in a smart way. The real key to this is the execution of the time changes. Editing, More so than other films this year, is key. How much do you show, how many repeats do you go through, all important decisions that an affect the entertainment value.

The short answer is that Edge of Tomorrow is finely crafted popcorn entertainment. It can play to the resiliency of the human spirit, but it really just seems intent to have fun. There is a definite underlying darkness as the characters are working in the face of possible complete destruction, but it does not get caught up in that. Some scenes are played for laughs, and rightly so, not necessarily that they are cracking jokes, but the ridiculous in the way they appear to an audience. It is a fine line that is danced along, and maintained quite well, I might add.

Edge of Tomorrow may be a bad, generic sounding title, but don't let that stop you. This is a very entertaining movie that works well on the big screen. I recommend it.


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