Thursday, July 10, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: Edge of Tomorrow

This summer has been somewhat disappointing to me in the number of summer blockbusters I have been interested in seeing. Maybe I'm just getting older  but I really don't have much interest in seeing the any Transformers movie, or the new reboot of Spider-Man or the sequel to How To Train Your Dragon, even though these may be fine movie. Some of the movies I thought I would want to see ended up getting pretty mediocre reviews on (like Godzilla: 74%, A Million Ways To Die in The West: 17%) since generally I won't see anything that is not above an 80% rating. I did enjoy X-Men: Days of Future Past (which has a 92% rating). Really the only other movie I've seen from this year is the interesting The Grand Budapest Hotel (91% rating).

I really did not expect to go see the new Tom Cruise flick Edge of Tomorrow but when I found out that it had a 90% rating on I was intrigued. When I discovered that it was science fiction and Emily Blunt was in it, I decided to go with some of my friends on July 4th to see it. Apparently we were the exceptions to the rule because the Hollywood trades are full of stories bemoaning the pitiful box-office for this usually boffo weekend.

Edge of Tomorrow is an adaptation of the Japanese novella titled All You Need Is Kill published in 2009. Tom Cruise plays Major William Cage, an American public-relations officer who is sent over to England on the eve of a huge united assault by human forces against an alien invasion which has basically decimated most of western Europe. Emily Blunt plays Rita Vrataski, a soldier whose fighting exploits are near legendary and whose story Cage has used effectively in the media to encourage hundreds of thousands of people to sign up to fight the alien invaders, known as "Mimics." Blunt is known as "The Angel of Verdun" for basically singlehandedly saving dozens of lives against overwhelming odds and as "Full Metal Bitch" by others. Her image is on recruitment posters seen throughout the film.

The story proceeds with Maj. Cage waking up on a helicopter on his way to London to meet  General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson), the commander of International United Defense Forces (IUDF). Cage is told at that meeting (much to his surprise and dismay since he has no combat training whatsoever) that he being sent to the front lines of tomorrow's surprise attack on the enemy in France. Cage's deployment to the front goes wrong within seconds and he is killed within minutes of anding on the shore when the enemy responds with surprisingly vicious (and effective) force to the IUDF sneak attack. Amazingly, Cage wakes up and proceeds to relive the 24 hours from the time he regains consciousness before the surprise attack over and over again. It's like a mash-up of Groundhog Day with Full Metal Jacket. Eventually he finds Vrataski and the discovers that she had previously experienced the same time loop phenomenon and they try to figure out how to exploit this fact to defeat the Mimics.

The time loop is depicted in a nice way, with minimal exposition (although of course it doesn't make much actual sense) but the best part of this aspect of the movie is that Cage's deaths (time line resets) are depicted in a humorous fashion where basically at the drop of a hat Vrataski will threaten Cage with a bullet to the head in order to reset the time line.

There is a nice bit of misdirection in the third act which I was surprised by and then the film ends with some exciting set action pieces. All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by the high quality of Edge of Tomorrow.

TitleEdge of Tomorrow.
Director: Doug Liman.
Running Time: 1 hour, 53 minutes.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and brief suggestive material.
Release Date: June 6, 2014.
Viewing Date: July 4, 2014.

Writing: B.
Acting: A-.
Visuals: B+.
Impact: B.

Overall Grade: B+/B (3.25/4.0).

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