Monday, June 9, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow Review

  1. Edge of Tomorrow 
    Lt. Col. Bill Cage is an officer who has never seen a day of combat when he is unceremoniously dropped into what amounts to a suicide mission. Killed within minutes, Cage now finds himself inexplicably thrown into a time loop - forcing him to live out the same brutal combat over and over, fighting and dying again - and again. But with each battle, Cage becomes able to engage the adversaries with increasing skill, alongside Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski. And, as Cage and Rita take the fight to the aliens, each repeated encounter gets them one step closer to defeating the enemy
    Release date: June 6, 2014 (USA)  
    Running time: 113 minutes 
    MPAA rating: PG-13

    Some Spoilers Ahead!

    Edge of Tomorrow is one hell of a great Sci Fi movie.  It has awesome action and special effects, an interesting concept and story, and some top notch acting.  From the trailers, the movie really seemed to have potential, but as we all know, the promotional material can often be misleading and make a crappy movie look a hell of a lot better than it really is.  In this case, the movie lived up to and exceeded my expectations.  I will admit that the last half hour isn’t quite as strong and original as the first hour and a half, but it’s still really great.  I won’t get into any details about the ending, but know that you will for sure need to discuss your interpretation of it with your friends after leaving the theater.  I’m still trying to figure out exactly what went down.

    Tom Cruise gets to start off the movie playing a character that's a bit different than what he usually plays; a complete coward.  He's not the usual in control, quick thinking, hero or the idealized, brave every-man.  He's someone looking out only for himself and completely unwilling to fight or make any kind of sacrifice in the service of others.  One of the best things about this movie is that you get to see quite a bit of character growth and development as he does go from coward to hero.  Granted, it's at the accelerated pace of a movie rather than say, a TV series, so a lot of that evolution happens through montages, but it still comes across as organic rather than an abrupt character change.
    This development is made possible because of the extra-terrestrial time traveling powers Cruise’s character Bill Cage gains. He gets these powers when he is forced to fight in a battle that he is completely unprepared for against alien aggressors. These powers allow him to relive the past 24 hours of his life (from the same starting point) each time he dies and because the battle he goes into is virtually unwinnable, he dies before the end of each day.
    This movie is packed with influences and concepts we’ve all seen before.  The military engaged in an impossible fight against alien invaders has been done time and again in movies like Independence Day and Battlefield: Los Angeles.  The use of mech-suits to fight off/with the E.T.’s, saw it in Aliens, Avatar, and District 9.  Reliving the same day over and over again, yeah, we all noticed the Groundhog Day parallel the second we saw the first trailer. Heck, the whole movie is loosely based on the manga, All You Need is Kill
    Maybe one of the biggest, most obvious influences would be seem to be video games.  The whole idea of fighting your way through a “level” only to die, respawn, and try again using what you’ve learned from your previous life to make it a little farther on your next try, has been a staple in video games since before Super Mario Bros. and Pac-man.  A large portion of the movie even looks like it could be some new next gen video game. Everything about the movie seems to be derived from something else, yet somehow it still comes across as totally new and fresh. I big part of that is due to some really clever writing. 
    As I’ve already stated, Cage is far from a two dimensional character, he has a full character arch and shows a great deal of growth over the course of the movie.  The other main character we get to see is Rita Vrataski, an incredible bad-ass warrior in the battle field known as the Angel of Verdun or Full Metal Bitch, played wonderfully by Emily Blunt.  She could have easily come across as a one-note character, but between Blunts acting abilities and little glimpses of her backstory, you get someone much more relatable than some cookie cutter kill machine.
    Cruise and Blunt work really well together and neither really seems to overshadow the other.  Cruise may get more screen time but the movie really belongs equally to both of them.  The one person who does steal every scene he’s in is Bill Paxton as Master Sergeant Farell.  Paxton sometimes pushes his over the top performances a little too much, like in Aliens, Predator 2, or recently in this past season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but I think in this movie he just nails it.  Even just his facial reactions to Cage when he reveals what seems to be precognitive abilities, is just perfect.  It brings a lot of humor to this movie, in fact, there are quite a few funny moments in the movie, but it all fits very organically and doesn’t come across forced or ever require resorting to cheesy one-liners.
    I haven’t talked too much about some of the amazing Sci-Fi aspects of this movie yet, but honestly, they are pretty freakin’ cool.  The aliens, called Mimics (although I can’t recall anything they were mimicking), are very different from anything you’ve seen before.  The way their bodies pulse with energy and the quick way they move is very menacing and conveys just how much of a threat they are to human existence. Without the aid of mechanized exoskeletons called Jackets, the humans wouldn’t be able to last two seconds against the Mimics.
    Speaking of the Jackets, they’re pretty damn cool looking.  They’re not super slick looking suits like Iron Man’s or oversized wearable battle tanks like in Avatar, but they do seem like feasible military grade hardware.  I’m really surprised no toy line has picked up this license yet.  This seems right up Hot Toys and NECA’s alley.  I’m sure the major stumbling block would be getting the rights to Tom Cruise’s likeness, because I can’t think of any action figures that have been made of him.
    Overall, I think Edge of Tomorrow is an incredibly successful Sci-Fi film that has a lot to offer an audience.  While I’d love to see more of this world, a part of me hopes that they don’t make any sequels, because I think this movie stands great on its own.  I’d hate to see it go down the route of the Matrix movies and have a strong original movie get watered down and lose some of its greatness through subsequent installments.  I have no problem seeing this movie go down in history as a true class science fiction film.

  2. Final Verdict 9/10

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