Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow Review

Those Mech-Suits they're wearing are awesome by the way
Few times in my life have I been more surprised then when I heard the good buzz for Edge of Tomorrow. Critics were loving the film, which looked like a Source Code knockoff. And yet, the buzz kept mounting, making its disappointing American box office all the more surprising (internationally, it's in much better shape) Plopping into my seat of my Monday night screening of the film, I was intrigued; would the film truly live up to it's lofty reputation?

In a word; no, it's not to the level of such excellent Summer 2014 blockbusters Godzilla or X-Men: Days of Future Past. And yet, the film is honestly better than it has any right to be. Its got an endearing sense of fun that helps keep one invested even during the sluggish moments.

Man oh man, the first thirty minutes of this movie is spectacular, with Tom Cruise acting as the perfect audience surrogate to experience the harsh extraterrestrial war that has been inflicted on Earth. Cruises character, Cage (yeah! He's not playing a character named Jack!), is as far from a fighter as possible, but when he's dropped into the battlefield against his will (complete with an all-new background), it does a nice job of contrasting against Cruises usual persona as a man of action who can handle anything. Seeing Cruise afraid, awkward and discombobulated is quite a treat, and like I said, he nicely matches the audiences feelings as we get tossed into this dizzying battlefield right alongside Cage.

The epic battlefield where Cage and his soldiers fight the alien threat, Mimics, is stunning to look at. So much activity occurs here that I'm sure it's only on repeat viewings that I'll be able to fully formulate all the carnage occurring. Director Doug Liman keeps things focused in these battle scenes, eschewing shaky-cam (which he unfortunately brings back for dialogue sequences)  for clarity, which comes in the form of a terrific tracking shot depiction Cage falling out of his plane onto the battlefield for the first time. That shot made me simply giddy, a sensation that's repeated the first time Cage begins to repeat his day. Now, I've of course seen trailers and commercials for this film dozens of times, yet the film is so impressive at this point that all the marketing materials just fade away; I too join Cage in his feeling of shock at seeing Bill Paxton introduce himself once more.

Alas, the good times cannot roll forever, and unfortunately, the film gets bogged down in generic action sequences where Emily Blunts character, Rita, trains Cage to be better in the field of combat by using his new "Groundhog Day" powers against the enemy. While it may sound ironic for a film whose primary plot device involves repeating the same day over and over, the repetitive nature of these scenes bogs the film down. After an electrifying first act, things just get too slow, and unfortunately, the screenwriters never give Rita anything truly interesting to do, a shame considering they have the talent of Emily Blunt on hand. things pick up for the finale, though even this has its flaws. The biggest one is the use of some soldiers from J-Squad, that start out as stereotypes and wind up as....stereotypes. Real pity, as considering the scripts ingenuity regarding Cage, I thought they might try to subvert those stereotypes to create more fleshed out characters. Nope; they pretty much remain Team America characters without the laughs.

But at least the rest of the third act, aside from some forced in romance stuff that feels unnecessary, is excellent, mainly thanks to many tense moments courtesy of those cool Mimic aliens, that sorta resemble the beasties from the first Hellboy. Oh! And did I mention the sense of humor that's prevalent in the movie? While it doesn't overwhelm the proceedings (they do know when scenes need to be completely serious), it lends a nice air of realism to the film, as many of Cages tactics do not work and lend themselves to humorous demises. It's a nice touch in a movie filled with them. It's far, far, far from perfect, but Edge of Tomorrow is still an enjoyable movie that at least has the courtesy to toss some clever ideas into its standard story.

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