Edge of Tomorrow
Those of you waiting for the next big budget sci-fi gem may have found it in Edge of Tomorrow. This action-packed thriller is exactly the fun, yet thought provoking shot of adrenaline that this summer sorely needed.
Time travel movies are always a risky endeavor. While some of them have become timeless classics (Back to the Future), most others never really resonated well with their audiences (Timeline). Part of the problem of telling a story about time travel is that you have to get your audience to go along with it. As far as I am aware, time travel has not been invented and therefore it isn’t something that most people are going to be that familiar with. There’s simply a lot to think about. The methods and effects of time travel are almost as unreal as science fiction can get. Therefore, time travel films have typically chosen to handle this delicate subject in one of two ways; make it simple or make it complex. The movies with simple time travel (Planet of the Apes) have mostly fared well, while those exploring the more complicated philosophy (A Sound of Thunder) have not.
Edge of Tomorrow finds the perfect medium. It has a clearly defined end goal, which keeps the audience focused, but it doesn’t move towards that goal in a typical time travel movie fashion. It isn’t trying to delicately maneuver itself to surprise the audience at the end, or lecture you about living each day to the fullest. Instead it is action packed, pulling the audience into one of the most exhilarating character struggles ever brought to the big screen. The themes and ideas it tosses around are heady enough to overwhelm the audience, but the brisk pace and excellent presentation makes it entertaining instead. Part of the winning formula is the fact that the film has a heart. It takes itself seriously, but not too seriously. There is comedy among the tragedy, and emotion among the technological overabundance. The fact that all of this proficiency comes from a summer blockbuster is the best, and most surprising part. Enjoy it while you can, because movies like this one don’t come along very often.
Entertainment Factor: While the gimmick of this film may not be completely original, it expands the idea, so that it reaches new and interesting places. Furthermore, the presentation is spot on. It has the perfect pacing for a summer blockbuster, never getting bogged down in the details or getting caught up in unnecessary emotional fluff. It keeps pushing forward, relentlessly attacking the audience, but it never becomes too overwhelming. The premise of the film is at the same time engaging and thought-provoking. As soon as the film starts, you feel like you are a part of the relentless struggle, enjoying every moment of the effort, not to be released until the end to resume your normal existence. Great (5/5)
Story: The film is derivative, action driven, and blunt. Fortunately, because of the film’s innovative construction, these don’t become faults. Instead, the audience enjoys these simplicities in each scene. The action drives everything forward. The directness keeps the audience focused. The repetition allows, over time, layers of meaning and possibilities to build up from scratch. The film plays off of itself using minor changes introduced slowly at first and then rapidly towards the end in order to show the passage of time. The audience feels like they are along for the ride, exploring along with the characters but never limited by their perspectives. It is an excellent example of a somewhat complicated idea being presented on screen as efficiently as possible without watering anything down. Good (4.5/5)
Acting: This is Tom Cruises’ best movie in years. While he doesn’t necessarily do anything different here that he hasn’t done elsewhere, his experience and talents in this type of a role really anchors the movie. Cruise is featured in every scene without exception, yet you never tire of him or his character. Emily Blunt continues her trend of portraying strong female characters in heady sci-fi flicks. Her “Full Metal Bitch” persona here is more brawn than we’ve seen her do before, but there’s also a lot of opportunity for her to show a softer side, where she excels. She works well with Tom Cruise, and the complexity of her character really makes for an interesting performance. The rest of the cast is also good in their roles. Brendan Gleeson and Bill Paxton flush out two important characters. Good (4/5)
Direction: Besides Jumper, director Doug Liman has really shown a lot of skill at creating fun action films that are always a step above the competition in terms of brains. Films like The Bourne Identity and Mr.& Mrs. Smith have clearly influenced what he does in Edge of Tomorrow. He competently handles all of the action sequences, which there are a lot of. Even when there is a lot of action going on in the background, the audience is never overwhelmed or unable to follow what is happening. He uses a lot of quick shots to maintain the pacing. There are a few moments where he pulls the camera back to allow the audience to survey their surroundings, but for the most part the film is close and up tight. This makes it feel more personal, more first-person perspective much like in his Bourne film. In Mr. & Mrs. Smith Liman proved that he wouldn’t get lost when the action lulled, and in this movie the same is true. Good (4.0/5)
Production: This film has great construction and finish. The special effects are present throughout and although there are moments that don’t seem as realistic as others, the overall conclusion is that the special effects work well. This is especially true because the film is so creative. One of the most creative aspects of the film is the alien enemy that the humans are fighting, called “The Mimics”. They are something that we haven’t seen before, at the same time incredibly cool and incredibly terrifying. Beyond the impressive special effects, the film has excellent stunt work and action sequences. Probably the most impressive aspect of the film’s production is its consistency. Because of all the repetition required for the story, there are lots of scenes and sequences that happen exactly the same way over and over. Because of the film makers’ focus on details, these repetitive scenes never feel like they are missing anything. They recapture the visuals and emotion of seeing that scene the first time. Overall, Edge of Tomorrow is a surprisingly interesting and well-constructed film that never resorts to familiar tricks in order to keep its audience engaged. It feels innovative and energetic, exactly what summer movies are supposed to be. Good (4.0/5)
What’s Bad: Generic title, limited perspective, some minor special effects blemishes.