Monday, June 9, 2014

The Edge of Tomorrow

I sort of have a feeling that I'm supposed to hate Tom Cruise at this point. With him being a super egocentric, Scientologist nut-job, he hasn't exactly been scoring any cool points as of lately. As for me? I just don't care one way or the other. As far as I'm concerned, he's a good actor who specializes in movies where he runs a lot. Last year, that movie was Oblivion, an epically boring science fiction film with no real story or depth as it disguises its fault with plot twists in order to make itself look smarter than it really is. Granted, I wasn't exactly looking forward to that movie coming out, but it wasn't like I wanted it to suck though, it just...did.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I actually was looking forward to The Edge of Tomorrow(even if the title is just soooo dumb, why couldn't they have just left it at All You Need is Kill?), but that was mostly because the premise in this movie was pretty killer. Tom Cruise lives through the same day over and over in his life in order to improve his fighting skills and strategies against an alien invasion. How he acquired those powers was kept away from the trailers, but it all gets established early on in the movie. Tom Cruise plays a character where he runs around a lot, but, this time, he's aided by wearing a weaponized robot suit that was built for winning against the driving conflict of an alien invasion. So, in short, what we have here is a killer time-loop premise mixed with robots and aliens.

Yeah, I can dig that even if the movie was less than stellar.

Luckily, the movie goes in with a surprisingly tight screenplay and story. It'd be one thing to have an action hero gain the super power to go back in time and redo his action scenes in order to get better in the fights he's had before, but what if this was happening to a guy who wasn't an action hero or anyone special? What if it happened to one of the most inept people to get thrown into combat in the first place? That's the clever turn around in this movie as Tom Cruise plays an incredible loser who they just throw into the lower ranks of "grunt combat" because the guy he plays is sort of a scumbag that nobody really wants to deal with.

As Sinistar once said "Ron Howard!!!"

After an extended war sequence where Tom Cruise runs around and barely survives every single alien encounter he goes through, he kills one of the alien forces through dumb luck but dies due to the aliens acidic blood pouring all over him. Of course, a guy like this would have died through combat, but, after his death scene, he awakens back to the beginning of the day where he finds himself in the lower ranks. This time, it's realized that they are fighting a losing battle and it must be something to do with the alien blood that got dumped all over Cruise's face. Of course, as he tries to explain that he's been through this day before and tries to warn everybody that the battlefront they are getting into is actually going to be a death trap, nobody believes him. So, it's up to him to use this new found power to his advantage.

I've talked with people who were worried that the scenes were probably going to get repetitive since he would have to be living through the same day over and over again, but the movie is way too smart to let this happen. Sure, we'll see the same scenes play out differently after Tom Cruise realizes that this certain action is what's going to kill him, but they cleverly cut out all of the scenes that we don't need to see again. Most of the time when they do repeat a scene, it's usually back to back as they show Tom Cruise perform an action, die due to something stupid, a shot of him getting mad and frustrated, and then back to the same scene but he corrects his mistake this time. You could probably compare it to a video game only if it were the kind of video game that will let you choose the point you would want to redo again.

This movie also highlights something weird that inevitably crops up in every action movie, which is how improbably skilled and lucky our main hero is as he goes through these impossible endeavors. Nearly every action-lead to any kind of movie will have his reflexes amped up to actually see the danger that will come upon him. Even if a bad guy is pretty good at hiding his own telegraphed attacks, the good guy is always one step ahead of him, being able to predict each move and what he needs to do in order to counter it.

But who needs that kind of skill when you have rockets strapped on to your back?

Had The Edge of Tomorrow been your standard action flick, we would have gotten something very much like what I just described. But then the movie highlights that it'd be impossible for the main hero to survive unless he didn't know what was going to happen before hand. Movies can compensate by actually making it feel like the main character is going through split second decisions, but the premise to this movie gives it all of the excuses it can have in order to provide for some really inventive action scenes while also pointing out that action scenes can only happen like this if the main character had a super power like this.

The movie doesn't hit its mark all the way through however as the final action scene loses a lot of momentum when it ironically becomes Generic Action Movie: The Movie. This might be due to Tom Cruise losing his time loop power during the last bit of the movie(No, I don't consider this a spoiler, because it gets established really early on that it is possible to lose this power. When they establish it, you can pretty much set your watch to how long it takes for him to finally lose his power since the movie feels it needs a way to increase the tension), but, where as the earlier fight scenes involved guys in robot suits and aliens trading off super power attacks against each other, the final part doesn't even bother to try to get creative when they strip off Tom Cruise's robotic suit to fight the final boss fight. There's a couple of gun shots, a grenade gets thrown, and then other stuff happens that's supposed to resemble conflict.

Also, while I do think the robot suits are really well designed, I'm not sure if I'm a fan of there drab, brownish-grayish color. For one thing, this isn't exactly a dark kind of movie where it needs to have this sort of "grey look" in order for it to have a dark tone. This movie is a lot more fun than that and a little more color to these things would have gone a long way(save for a little bit of red on Emily Blunt's costume). Also, the design for the aliens look overly-complicated and messy. There's not really much in the way of separating the aliens in this movie to a lot of other movies. They're just kind of boring and not all that memorable.

Also, more samurai swords would have gone a long way as well!

However, when it all comes down to it, what we have here is actually a pretty daring and solid film. What could have been an empty action movie with a some-what clever premise goes in for a tight and character-driven screenplay that makes The Edge of Tomorrow more than an empty-shell. I'm not sure if this movie is going to go down as any sort of classic or if it will really strike anyone as more than just a solid sci-fi action flick, but it does everything it needs to pretty admirably. I had a good time with it and I'm pretty sure it will please many others as well.

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