EDGE OF TOMORROW
BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
JUNE 6, 2014
If you have ever owned a Nintendo in your lifetime, then you have shared the unique struggles experienced by Tom Cruise’s character in the new action film “Edge Of Tomorrow”. In the film, an alien race has come to Earth and taken over parts of Germany and France, while the militaries of the world ban together to fight off the invasion. Cruise plays Major William Cage, a glorified advertiser for the Army with no combat experience who suddenly finds himself unwillingly on the frontline. Like Major Cage, most of us have zero experience in the field of battle, especially against an invading alien swarm, yet we take on that role in most of the video games we play these days. But whereas the video games today have “save” buttons that let you pick up where you left off or re-spawn from your last save point when you die, the video games of the ‘90s, particularly Nintendo, we’re not as kind.
When you died in the ‘90s video games, you started the level completely over. But the more times you died, the more you began to form a strategy to get further. You figured out how many times the fireballs rotated in Bowser’s castle before you had a window to run through or how many barrels Donkey Kong had to throw before you could climb the last ladder. We have all lived our versions of “Groundhog Day”, a ‘90s comedy where Bill Murray lives the same day in a perpetual cycle. “Edge Of Tomorrow” borrows this story-line but leans on the action concept, where, for a reason explained in the film (as not to spoil anything revelations) every time Cage (Cruise) is killed, he restarts the day, hence the tagline “Live. Die. Repeat.” Like I said, straight out of a ‘90s video game.
Along the way, Cage crosses paths with Master Sergeant Farrell Bartolome (Bill Paxton), the man that intends to make his life a living hell, day after same day, and eventually, the incomparable Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), who is the poster child for the war, having once shared the same power to relive the day as Cage. Looking to be in the best shape of her life, Emily Blunt is refreshing as Rita, giving off a powerful, leader quality that is needed from her in the role, as to guide the fish-out-of-water character played by Cruise. Sliding into the role like a glove, Tom Cruise fills his science fiction quota for the summer, coming off last year’s somewhat success, “Oblivion”. Transitioning from a weak, spineless nobody to a focused killing machine, Cruise seamlessly develops his character both physically and emotionally as the film progresses. Not until you look back and see how far his character has come, do you realize how brilliant Cruise’s performance is?
Aliens have never looked so cool. Whoever conceptualized these alien lifeforms for the film should receive a gold star for bringing new life to the image we associate with extraterrestrial beings, both in movement and in look. A mixture of animalistic monsters and constantly shifting electricity, the execution of the aliens visually helps to keep the film from feeling stale. Coupled with visual effects, the editing of the film is key to delivering a repetitive film that holds your attention. Mixing in elements of humor, editors James Herbert and Laura Jennings do a fantastic job of progressing the narrative while reminding the audience that these are the same days repeating themselves.
Beyond the sequels and tent-pole franchises, I am convinced that we receive one great original science fiction film every summer. “Oblivion” took the title last year, which also starred Cruise, while the year prior was won by Rian Johnson’s “Looper”, which also starred Blunt. With notable performances from both Cruise and Blunt and bringing rejuvenated life to the “Groundhog Day” concept as well as the alien invasion genre, “Edge Of Tomorrow” is this year’s best original science fiction film. Now if only I could disassociate this exceptional action film from the insurmountable hours of my childhood that were wasted repeating the same levels of the first Super Mario Bros video game.
June 6, 2014
“All You Need Is Kill”
by Hiroshi Sakurazaka
Warner Bros. Pictures
(for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and brief suggestive material)