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OCTOBER 7TH, 2014

EDGE OF TOMORROW // 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 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, were not as kind.

When you died in ‘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 own 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 monster 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 you 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.

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A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST // Seth MacFarlane set the bar high with his successful comedy “Ted”, reminding why “Family Guy” has been pushing the envelope for as long as it has. However, given the reins to produce his passion project, “A Million Ways To Die In The West”, a comedic period Western, MacFarlane falters, proving the same fifty-fifty hit-or-miss percentage that the jokes of his popular Fox series produces. The first mistake MacFarlane makes is starring lead in his own film. Do not get me wrong, it is nice to finally see the man behind the voice, but as sheep farmer Albert Stark, he sticks out like a sore thumb. Not only that, but the character is written as though he is from the future, with a self-aware point-of-view that does not fit the time period MacFarlane is trying to instill. Jokes like doctors killing more patients than they save and fashionable dresses of the time simulating a fat ass and how that is the meanest joke you could play on a black person feel more like modern day commentary than something someone from the period would even be able to notice. For every joke that does land, like the excitement over seeing a dollar or the fact that no one ever smiles in picture, there are a dozen that fall completely flat, which exist for cheap laughs or gross out humor.

What ends up feeling like a live action “Family Guy” episode, not even the big name cast can help save the film. Liam Neeson plays the baddie, Clinch Leatherwood, that has come to town for no apparent reason, often presented with too serious of a tone to match the rest of the film. Giovanni Ribisi and Sarah Silverman play couple Edward and Ruth, Albert’s best friends, who despite Ruth’s occupation as a whore are saving themselves for marriage. Amanda Seyfried plays Albert’s ex-girlfriend, who leaves him for mustache aficionado Foy (Neil Patrick Harris) who comes complete with a theme song. And Charlize Theron plays Anna, a newcomer to the town and a new love interest for Albert, who helps him on his path to finding his confidence. Despite often falling flat, “A Million Ways To Die In The West” is a solidly produced comedy, with epic Western shots and the aforementioned stellar cast. But without the strong lead to hold the film together and plenty of jokes that should simply have been left on the cutting room floor (which would have also helped with the overly long run-time of the film), MacFarlane proves that he should stay behind the camera and should probably stick to his talking raunchy teddy bear comedies.

New Releases
Black Nativity: Extended Musical Edition 2-denied2-small
Edge Of Tomorrow
Jack And The Cuckoo-Clock Heart 2-denied2-small
Million Dollar Arm
A Million Ways to Die in the West
Obvious Child
Sharknado 2: The Second One 2-denied2-small

TV Box Set

  • Adventure Time: Season Four
  • Almighty Johnsons: Season One
  • American Horror Story: Coven  
  • Bates Motel: Season Two  
  • Bionicle 3: Web of Shadows
  • China Beach: The Complete Series
  • Danny Phantom: Ghost Hunter
  • Duck Dynasty: Season Six
  • The Following: Season Two  
  • The Great Train Robbery: The Mini-Series
  • Hemlock Grove: Season One   
  • Houdini: The Mini-Series  
  • In the Flesh: Season Two
  • The Office: The Complete Series
  • Psych: The Complete Series
  • Republic of Doyle: Season Two
  • Rick and Morty: Season One
  • The Wonder Years: Season One  
  • Vikings: Season Two
Special Editions/Other Releases
  • 4 Minute Mile  2-denied2-small
  • Against the Wild
  • Alpha and Omega 2: A Howl-iday Adventure
  • Billion Dollar Brain
  • Choking Man
  • Christmas Bounty
  • Christmas Grace
  • The Class Of ’92
  • A Coffee in Berlin  2-denied2-small
  • Crimson Winter
  • A Dark Place Inside: The Evil Within
  • The Devil Incarnate
  • Doc Holliday’s Revenge
  • Dragonball Z: Battle Of The Gods  2-denied2-small
  • Dragonfyre
  • Englewood
  • The First Power
  • Flex Is Kings  2-denied2-small
  • Foreign Correspondent: Criterion
  • Godzilla Vs Biollante
  • Gordy
  • The Grand Seduction  
  • Inside (2014)
  • The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975)
  • Level Five  2-denied2-small
  • Life & Times of Grizzly Adams: Once Upon a Starry Night
  • The List (2014)
  • The Little Penguin: Pororo’s Racing Adventure
  • Love Covers All
  • Love Finds You In Sugarcreek
  • Mine Games
  • Mulholland Falls
  • My Dog the Champion
  • Night of the Hunted
  • A People Uncounted: The Untold Story of the Roma
  • Red House
  • Respect (2014)
  • School Dance   2-denied2-small
  • Sing Over Me
  • Sledge
  • Sleeping Beauty: Diamond Edition
  • Sons of Liberty
  • Still Life: A Three Pines Mystery
  • Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon  
  • Talk to the Dead
  • To Be Takei  
  • Toger and Me
  • Tom & Jerry: Santa’s Little Helpers
  • Topkapi
  • True Confessions
  • Viking Quest
  • When Calls the Heart: A Telling Silence
  • When Calls the Heart: Lost & Found
  • When Calls the Heart: The Dance
  • The Wild Thornberrys: Call Of The Wild
  • Winds of Change
  • Zombie Isle
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