Sunday, July 6, 2014

Summer Cinema: Edge of Tomorrow

Is it just me or has this summer been a touch lackluster?  Captain America: The Winter Soldier kicked things off in April but the season has brought us The Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Godzilla and then...I can't even remember.  I hadn't seen a new flick for a bit and Edge of Tomorrow was one that I had mixed feelings about but Tom Cruise usually isn't in bad or cheap flicks and it looked like it could be this year's Pacific Rim.  It wasn't a sequel or reboot but rather based on an obscure Manga from Japan by Hiroshi Sakurazaka I never read or have intention to.  I don't even know if it's even available in English.  Anyways, word of mouth was solid on the flick but it didn't set the domestic box office on fire in June but like Pacific Rim has been cleaning up overseas.  While it wasn't as fun an experience as Pac, Edge is definitely a big, well made, entertaining summer action sci-fi flick that should have done better in this climate of audiences allegedly tired of sequels and reboots yet shunning more original concepts then flocking to the latest Transformers flick.  Although Michael Bay and Marky Mark are the bomb.

Edge of Tomorrow is the story of media relations expert Bill Cage, a former ROTC member and ad agency guy until an alien war/invasion dried up all his business.  As Cage, Cruise is all smiles and smarmy charm in the opening minutes but is sent to the "supposed to be empty" front lines to help sell the invasion to the public.  In the future, troops wear suits of battle armor to enhance their strength and fire power.  Under trained and totally not prepared, Cage meets Bill Paxton's Sgt. Farrell and J Squad, a group of misfits assigned to protect the non soldier.  During the next day's attack, Cage kills an alien, dubbed mimics, but becomes caught in a time loop where he relives each day and must die to reset the clock.  Plastered all over the news and world is the face of Emily Blunt's Rita, a hero of a previous battle and dubbed The Angel of Verdun aka The Full Metal Bitch who carries around a giant sword to dispatch mimics.  Cage realizes Rita went through what he did but was thrown out of the time loop after not dying on a particular day.  Together they track down the origin of the alien menace and figure out a way to kill the the master which will wipe out the species.

Edge of Tomorrow is a big movie.  Big thrills, it's D-Day with aliens, drop ships, mech suits, creatures with big maws and swirling tendril limbs, excellent nice production value, lots of laughs and a dark sense of humor.  Given the time loop formula, Edge doesn't have an arc per se and gets episodic or vignette-ish with the learning to fight vignette, the getting to know Emily Blunt vignette and the how do we stop the aliens vignette so by the end I felt like the movie had stopped and started a little too much and I'd already gotten plenty of bang for my buck.  At just under 2 hours, the film feels a little long but not overlong.  Cruise looks great, he's aging but still handsome, charming and physical with great hair.  Bill "God" Paxton is terrific as Sgt. Farrell with his Kentucky accent, in your face but not obviously intimidating demeanor and reminds you a little bit of Apone from Aliens.  Blunt is her normal strong, stoic and attractive but not supposed to be bombshell self.  Go, The Bourne Identity and Mr. & Mrs. Smith director Doug Liman does an excellent job of combining practical and artificial elements to give us a more or less fast paced, fresh and funny summer flick where we can forgive some of the loose ends and just enjoy the ride.

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