Saturday, February 23, 2019

SCI-FI WAR MOVIE: Edge of Tomorrow (2014)



                “Edge of Tomorrow” (also known as “Live. Die. Repeat”) was a Tom Cruise vehicle based on a Japanese novel entitled All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka.  The film adaptation has been described as a combination of “Groundhog Day” and “Starship Troopers”.  It was a moderate box office success, but a sequel is on the way.  It was nominated for Saturn Awards for Sci-Fi Film (losing to “Interstellar”), Director (Doug Liman), Actor (Cruise), Actress (Emily Blunt), and Writing.  It premiered on June 6, 2014 to promote comparisons to D-Day.

                The film opens with Earth in the midst of an alien invasion.  The mimics are extraterrestrials who want to exploit Earth’s resources.  They are a whirligig of tentacles and very nasty pieces of work.  As in most alien invasion movies, they are vastly superior to Earth forces.  It will take a miracle to beat them.  Cruise plays Maj. William Cage.  He is a PR expert for the United Defense Force.  When he is tasked to embed with the planned invasion of France to start the retaking of alien-occupied Europe, he points out to the commanding general (Brendan Gleeson) that he is a talker, not a fighter.  This gets him assigned to the first wave – as cannon fodder.  His new squad and Sergeant Farrell (Bill Pullman) do not welcome him as a game-changer and as all predict, he is killed almost immediately.  But in the blink of an eye, he has gone back in time 24 hours.  He repeats the day over and over with the same result, except that each of his deaths is different.  Naturally, he cannot convince his mates that he is in a time loop.  Grunts and gunnies are not noted for their cognitive imaginations.  He does end up encountering another looper, Sgt. Rita Vrataski (Blunt).  She is known as the “Angel of Verdun” for her heroics in battle there.  She is one bad-ass warrior.  The kind of female you only find in sci-fi movies.  Together they must save Earth by destroying the alien “brain”.

                “Edge of Tomorrow” is a very creative movie.  Of course, this is mostly to the credit of the novel, but the screenplay has done a good job adapting it and Liman has done an admirable job bringing it to the screen.  It is not without its clichés.  Farrell is a stereotype, although Pullman plays him with such swagger that he is the upper echelon of his type.  The squad is heterogeneous, but we don’t find out if any are from Brooklyn.  The movie is totally focused on Cage and Vrataski.  They are great characters.  Cage is a role tailored for Cruise. In other words, he is a cocky asshole.  Cruise did his own stunts and was very hands on in the script tweakings.  He insisted on added humor, which works well.  Blunt is amazing as a character that would give Ripley a run for her money.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with this trend of strong female warriors in sci-fi films.

                This is clearly a war movie.  Alien warriors face off against an army.  The aliens are reminiscent of the bugs in “Starship Troopers”.  They do not fire weapons, but they are intelligent.  They purposely lost at Verdun to lure the humans into a grand invasion.  That invasion is one of the great battle scenes.  It is amphibious, but the Higgins boats are airborne.  Cage’s craft is hit and they have to drop in chaos and into chaos.  It’s a slaughter.  The mimics are much more difficult to kill than the bugs in “Starship”.  The invasion scene is repeated with different deaths for Cage so it doesn’t get old.  This movie not only has a training montage, it has a Cage death montage.  The movie finishes with a behind the lines suicide mission to take out the command center.  This is another pulsating scene that is unfortunately marred by a sappy ending.  I did mention they are making a sequel, right?

                Visually the movie is excellent.  The CGI is top-notch.  The aliens are scary and intimidating.  Once again, as in all alien invasion movies, they are virtually unbeatable and it will take a miracle for a happy ending.  Cage and his mates are equipped with exoskeletons called Combat Jackets.  They allow the soldiers to run faster and jump higher.  They are the futuristic equivalents of PF Flyers.  Unfortunately, they provide little armored protection.  They are armed with a high caliber machine gun and a rocket launcher.  Vrataski prefers to use a sword because she’s a badass.  As usual for this type of movie, the UDF apparently has no artillery and there is no shore bombardment before the invasion.  Even more perplexing, there is no evidence that nukes have been used even though Europe has fallen and appears to be uninhabited.

                “Edge of Tomorrow” is one of the best sci-fi war movies.  Cruise and Blunt make a good team and their acting is excellent.  The role was perfect for Cruise and Blunt is a revelation as one of the great sci-fi war heroines.  The rest of the cast is supportive, if marginalized.  There is plenty of action for the war movie lover and the scenario and aliens are unique so it is not simply a WWII movie shifted to the future.

GRADE  =  A

 

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