Edge of Tomorrow
Of course there's the Groundhog Day comparison, but that's hardly helpful in gauging what this film would be like, more helpful would be Source Code. The idea was difficult to visualise, and going in I really had no idea how it was going to turn out.
The trailers had done a great job of selling me on it though. They were filled with amazing action and clever science fiction ideas, especially with the D-Day type landing, and both Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt looked good for their roles. Plus, and these are the most important names to remember, Christopher McQuarrie is involved in the screenplay and it's directed by Doug Liman.
A soldier fighting in a war with aliens finds himself caught in a time loop of his last day in the battle. Forced to go through the events of the same day, and being the only one with the knowledge of what happened the previous times, he finds he alone holds the fate of the human race.
The opening of Edge of Tomorrow gave me a bit of a surprise, I really wasn't expecting the way it began. Tom Cruise's character starts from a place that wasn't what I was expecting, but it turned out to be a great start to the character and provided a strong foundation for his development.
The character does develop well throughout the story, and we can see this through the repetitions of the day. It is a clever way to see the character taking different approaches to the same events, and how his own desire and will changes the more times he is faced with the seemingly impossible.
This is one of the strong aspects of the story and the concept, and I did find myself taken in by it. I genuinely thought that we would be beginning the story with a character in the midst of war, or just about to be sent off to war, and there wouldn't be a lot of depth or development to the character, but there is.
The other leading character doesn't have such development, in fact there's a deconstruction of the character through the film. As we see Cruise's character drop to the lowest point and build up, we see Emily Blunt's character take a reverse direction. Her character begins the strongest and is brought back from that strength as all the barriers she has put in place are slowly broken, however she comes striding back in the final act, stronger than she was before she let the barriers fall.
I do think Tom Cruise is good in the role and is convincing. I know people think he's always just Tom Cruise, and there are others that think his personal life and beliefs, however misdirected, overshadow his films, however I'm not completely among them. I think he's a great Hollywood star that's been getting better and better over the years and, despite his private life, he has delivered some strong roles and performances. Okay, he's no great character actor but he's from that mould of great Hollywood stars. Cruise is very strong here once again and does a great job of making you believe in him, sell you on the story, and forget that he's Tom Cruise, but despite all that he never overshadows Emily Blunt who is just as powerful and interesting a character on screen.
It could have been so easily for Emily Blunt's character to have been pushed to the side and written as another female foil for the male lead, but she isn't. While she doesn't get the screen time she deserves, her role is a good one. She plays a powerful role model, a very atypical female character, and she has some depth and complexities to her character that are slowly revealed through the repeating of the day. As the day progresses her hardened exterior is broken down and we start to see some of her character, just as we see Cruise's character start to build the opposite way, as he develops the strength that she began the film with.
The more you think about her character the more attracted you are to it. While the male and female leads have good complimentary story arcs, it's the things that have made her develop the hard exterior you are drawn to, and yet aren't given. These moments are also revealed in a different time for the audience than for Cruise's character. You see while we are learning about her for the first time, we discover that this is his multiple time in the situation.
It's another strong aspect of the concept and the script that I really enjoyed. We're not tagging along in real time with the lead, we aren't always experiencing his day as his first experience, and as we progress through the day we're finding that this particular moment might be his first time, his second time, or some multiple attempt to make it work. In fact it comes to a point that you aren't sure which attempt he's on, and that works out perfectly for the story and the relationship between the two leads.
While I do really like the concept and I enjoyed how it was delivered though the storylines of these two characters, I did find that the longer I thought about the set-up the more I found gaps with it. For instance, if the power is with him now, what about the other blue creatures? Or, why didn't they just organise suicide soldiers to go after the blue creatures? You'll find the more you think about it the more questions arise and the more confused you become about it. My advice is not to over think it, and if you do, and you find holes that begin to open up around the film, then perhaps that's down to the difficulty of bringing such a complex concept from a book to the confines of a film, after all we can't keep repeating the same film until we get it right can we? Then again, this is Hollywood, the home of the remake.
There are other things to the film than the concept, plot and characters though. This is a big budget, science fiction action film after all, and that's reflected in the amazing effects. While I watched this in 3D and felt that most of the faster paced action moments were a little lost to the blur of 3D, it still looked fantastic and the slower speed shots managed to show off what spectacular effects are involved.
Not only are the creatures fantastically realised but they are also brought to the screen so vividly that you feel they are far more threatening than most science fiction aliens. It isn't just the creatures either, the whole landing sequence replayed again and again from different viewpoints is a centrepiece of the film's effects. The beach landing scenes are excellent and look frighteningly real, and the scene where Cruise's character's face is in close-up after his first fight with a blue creature is a great moment.
Something that doesn't though is the 3D. Once again this felt poorly done and in most scenes, where the action wasn't flying around the screen and blurring everything, it looked like cardboard cut outs separated in layers. Some early scenes in the offices seemed like Cruise and Brendan Gleeson's characters had been cut out and pulled to the front with everything else remaining as flat as a pancake. Once again I really wasn't impressed.
What was also a bit of a surprise for me about the film was the level of humour in it. Now we're not talking typical American comedy thrown in the middle of the film, but moments of genuine humour that came from the reality of the situation as well as the natural way of the characters. I thought this was another aspect of the strong scripting and showed a strong balance to show this kind of humour without losing grip of the main thread of the film.
There were a number of moments that made me laugh out loud with, or for, the characters, although there was a moment early on in the film when we first see Gleeson's character that I perhaps laughed when I wasn't supposed to. It was just seeing him appear in that news interview moment, the strange look on his face that seemed more in place in In Bruges, and the bad green screen outline behind him, it just made me snort out loud, I couldn't help it.
I do love the way the story plays out and even right up to almost the very end. The idea might feel a little like a videogame at times, and you might even pick some games to compare it with (yes, Gears of War) but it's still a great action, science fiction film. That is until the ultimate ending. Although it was one of those endings that fits the film, it just feels a little too cheesy and is chiefly responsible towards making you start questioning the time travel aspects. Frankly, I felt a little short changed at the end and would have liked something a little meatier.
That said, Edge of Tomorrow is a great action, science fiction film with a great central concept. It is brought to the screen with careful consideration for the script and about how to present the idea of repeating the same day without boring the audience or taking away from the core of the film. There are strong characters who develop well and connect together and with the audience, and there's also some humour thrown in, but always taking care not to detract from the core. Plus there are some good surprises and twists in there that you might not necessarily expect.
Despite the 3D element it is well filmed and the effects are excellent, the beach landing scenes in particular, and the audio really does feel powerful and engaging. Some of the impact scenes really managed to pack a punch and grab you through the screen.
The ultimate ending does lack a little and perhaps caters too much to the Hollywood friendly audience, but overall it does deliver very well. For science fiction/action with a strong story, and with interesting characters with higher than average depth, Edge of Tomorrow is well worth a visit.