Sunday, June 22, 2014

Movie Review: "Edge of Tomorrow"

Full Metal Groundhog Day.

Add Edge of Tomorrow to the list of excellent but underappreciated sci-fi movies.  It really should be doing much better at the box office than it currently is.  Combine an alien invasion with temporal anomalies, Tom Cruise in a redemptive role, Emily Blunt cast gloriously against type, and lots of things going kaboom, and you have one of the best non-franchise science fiction action flicks I've seen in a while.

The premise is pure Groundhog Day, the setting pure Independence Day:  Cruise is Major William Cage, a soldier who after a horrifying encounter with an "Alpha" alien on the battlefield finds that he has acquired the tentacled invaders' ability to manipulate time.  Now able to reset the day whenever he dies, he gains a brutal education in the attempt to find a way to defeat the aliens.  This is sheer video game (you learn more and get farther with every attempt, but every time you die you have to start at the beginning), but Edge of Tomorrow makes it work with clever editing, character development (!), convincing special effects, and a good supporting cast (especially Bill Paxton as Sergeant Farell, whose backwoods accent belies a singular way with words: "You're an American?" "No, sir, I'm from Kentucky").

Assorted thoughts: Maybe it's because I had only recently been thinking about D-Day, but I was absolutely fascinated by the idea of Forward Operating Base Heathrow and the human military's attempt to mount a massive invasion of the French beaches and from there to push back the alien horde that has already engulfed Europe (beginning with - yes - Germany).  I hope this isn't a spoiler, but ... There's an action sequence in Paris that is just gangbusters.  The Louvre has never been so exciting.

I would be remiss if I didn't point out Emily Blunt's excellent turn as Rita Vrataski (what a name), the tough-as-nails Special Forces warrior who helps Cage.  In my head Emily's always the hoopskirted lead of The Young Victoria (2009) and the actress in other roles (such as her turn in The Devil Wears Prada) that are as far as you can get from brutal sci fi battlefields filled with metal, fire, and whirling aliens.  As Rita, Emily Blunt is convincing, riveting, simply terrific: this is really her movie as much as it is Cruise's.  (The Cinema-Mad Sibling yelled, "Cast her as Wonder Woman!  NOW!")

Mad Minerva gives Edge of Tomorrow a grade of A.  I personally liked it a lot better than Cruise's slow-moving sci fi attempt from last yearEdge of Tomorrow brings the action along with an unexpected sense of humor.  Besides, how can you go wrong with a kick-ass character called both "the Angel of Verdun" and "Full Metal Bitch," right?

RottenTomatoes gives the movie the bona fide Fresh rating of 90%.

Edge of Tomorrow runs 113 minutes and is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and alien violence, some language, and a bit of nudity.

One more thing: the source of this flick is a 2004 Japanese novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka called All You Need Is Kill.  Part of me wishes that the moviemakers had kept the title, as Engrishy as it is! 

Here's the trailer:

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