Monday, June 9, 2014

The Cinema File #360: "Edge Of Tomorrow" Review


It's number #360, get it? It's like I'm looping back on myself. Yeah. That was planned as shit.

One of the downsides to being an amateur film critic is that I'm forced to wait until opening day to see the movies I review, not being privy to any special pre-showings that allow professionals to have an extra few days or more to formulate their opinions. Not only does this make it incumbent upon me to get out my review relatively quickly so that it remains relevant, but it also means that I tend to see the box office numbers before I start typing, and I can't help but let them inform my point of view. For instance, when a movie as good as Edge of Tomorrow financially fails so miserably for all the wrong reasons, its hard not to feel a little exasperated at the very audience I'm ostensibly trying to help. Perhaps even more so than a bad film that inexplicably does well, watching good movies go down in flames says something about the people who reject them, and the fact that this movie somehow failed to find an audience in a pop culture landscape for which there can be no better context for it says something awful indeed.


Edge of Tomorrow, regrettably changed from its original and much more awesome title All You Need Is Kill, follows Major William Cage, a cowardly P.R. flack for the U.S. army suddenly forced into battle against a deadly alien invasion, only to find himself looping back through time everytime the squid-like creatures, or his own comrades, take his life. Based on the Japanese novel with the cooler name, its just trippy enough as a premise without being too convoluted or inaccessable, at least with the convenience of having Groundhogs Day and maybe Starship Troopers to compare it to, but just having those references on hand should not diminish how refreshingly original this movie is. If you leave out comic book superhero movies, Edge of Tomorrow might just be the best sci-fi action movie since The Matrix, and while it is perhaps not quite as mind-blowing or genre defining as that modern-day classic, its at least as entertaining, and maybe even a little bit more fun for its overall lack of pretension.


If you'll forgive the unintentional pun, Edge of Tomorrow feels like a movie out of its time, and yet paradoxically perfect for today's audience. But for the budget, CGI polish, and noticeable lack of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead role, it could easily fit in with the best of the 80's that made names like Cameron and Verhoeven famous, balancing an unapologetically geeky premise with enough badassery to sway even the most simple minded viewer. In short, its got something for everyone without pandering or homogenizing its awesomeness to appeal to the lowest common denominator. It is the movie that old school and new school sci fi fans alike have been clamouring for for years, lamenting its absence without even knowing it every time a new reboot, remake, or rehash is thrown out to make a quick buck by exploiting our nostalgia. Not to mention, its considerably better than the last time we got time loops and Emily Blount in the same movie.


She's much better utilized here as well, but then, there really isn't a weak link among the actors. We get a nice motley crew of army grunts with just enough personality to make them interesting without overpowering the main story, and Bill Paxton is great as always in a familiar comic relief hardass role. Of course, at the end of the day, this is the Tom Cruise show, and frankly I don't care what legions of Internet trolls have to say about it, but that's almost never a bad thing. That this 50 year old actor not only looks 30 but manages to still be as charming as when he was in his 20's is a testament to the man's unflinching charisma. Unfortunately, a couple of years ago he jumped on a couch, and his faith is all different, so I guess none of that matters. All religions are creepy and evil. Literally just last week they found a mass grave of babies of unwed mothers behind an Irish Catholic church, but people don't lay that shit on Liam Neeson.  Not sure why Cruise can't catch a break, but I can't seem to do anything about it either.


Edge of Tomorrow might end up the most critically acclaimed box office bomb of 2014, its nearly unanimous positive reviews cold comfort against a financial performance almost certain to discourage similar movies like it being made in the future. Oh, we'll probably get something vaguely like it sooner rather than later, designed to appeal to the same audience but without the same commitment to establishing a solid story first before placating the dopes. It will be a more shallow, hollow, intellectually bankrupt affair, perhaps with Channing Tatum and his oh so popular biceps, maybe wearing pointy ears for some reason. In any case, it won't be as good as Edge of Tomorrow, because when they gave you a movie as good as Edge of Tomorrow, namely Edge of Tomorrow, you told it to go fuck itself in favor of some YA novel bullshit about cancer kids because Tom Cruise's personal life creeps you out. Good luck with those standards, and enjoy the unwatchable crap they bring you. I'm tired of making excuses for American movie going audiences. You don't see the right movies, they'll only keep giving you the wrong ones.

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