Cinematic Releases: Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow: Live, Die, Respawn

"I'm sick of  you calling me short!!!
Give me a couch!"

Tom Cruise returns for his yearly summer sci-fi expedition and Edge of Tomorrow delivers the goods better than any of his recent endeavors. Director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) has made the perfect video game-to-movie translation ever, although there isn't a game with the same name on any console or PC.
That isn't meant to be a warning to serious movie goers. Edge of Tomorrow takes a lot of cues from the best video games out there, including Dark Souls, Titanfall, and Battlefield 4, to deliver the action from minute to minute. The story is some of the smartest sci-fi to be featured in a blockbuster Hollywood flick in a while, even though that's not saying much.
Aliens have come to Earth, and they're not here to discuss diplomatic relations. They have the upper hand in weaponry, technology and strategy. Cruise plays military officer William Cage, a non-combat veteran trying to make a meeting to discuss strategies about how to take down these bad boys before they make humans extinct. Next thing he knows, he's a grunt in a mechanized robot suit going on a fruitless mission to take out the aliens by force.
He's very confused, and when he dies minutes into the fight, he's only more confused when he wakes up right back where he started when the whole transformation took place. The comedy is light and well done in EoT. I took some personal glee in watching Tom Cruise repeatedly being treated like a noob maggot.
"So what you're saying is Scientology
isn't real? Say it isn't so!!!"
The cycle repeats itself, with Cruise getting a little better at fighting the impossible fight every time. The movie really takes off when he meets Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski, played by Emily Blunt. Cruise and Blunt have nearly perfect screen chemistry in this film; their exchanges never seem cheesy or forced, and neither character devolves into a stereotype trying to woo the other. These two mean business.
Vrataski is aware of what's going on for Cage. She knows that what he's going through is a training process of sorts, with every death adding something to his strategic toolbox for  dealing with the aliens. The reason given for Cage's special time looping situation is another example of good science fiction. It involves blood, but fortunately for us, it has nothing to do with his "midichlorian" count.
I don't want to belabor the point, but as much as sci-fi lovers will enjoy this movie, the video game geek in me loved it even more. I've lived the virtual experience of learning by dying in video games millions of times, and the process is brought to the big screen so effortlessly by this movie, it makes me wonder why video game movies tend to suck so very, very hard.
The aforementioned sci-fi lovers will probably get irked by the third act, as some of the themes that were so key to the first two-thirds of the movie go out the window in order to move the story along and add big action set pieces. I wasn't really bothered by it, but I was at the screening with some hardcore buffs of the genre who thought it took something important away from the continuity.
"Damn. I thought this was
War of the Worlds 2:
Electric Boogaloo!"
The action sequences are fun and thrilling, but Liman doesn't count on them too much to make this a very good film. I saw it in 3D, but I wouldn't recommend it for most people. I forgot I had the glasses on most of the time, as there were only a few brief flashes  that made them worth wearing. Save yourself three bucks a person and skip the 3D.
The editors get a special shout out for making sure that every scene was just the right length, and that the movie clocked in at just the right running time. I'm not a fan of filler material, even if it's a bunch of explosions. The editors for Edge of Tomorrow trimmed all the fat while leaving the juciest bits in for us to enjoy.
If you love science fiction, you really should check out Edge of Tomorrow. If you're looking for a straight-up action movie without a brain like Independence Day, you might be a little bit disappointed, but I still recommend seeing it in the theater. It's a sizzler.

- Tom McDaniel