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Friday, June 13, 2014

2014 Summer Movie Stomp Down: Edge of Tomorrow

It wouldn’t be summer without Tom Cruise running around firing future weapons willy-nilly.  And if Tom Cruise is on a screen somewhere battling invading alien scum, well, you better believe the Lawson Boys—what I call my dad and I in the father/son detective/adventure stories I plan to compile one day into a multiple volume series of novels for young adult readers and their moms—will be there to watch him: watch him blast armies of extraterrestrials into piles of goo; watch him romance ladies half his age; and watch him generally Cruise it up!  So, obviously, we saw Edge of Tomorrow.  Duh!  What do you take us for, a couple of doofs?!? 

As always, be on the lookout for spoilers.  I’m not saying there are any, but I’m not saying there aren’t.  You should approach all of these posts like you would a minefield.  Now, I know what you’re saying: “I would never approach a minefield.  It is guaranteed that I will not die by explosion if, when I come across the odd minefield here or there, I just stay out of it.  So, are you saying that I should simply avoid your Edge of Tomorrow review?  It kind of seems like that’s what you’re saying.” 

I’m not saying that (exactly), I’m just saying be careful.  Here, I’ll put it this way: Approach these Summer Movie Stomp Down posts like you would landmines in a minefield you are being forced at by gunpoint to approach and, then, stroll through. Better?  Good.

3 Sentence Plot Synopsis:  Major William Cage (Cruise) is an officer in the future army who has never seen combat and, quite frankly, doesn't want to.  After offending a higher-up, Cage is stripped of his rank and forced to take part in what amounts to a suicide mission against a horde of alien invaders known as Mimics.  After shooting and killing a particularly toothy Mimic with magical acid blood, Cage finds himself in a time loop that only decorated war hero, Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), can help him understand.

Stuff I Liked

Look, you can’t deny in the inherent likability of Tom Cruise.  I mean, you can if you want, but if you do, you’re an asshole. Yeah, I said it, and I stand by it.  From everything I’ve heard, Tom Cruise is a super nice, down-to-earth, cool dude, and I like that in my top-tier celebrities.  Doesn’t hurt that he’s a decent actor who usually chooses pretty solid projects (Have you seen Ghost Protocol yet?  If you haven’t, what exactly are you waiting for???).  And Tom Cruise has fun with his role in Edge of Tomorrow.  He doesn’t start off as the rugged-but-twinkly-smiled action hero we’ve all come to know and love over the years as the film opens, in fact, his character is kind of a pissy little slimeball who is mostly a coward.  His transformation from smarmy talking head to battle-hardened alien ass-kicker is believable and a lot of fun to watch.  And always with that twinkly smile.  Swoon.

Co-lead, Emily Blunt, is also fantastic as Rita (The Angel of Verdun/The Full Metal Bitch), a sword wielding war hero who trains and repeatedly murders Cruise in the pursuit of saving the world from annilhalation.  And Bill Paxton as the platoon leader/Southern-fried comic relief is great too.

A sci-fi movie can be ruined by crappy looking aliens.  I am happy to report that Edge of Tomorrow does not have this problem.  I thought the Mimics, as they are known, looked, for lack of a better word, cool.  They kind of look like Koosh balls (I heard them compared to Koosh balls by Jeff Cannata of the /Filmcast and thought it was right on.) with gaping maws full of jagged teeth.  The way they move is interesting as well.  They kind of, um, jitter around like weird marionettes or stop motion creepies sped up to, like, 11.  They are very hard to get and keep a handle on, which is what makes them so menacing and difficult to engage in battle.

American moviegoers see three types of films: films based on comic books, films based on properties of which they are already aware and adaptations of young adult novel series.  Reboots fit in there somewhere, but that’s it.  If it’s an original property or based on something obscure, they ain’t having it.  That’s why last year’s Pacific Rim pretty much tanked when it made landfall on American soil.  “Sure it’s got giant robots fighting giant monsters and explosions and such, but answer me this: Are there any Transformers in it?  That’s what I thought.  No thank you!”  It’s infuriating! I’d guess that a lot of the people who constantly complain that Hollywood doesn’t put out anything original anymore, wouldn’t lay down any of their money to support something original anyway.  You’re the reason every other movie is a Spider-Man reboot, you dimwits! Now, please do not misunderstand: I love movies based on comic books, I’ve seen the first Transformers movie and I know better than to deny Twi-moms their sparkly vampire fix, but when something original comes out that’s as good as Edge of Tomorrow, you gotta check it out, otherwise not only will next summer be nothing but adaptations of cartoons from the late 80’s, 3rd tier comic book heroes and the Family Circus movie, but that’ll just be 2015 at the movies.  We won’t get our prestige pictures in December anymore, but rather a new slate of horror reboots and films based on board games.  Edge of Tomorrow is based on a novel, true, but it’s a novel I’d never heard of before this summer and I’d argue a lot of you hadn’t either.  It essentially did not exist, until it did, in wonderful movie form.

I like me a Doug Liman film, I really do.  And it’s been some time since he did one I enjoyed as much as Edge of Tomorrow.  What are some other Doug Liman films I've enjoyed over the years?  I'm glad you asked: Go, Swingers, The Bourne Identity, Fair Game.

Groundhog Day is one of my favorite movies of all-time, and Edge of Tomorrow is like Groundhog Day only with aliens, violence and a sword-wielding babe, so it’s pretty much perfect.  (Please forgive me for using the term “babe” so brazenly.  I was just trying to set a mood.) 

Stuff I Didn’t Like

The ending pretty much sucks.  First of all, it feels like a studio-enforced ending.  Second, it doesn’t make any sense.  I mean, sure, you have to accept a lot of science fictiony, time travely bullshit throughout Edge of Tomorrow’s runtime—science fiction, time travely bullshit I accepted readily and totally—but the ending simply doesn’t compute.  I think my dad said it best: “I really liked it.  I almost understood the whole thing.”  You and me both, Pops!

The title of Edge of Tomorrow’s source material is All You Need is Kill, which is such a better title, man!  In fact, I’m still convinced the first time I saw a trailer for this movie it was titled All You Need Is Kill.  Am I crazy?  Did I dream that?  Edge of Tomorrow is such a blah title.  It doesn’t mean anything.

I don’t like that none of you went to see it.  That’s kind of stuck in my craw at the moment.

Arbitrary Grade: A-

Edge of Tomorrow vs. Godzilla

Godzilla is a guy we all know and kinda like.  Hell, I’d trust Godzilla with my daughter.  If the wife and I made plans to go out, see a movie and eat a fancy dinner—were we ever so non-busy?  Sigh.—and Godzilla was the only available babysitter left on or whatever that thing is, I’d hire him.  The wife might balk, but I’d simply explain how Godzilla is a good guy at heart, a friend to mankind really, he’s just kinda big and sometimes that causes problems, like accidental skyscraper demolition and crowd-splatting.  But as upstanding a global citizen Godzilla is, the movie surrounding him is a straight up bore; in fact, the more I’ve reflected on Godzilla since seeing it last month, the less warm fuzzies I get.  It really was a boring movie full of dull people doing nothing much.

Edge of Tomorrow, on the other hand, is full of non-boring people doing awesome stuff.  Plus, it’s funny and designed explicitly to entertain an audience, rather than lull them to sleep for 80 minutes before jolting them rudely awake with 10 minutes of monster stomps and giant bug decapitations.  So far, this Stomp Down belongs to Edge of Tomorrow.  What do you got for me next, Summer?

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