Blu-ray Review: Edge Of Tomorrow (2014, Dir, Doug Liman)

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After Groundhog Day (1993) came out I was a little surprised that there weren’t more films made exploiting that particular time travel anomaly Bill Murray suffered from in that film. The only other movie I can recall that had a similar plot was 12:01 (1993), which came out the same year. Here we are in 2014 and there are two new movies I know of now using this concept, the soon to be released sex comedy, Premature (2014), where a kid ends up re-living the embarrassing day he lost his virginity over and over, and the movie I’m about to talk in depth about, the Tom Cruise/Emily Blunt sci-fi actioner, Edge Of Tomorrow, so it looks like everything about being trapped in a time loop is new again.

If you really want to get a quick feel of what Edge Of Tomorrow (based on the Japanese novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka.) is about think ‘Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers’ just not as violent since this movie is rated PG-13, nevertheless, there is still a harrowing tone which puts it right up to the edge of that R-rating.

Aliens have come to Earth in a meteor, crashing into Europe, and have been systematically wiping us humans out over there. Enter Major William Gage (Tom Cruise) a PR guy for the military who’s more adept at being on the news than on a battlefield, in fact, he’s never seen combat in his life. That changes when a General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) orders Gage to take a film crew into tomorrow’s assault on the beaches in France and document their battle with the aliens.

Gage tries everything to get out of it, but the moment he attempts to blackmail Brigham is when he makes his situation infinitely worse. Gage is placed under arrest. In desperation he tries to make a run for it but is summarily tasered into unconsciousness. When he wakes he’s at a base in Heathrow Airport and his confrontation with a Master Sergeant Farell (Bill Paxton) shows him just far up shit creek he’s put himself. Farell has been given a briefing about Gage that is all lies. Apparently, he’s been told Gage is a deserter and not to be trusted, and he’ll try and say anything to get out, and that Major’s uniform he’s wearing is part of the ruse.

Farell shoves him into the ranks of one of his squads and it’s clear no one cares about his well being and it’s clear to us viewers that when he goes into combat (in that exo-suit no one will teach him to operate) he’s a dead man walking. Which, come to think of it, is exactly what happens.

Gage is killed by one of the aliens, but not before he manages to blow the thing to smithereens. In the process he’s drenched with the alien’s toxic blue blood and in the next instant wakes back up at the very moment after he was tasered.

You see the aliens are managing to get the jump on us primates by being able to reset the day, to time travel back and do the day over and over again, anticipating our moves each time and overtaking us because they already know what we’re going to do.

Now Gage has this ability to but doesn’t get it fine tuned until he meets Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), incidentally on the same day he was killed. She was killed too but later on after he’s been “reset” she tells him about her own experiences with that particular species of alien Gage came into contact with, which explains why she’s such a legendary badass in the military. Exposure to its blood was how she and Gage got their ability, but she lost it once she was wounded and had a blood transplant.

Rita and Gage’s mission is to now find out where the alien stronghold is and destroy it. The aliens have a “hive mind mentality,” and killing that will kill them all. But as I mentioned Gage is not a soldier and in his current state hasn’t got a snowball’s chance in hell of combating the aliens much less storming their base and blowing it up. So, Rita trains him and every time he gets mortally or severely wounded during training, she simply pulls out her sidearm and puts a bullet in his head. Day reset. And with the knowledge he already has of the limited training he had, he can keep going getting better and better without really losing any “time.”.

Like Bill Murray from Groundhog Day, Gage ends up reliving that day so many times, though, the banal predictability of it all wears him down to the eventual point where we see him not really give a fuck. At least for that one particular reset, which actually does yield some results. He gets drunk, hits the battlefield in that condition and manages to make it all the way to where he thinks their base is, but he learns it’s all alien deception. He’s killed and tells Rita they’ve been deceiving him with those visions of their base. Where the real one resides is still a mystery.

On a very vague note the aliens, called Mimics, reminded me of the alien menace from Grabbers (2013) because like that thing these Mimics looked like nothing but a ball of whipping tentacles, other than that this was the first time in a long, long, long time Hollywood was able to create an alien life form that was, dare I say, somewhat original. And Mimics aren’t anything you want to tangle with. They’re split-second fast and can kill you before you even know what the hell is going on. Why they were called, Mimics, I never fully understood.

The exo-suits the soldiers wear and the drop ships used to drop them into combat gave me a definite Starship Troopers vibe. The exo-suits are bit like wearing a tank giving the user strength and an arsenal that you definitely need to combat the mimics. They look to be a bitch to walk in though, since most soldiers kind of plodded along but it appeared you could run in them if you knew how.

I’m not a Tom Cruise fan, but I have seen some of his movies, it’s just before now he’s never made one I ever wanted to see more than once. I know he’s delved into science fiction before with Minority Report (2002) and Oblivion (2013); I’ve seen the former and even though it was good it didn’t do anything for me, I’ve never seen the latter, nor do I have any desire to, with Edge Of Tomorrow, howeverCruise finally weaseled his way into my DVD/blu-ray collection and I suspect if he and Guillermo del Toro manage to make At The Mountains Of Madness, he’ll probably weasel his way into it a second time.

Emily Blunt is typically a hot chick, but she’s a little bit hotter in this one since she worked out for this role and you can see the results (see photo at top again). The only other film I have of her’s is that haunted road movie, Wind Chill (2007), which is the first time I had ever seen her. She was hot in that too.

Nice touch putting Gleeson (he’ll always be Sheriff Keogh from Lake Placid to me) and Paxton (Weird Science, Aliens and Near Dark) in this. Since I didn’t keep track of this movie at all this summer, I was pleasantly surprised to see those two actors pop up in it when I was watching it last night. I’ve always been a fan of Paxton. Near Dark (1987) I think is his best role.

Not too surprised this movie had an upbeat ending. That didn’t bother me, and I liked how they ended it, too, on Cruise breaking into a sudden laugh after meeting Rita yet again. Made perfect sense to me actually.

On October 7th Warner Brothers releases the movie in three separate editions: 3D Blu-ray/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy, Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy and a DVD/Digital Copy. The version I reviewed was the blu-ray from the middle edition.

Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 2.40:1 high definition widescreen—English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio/French 5.1 Dolby Digital /Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital /Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital/English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

I have nothing bad to say about the video or the audio.

Here’s the list of extras for the Blu-ray:

  • Storming the Beach (12 minutes)
  • Weapons of the Future (8 minutes)
  • Creatures Not of This World (6 minutes)
  • On the Edge with Doug Liman (43 minutes)
  • Deleted Scenes (8 minutes)

… and here are the extras you get on the DVD:

  • Weapons of the Future (8 minutes)
  • Creatures Not of This World (6 minutes)

The best one on here, unfortunatly for DVD player owners, is the blu-ray exclusive doc, On The Edge With Doug Liman. The other featurettes take portions of the interviews from it, but there are still some new things in them. Peppered with interviews with the cast and crew after the movie’s filming, you get a lot of on-set video of principal photography, which is always interesting to watch. What I came away with is that making a Tom Cruise action flick is exhausting. Of course, I always had the impression making movies in general is exhausting, but it seems especially so with a Cruise film since the guy has boundless energy, even at 50, and because of this they filmed seven days a week.

I was also somewhat taken aback by the revelation from Liman that it’s not uncommon to have a movie start filming without a finished script, which happened on Edge, in fact they were currently writing the final act while filming. And Liman had the story sort of plotted out in storyboards, but never had a script for it. He just had this idea for a movie and did that and wrote the characters in as the actors became available. Odd though how no one in any of the interviews commented on it’s supposed connection to the Japanese novel.

All the main actors are interviewed (i.e. Cruise, Blunt, Paxton) as well as some of the supporting cast from J-Squad. Brenden Gleeson didn’t seem to be available or he didn’t want to talk. Hard to tell which, but I like these kind of on-set docs and this one is a good one.

The other featurettes are pretty much self explanatory; you see how they filmed the beach scene, how they designed the futuristic weapons, how they conceived aliens, and you get to see the eight scenes that were deleted from the movie; some have unfinished effects.

I only managed to see two movies this past summer, Godzilla and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Edge Of Tomorrow was better than those two combined.Period.

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