Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

June 26, 2014

Movie Boys: The Edge of Tomorrow

By Andy Stuckey and Ryan Maddux
Greensburg Daily News

---- — First order of business today is to congratulate Andy and Elizabeth and the birth of their son, Felix Stuckey, earlier this past week. Everyone is doing fine. So, obviously, with Andy handling his newfound duties of being a father, I’ll be flying solo this week.

Although it’s been out for a number of weeks, I wanted to take a look at Tom Cruise’s latest action vehicle, Edge of Tomorrow (PG-13). In the not-so-distant future Cruise stars as a military officer caught in a time-distortion where he awakens every morning on the eve of a military invasion against an inter-dimensional alien race. He’s the only one cognizant of making new memories of him reliving every day. Emily Blunt, Brendan Gleeson and Bill Paxton costar in the film. Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) directs.

Ryan: Edge of Tomorrow is a (mostly) terrific summer sci-fi blockbuster. The reviews for the film have been extremely positive (Metacritic score of 71, Rotten Tomatoes score of 90% of and an IMDB user rating of 8.2). I don’t think the film is quite that good but it’s certainly better than how it’s been under-performing at the box-office. It is a film with good special effects and an intriguing story with a witty screenplay. It really has the tone that I would guess most moviegoers want from a summer blockbuster. And Cruise is great in the film. This is a vehicle perfectly suited for him and his on-screen movie-star persona. I know his reputation hasn’t fully recovered from his couch-jumping days but I still find him (and most of his films) noteworthy. Edge of Tomorrow is the type of popcorn film that one pines for when summer rolls around.

Now with that said, I think I’m more fascinated with why this film failed to strike a chord with most summer moviegoers. The movie is based on a Japanese light novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. So technically it is not a wholly original idea but for the sake of argument I think it’s safe to assume that most people have not read the obscure source material so we can presume that this is (mostly) an original concept. I bring this up because Edge of Tomorrow is packaged as a summer blockbuster of old—a genre vehicle for a “movie-star.” It’s not based on a pre-existing brand whether that’s a comic book, cartoon, video game or toy. So many of our summer blockbusters are based on pre-existing ideas that already have a built-in appeal. The top five highest grossing films so far this year (Lego, Winter Soldier, Days of Future Past, Spider-Man 2 and Godzilla) all fit that definition. Also adding to that narrative of Hollywood being unoriginal is the fact that three of them are sequels and one is a reboot. Everyone claims they want original films but when a studio delivers a good one nobody goes to watch it.

But it should also be pointed out that Warner Bros. (the studio producing the film) shares in the blame for the movie being a box-office disappointment. There’s absolutely no question that Edge of Tomorrow is one of the worst movie titles of all-time. It has all the trappings of being a title that was hatched in a boardroom. But then again other films have poor titles and they still succeed so it has to be something in conjunction with that.

Another issue with the marketing of the movie was addressing the “Groundhog Day” aspect to the story. I really got the impression that the powers-to-be behind the film didn’t know how to deal with the criticism that this was just “Groundhog Day” as a sci-fi action movie. There’s a lot of truth to that but instead of running away from that bit of criticism I believe they would have been better served embracing it. The Live. Die. Repeat tag line of the film accurately captures the video game-like structure of the movie. Edge of Tomorrow is like a real-life video game where the character keeps dying until he figures out how to traverse the conflict of the given environment. By fully embracing this concept I believe the film might have reached more of that coveted younger male demographic that makes these movies hits.

All-in-all Edge of Tomorrow is a quality sci-fi summer spectacle that is really only hindered by its own lack of awareness. Final grade: B.