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The UnPopular Opinion: Edge of Tomorrow

09.24.2014

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

****SOME SPOILERS ENSUE****

It pains me to write this but I really did not like EDGE OF TOMORROW or LIVE DIE REPEAT or whatever the hell this movie is titled. From the trailers and critical reception, I was fully anticipating that EDGE OF TOMORROW was going to be a smart military science fiction movie chock full of original visuals and ideas. The time loop conceit seemed like it was going to be used to brilliant effect and tell a story we had not seen before. And EDGE OF TOMORROW did not disappoint from a visual front. It just has one of the most awfully written screenplays ever put to screen.

To start, no one in EDGE OF TOMORROW is likeable. Name any number of scifi war movies from ALIEN to STARSHIP TROOPERS and you have your fair share of characters you hate. You also have characters you hate that you learn to like and maybe even some likeable characters you begin to despise. In EDGE OF TOMORROW, everyone is an asshole and I didn't feel the least bit bad watching them bite the dust over and over. The comparisons between this film and GROUNDHOG DAY are very fair despite the fact that by the end of that comedy, you are rooting for Bill Murray and want to see everyone end up happy. Here, from the opening scene with Brendan Gleeson through meeting Bill Paxton and Emily Blunt, everyone is just awful.

I had the same expression after watching this movie.

But, as much as I liked Emily Blunt's character, she is brought down by the focus being put squarely on Tom Cruise's douchey Major William Cage. Cage is Cruise's single most unlikeable character in his entire career. Cruise has played a number of roles where the character has been just rotten, but you have come to like each one either through a change of personality or the purpose of the film. Be it THE COLOR OF MONEY, COLLATERAL, JERRY MAGUIRE, and MAGNOLIA, Cruise has done an admirable job of making you relate to the characters he plays. Here, Cage is just not a good person and no matter what happens to him, you never feel like he deserves to be the hero. Through the film, he seems aloof and unenthusiastic about saving the world, even as he develops feelings from Emily Blunt's Vrataski.

While the characters generally make the movie, I was still willing to give the movie the benefit of the doubt as it chugged along. I was hoping for a light at the end of the time loop, something that would make it click and show me why this movie was being lauded as such a great piece of entertainment. The best I can come up with is that our modern video game-centric culture exists in a mindset where "live, die, repeat" is a way of life. Your character in HALO or CALL OF DUTY bites the dust, you just continue and try again. EDGE OF TOMORROW is the cinematic equivalent of replaying a video game until you can successfully complete the level. And just like a video game, once you finish, you just move on to the next game without any lasting impact.

Over thirty years in Hollywood and this is the unfortunate film Cruise and Paxton share screen time in.

Visually, EDGE OF TOMORROW is excellent. I loved the design of the battle suits and how the soldiers used them during battle. The fact that this felt like where military technology may actually go within the next generation gave the film a little more connectivity rather than just being laser weapons and typical scifi weaponry. Doug Liman's approach to filming the battle scenes gave the film an immediacy missing in similarly themed films like Jonathan Liebesman's BATTLE: LOS ANGELES and even Neill Blomkamp's ELYSIUM. Still, I could not help but find the design of the alien creatures to be somewhat boring. Seeing them in motion was well executed from an effects perspective, but just the overall design seemed uninspired.

The fact that the screenplay comes from Christopher McQuarrie disappoints me greatly, especially in the third act of the film. With all of this awful characters with no conceivable motivation for their actions. Forget the fact that the film provides zero back story as to why the aliens are invading or why their weakness is something they wouldn't have thought about in advance so as to not bleed on their enemies lest they suddenly gain the power to live, die, and repeat. Also, forget the fact that the aliens all hide underground, therefore making it pretty obvious to know walking on the beach or land directly above them is pretty dumb. Completely ignore the fact that the movie wildly vacillates between a sense of humor and dour seriousness with no warning and sometimes within the same scene.

I would repeat this scene over and over.

I could spend this entire column nitpicking other elements of the movie that bothered me, but I could easily sum up my utter dissatisfaction with EDGE OF TOMORROW with two word: the ending. The elaborate concept of the Alpha and Omega and what Vrataski and Cage must do to save humanity is completely undermined by the poorly devised conclusion to the film. Ignoring the fact that the soldier characters in this film suddenly decide to believe that Cage has the power to save the world and sacrifice themselves on his word alone, but the final resolution doesn't even play by the same time loop rules the film devised for itself. There is a suspension of disbelief you need to accept for a movie like this to work at all, but this was just sloppy writing and execution.

EDGE OF TOMORROW has it's fair share of well shot scenes that work very well on their own. This is the perfect movie that you can flip on cable and enjoy for a few minutes here and there, but in the end it comes down to really being a collection of scenes that you can enjoy in isolation. GROUNDHOG DAY worked because each day had a unique element to it. EDGE OF TOMORROW truly feels like it is repeating itself for the duration of the film's running time rather than giving us the motivation to root for these dismal characters. This is one film that I will not be repeating.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to [email protected], spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!
Source: JoBlo.com

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