My thoughts on the movie "The Edge of Tomorrow"
#1
I have to admit to some surprise that anyone would confuse "The Edge of Tomorrow" with "The Day after Tomorrow" simply because these two titles share only two words, but news media reports speculate that the title may have hurt the Tom Cruise movie ("The Edge of Tomorrow") at the box office this weekend.

I suspect the story is more complicated than that. "Maleficent" is by far the better movie but it's not a science fiction movie, so I think it's going to have more staying power. And although I have no interest in "The Fault in Our Stars" I have seen far more chatter about this movie over the past few months than I have about Tom Cruise's movie. I think it's safe to say that people talk more about Tom Cruise than they do his movies.

But science fiction movies in general don't seem to be doing very well over the past couple of years. I don't know if the genre is burning itself out or if the studios are just setting the bar too high. Not every movie can be "Avatar" and so they should not all try to be.

"The Edge of Tomorrow" has also been compared to "Groundhog Day" and there is certainly a justification for that comparison. But whereas "Groundhog Day" took some liberties with the concept of reliving the same day over again, "The Edge of Tomorrow" kept its humor subdued. The focus in this movie is actually on Story and Character, and that is somewhat unusual for a so-called "action flick". If you look at all the previews you won't get much of a sense of a love story developing amid all the explosions, but the movie takes the time to explore what happens to a person's feelings when they relive the same day over again.

At the beginning of the story Major Cage is a callous, unwilling soldier who has done everything he can to avoid going into battle. His real enemy is not himself, though; his real enemy is the stubbornness that is a basic part of human nature. Despite whatever changes he introduces into each day, the people around him remain stubbornly set in their ways -- or maybe we should say "in their own stories".

For only Major Cage's story can really change and he has to learn to find his way through a twisted maze of paradoxical logic. There is a lot of layman's science fiction theory flowing through this movie that they really don't get into. For example, the idea that Time is relative is only hinted at. We think of Time being relative to mass and energy but the movie plot suggests it may also be relative to an evolved biological center. This is completely implausible according to the Physics we know but the audience understands that we don't have to understand how or why it should work this way in order to accept that -- for Major Cage -- it does.

There are hints of a morality play in this story because we have a protagonist who not only undergoes personal growth through the events he experiences, he also learns that he has been given a special gift. At one point he abandons the path of "Do the Right Thing" (with the gift) and learns to his dismay that "with Great Power comes Great Responsibility".

What makes the story so interesting for me, though, is its unpredictability. You never know in each scene whether Tom Cruise is passing through for the first time or the 1,000th time. In fact, as with so many time-looping movies we are never told how often the same day is replayed again and again. All we know is that it's a very lonely experience even when you have someone beside you who literally understands what your'e going through.

It's the loneliness that forces you to make choices. You cannot simply walk away from what you're experiencing. Of course, the fact that an alien civilization is about to take over the entire planet also adds some constraints to individual action.

There is plenty of action. If you liked Starship Troopers you'll probably like the military tech in this movie. But I think it's also significant that they stage an invasion on the northern shores of France in a movie that was released over the D-Day weekend. That was no doubt an intentional alignment but I wonder why the connection was not played up. Maybe they didn't want to draw fire for playing that emotional card. I think maybe they should have. You won't get to open this movie again.

Brendan Gleeson (Mad-eye Moodie in the Harry Potter films) turns in a fine performance as a general who has to make hard choices (and he doesn't always make good choices). His is a minor character but he actually plays a pivotal role in the story. You don't learn the full significance of his part in the morality play until near the end of the movie. He's neither a good man nor a bad man. He's just a man stuck in his ways (in more than one way).

Bill Paxton is so over the top in this movie as the loveably unlikeable Sergeant Major Farrell that you almost look forward to his next appearance in what has to be a very challenging performance for all the actors who are set up to repeat the same lines in the same scenes over and over again. I think Paxton was perfect for this part.

I don't know enough about military details to nit-pick all the crazy things that go on in the ranks. It's typical militaristic science fiction as far as I am concerned, kind of white noise for me in terms of story-telling. You expect this kind of stuff from these kinds of characters.

My only complaint is that I don't really like the way the movie ends. It's a nice ending but I just don't feel fulfilled by it. On the other hand, it's quite open-ended and they don't even begin to touch on the possibilities as the last scene fades. But the human race is about to get an evolutionary lift that maybe it isn't ready for.
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My thoughts on the movie "The Edge of Tomorrow" - by Michael - June 8th, 2014, 07:41 PM

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