Thursday, 6 November 2014

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Referred to originally as All You Need is Kill which was the title of the sci-fi novel this movie is adapted from. Since that title was poo-pooed by the vast majority despite it being the actual original title of the material...'Edge of Tomorrow' was thusly born which personally I think sounds like a tacky 70's sci-fi TV show or perhaps a Dr Who episode. Over time that too was also apparently poo-pooed by the vast majority, and so the movie has also come to be known as 'LIVE. DIE. REPEAT.' On reflection this is actually a solid title.

Now I don't know anything of the original source material so I can only go by what the movie presents to me naturally. Set in a near future where humans are at war with an alien race that is threatening to wipe us out for good...original much? So its business as usual for this sci-fi actioner, the clever twist being amongst the alien ranks are a special larger breed called Alpha's. These Alpha's have a unique genetic trait that when they get killed they somehow automatically respawn again at the beginning of their day, turning back the clock and reliving the day they died. This gives them an advantage in the war plus it opens up some pretty humongous questions about these creatures the fuck?! Do these things ever die then?? How does their blood even do this? and when Cruise gets infected with this gift do the other Alpha's lose it?

So first things first the film introduces us to the human element and Mr Cruise, I must say its very refreshing to see Cruise actually playing a cowardly whining desk jockey instead of some super wait. Although I still can't quite work out why exactly General Brendan Gleeson wants Cruise on the front line, merely to record the battle? anyone can do that. It also baffles me how Cruise is somehow dumped in with the grunts after being knocked out and no one seems to recognise him, its like he's a new recruit and no one has ever heard of him. I'm pretty sure in that situation some one would know of you or you'd be able to contact some one higher but anyway...I guess everyone was in on this dastardly plan to get Cruise in the thick of it.

The military side of things all seems very familiar truth be told, I dare not mention James Cameron's 'Aliens' all looks like James Cameron's 'Aliens'. Most of the technology feels very space Marine-esque with the obligatory predictable bunch of space Marine-esque tough nut characters all led by Bill Paxton as an aged Hudson. There's the tough as nails Latino looking female, the fat guy, the crazy-ass guy, the slightly clever guy, the token black guy and various other headcases...military unit 101. What I don't get is why the leading kickass female played by Blunt carries a bigass a world of huge guns and powered exoskeletons (with mightily powered shoulder cannons ala 'Predator') why would you need a sword? Sure it looks cool but it makes no sense. Oh and we see her small team of elite special ops fighters with her at one point. All looking very imposing with their helmets adorned with skull motifs...where the hell did they go??!!

Personally I thought the casting for the grunts was poor with all coming across as little more than stereotypical cliches portrayed badly. None are memorable with no standout lines or moments and they just looked like standard videogame fodder. This leads me to the aliens which again I didn't really like, why does everything these days have tentacles? These things merely came across as a big ball of spikes that zipped around like Sonic the Hedgehog, impossible to make out properly and unthreatening because they just look like blurs of tentacles. Oh and they have acid blood?? errrr...('Aliens'). I also found it hard to believe that the human military superiors refused to believe their leading scientist on the alien genetic makeup. This guy is there for that purpose and he knows what's going on but no one believes him...soooo what's the point in him being there?

Visually the film is pretty the first half hour whilst we see Cruise fighting on the beaches WWII style. Its all heavily influenced by the Normandy invasion of WWII (see 'Saving Private Ryan') with lots of mega sized vehicles coming out of the sea and the sky, troops storming the beach and being cut down easily, trench fighting, mighty explosions lifting waves of sand into the air etc...its very impressive and looks fantastic. Its also really fun to watch Cruise get killed time after time as he tries to navigate his way to certain people or locations trying to recall what to do and when. Hell...seeing Cruise die in a movie is unique in itself! Watching this character refine his skills and learning what to do and where to duck is actually really cool despite sounding dull, you kinda want more of that in the end. Once things start to move away from this scenario and the plot slowly progresses the movie does lose its exciting visual appeal and things become slightly mundane.

Things do get a tad slow towards the finale and the actual ending is also weak, it builds up so well but can't deliver in the end. Its a shame because the first half of the movie is really explosive, fast paced and wonderfully thrilling but its just falls away from the midway point. It also becomes typically daft after Cruise loses his special powers yet still manages to survive some incredible falls and situations, so in the end its back to the regular invincible superman Mr Cruise again.

At first I didn't realise it but upon reflection it dawned on me that this project is actually a very smart little videogame movie. The entire concept of dying and respawning straight away at a certain location or save point is of course a videogame concept. It does feel like your watching someone playing a new Xbox One (Playstation 4) shoot em up as they work their way through the levels. Personally I liked the first half, the build up is great but the pay off is meh. Casting was also mediocre in my humble opinion as no one really stands out in my mind and nothing is really memorable accept for seeing Cruise getting wiped off the board in a variety of ways (the hook). I can't help but feel the whole movie would have been even better had it been set in its native Japan with a slightly lesser known cast or at least not as big. That said its definitely a solid sci-fi action movie with a decent plot, I just feel it had the potential to be an outright classic but just swung and missed. On a final note the end credits music track is bloody awful.