Saturday, June 7, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow 3D review

I think I'm been here before when writing this review of Edge of Tomorrow If you're going to see this film, you'll have to accept its time travel rules. Hold on. I have written that line before. I said the same thing about last month's X-Men: Days Future Past.

It's the near future. Aliens known as Mimics have invaded earth. They're winning due to advanced technology. Mankind has created exoskeletons that give the wearer super human strength. These exoskeletons can turn any man into a super soldier. Soldier Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) leads the United Defense Force, mankind's military to defeat the aliens, to victory at Verdun. The UDF has planned a major invasion to oust the aliens in France ala D-Day in World War II. They plan to send Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) to document the events for public relations reasons. He's a coward and tries to blackmail the commanding general. He's arrested and placed in a squad of misfits to lead the attack. This squad is basically going to be cannon fodder.

During the landing, members of Cage's squad are killed. He meets Vrataski who is killed by an explosion. In a fight for survival, Cage kills a Mimic known as an Alpha. It bleeds on him as he dies. Cage awakens to find he has been sent back into time right before his deployment into battle. Cage continues to relive the battle in different iterations. Each time he dies but is sent back to the same place in time. During one such time journey, Vrataski tells Cage to find her when he wakes up. He does in one time loop and she explains how the Mimics are winning the war. They can manipulate time so they can anticipate what the humans can do. The aliens blood has given Cage the power to relive the invasion over and over again. She knows this because she had the power but lost it due to a blood transfusion.

Edge of Tomorrow is Groundhog Day (1993) in a science fiction setting. Cage is stuck in a time loop. But unlike Groundhog Day, science fiction demands some type of science otherwise we're dealing with fantasy. You can forget that. Because like the aforementioned X-Men: Days of Future Past, you've got to accept the movie's time travel rules. That's because once again, we're confronted with the grandfather paradox. If the Mimics can reset time, then the future must exist. They can't erase a human victory on the battlefield and then travel back to the past. You see a human victory had to exist for them to reset.

The problem with this movie is that the screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth don't care about any logical inconsistencies in the movie. In fact they don't care much who the Mimics are. During a scene with Cage, he overhears a London conversation in a bar where the patrons discuss the why the Mimics are here. Cage interrupts them and says it doesn't matter. Yep, the writers have just told you to not to think. Maybe they should just have Basil Exposition, address the audience as he did in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) and say "I suggest you don't worry about this sort of thing and just enjoy yourself. That goes for you all too." Hold on. I've just posted the same Austin Powers video over again.

Anyway, the writers do have some fun with the time loop plot device. They milk it for some nice comic moments.

Doug Liman's (The Bourne Identity)direction is solid. He knows how to stage the action and there's little wasted time in the movie. Maybe, he's too concerned with the time loop gimmick as we are given only fleeting glimpses of the lives of Vrataski and Cage. My gripes are the overuse of fast cutting and frenetic use of the camera. It can be confusing visually and takes away from the drama.

As expected, if he writers are going to take away from the "science' details of the movie, they also hand the actors with very little to say to define their characters. But I have to commend Tom Cruise as Cage and Emily Blunt as Vrataski for making the most out of their characters. We see Cage grow from cowarice, to confusion, despair and finally to courage. Emily Blunt is more magnetic than Cruise, if that is possible. She's lovely but not in a supermodel way. She's sexy. And she is smart and kicks ass. She makes it easy for Cruise's character to fall in love with her.

If you see this movie, skip the 3D version. First, it's a conversion from 2D. That means no pop, and very little depth. It's also too dark. After comparing the trailer screen shots with the 3D version, I can tell you that you're going to miss a lot of the light in a scene if you watch this in 3D. Plus there's nothing special about this movie in 3D. Save your money.

If you want to see a time loop story handled well, watch Star Trek: The Next Generation's episode Cause and Effect. Yeah, there's some technobable but at least they try to explain things in a scientific way. And it's still entertaining. The Edge of Tomorrow is an enjoyable science fiction movie that asks you not to think too much. The grade is B.

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