Wednesday, June 11, 2014

What I Really Think: Edge of Tomorrow

(Spoilers ahead)

Edge of Tomorrow combines two plot types I’m a sucker for: the alien invasion and the time loop.  The resulting film does not disappoint on either front.  

There’s fundamental problem with the scale of alien invasions.  They typically present a threat to the entire world, require a huge fleet and vast armies.   Yet, a band of plucky heroes still must singlehandedly defeat the entire invasion force.  I liked Edge of Tomorrow’s approach.  The idea of the invasion force is really a single organism is interesting and plausible enough that I accept it.  Also the fact that the invasion was starting from a central point, and working its way out across land, rather than flying around on ships simplified things greatly as well.  Their mechanism for time looping works for me as well. I’m sure it’s full of holes, but it makes just enough sense for me to go with it.  Going into the movie you know you’re going to accept that part of it no matter what anyway.
Time loops are always an opportunity for comedy, and Edge of Tomorrow is no slouch.  The first third of the movie is full of dark humor as Tom Cruise’s character dies in a variety of ways.  But because of the time loop, the deaths have no real bite to them.  It felt like a cartoon in a good way.  It was a sort of deadly slapstick.  The film does settle down later and get more serious, the whole movie is not a laugh riot.  But it has enough humor to keep things from getting too dour.

It’s probably a bit much to call it a twist, but I like how the dam is a trap.  The shift in plot provides a refreshing change of pace.  Up to that point the movie had felt very linear and predictable.  But then the change-up gave the movie a second wind.  I think without the extra shift in direction I would’ve felt the movie was too short.  

I wasn’t a huge fan of the romance sub-plot.  It was pretty predictable.   I did like how it created a dilemma for him where she never survived past the helicopter.   I liked his realization that he doesn’t actually need to bring her at all, that he’s learned enough to do it alone. 

One thing I was curious about was how they were going to edit this together.  You don’t want to go through the details of every time loop.  But you do want to see some of the loops, to see the difference he makes.  I thought they struck a good balance.  They showed enough of certain events repeating different ways to scratch that itch, but not enough to wear become boring.  Sometimes they would skip ahead, showing him suddenly knowing exactly what to do for an extended period of time, indicating he had been through it many times.  The switch up once they get past the beach where it goes into an extended scene without loops provides a nice change of pace, and gives the audience a rest from seeing things over and over again.   It’s also fun to spot the hints that this isn’t actually the first time he’s done this.  In particular I like how he comments that sometimes he tells him things that she ordinarily wouldn’t, then later when she dies she tells him her middle name, which he had asked about earlier.  When she dies is when she talks, and it really puts the earlier scene in a different light once you realize that.  

I was disappointed when he lost the time loop abilities, but I understand why they did it.  It’s much more interesting in the finale if there’s actually something at stake.  They did kinda cop out with a happy ending with everything resetting to before anything happened, but with the alien still dead.  For some reason.  Not entirely sure how that worked, but could tell it was a bit of a cheat to get the happy ending.  

Overall, it’s a good movie that I really enjoyed watching.  Probably my second favorite after X-Men First Class this year, but it’s a close one.  I feel like I wouldn’t mind watching it again, which is rare for me.

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