What’s good, everyone? It’s Joshua Evo back again with another Summer movie review for our lovely Disk Read Error readers. Now considering that it’s me writing this, I know what most of you are thinking: “Really Joshua, how many times do you plan to write about and launch copious amounts of praise at Godzilla? Surely out of the summer 2014 movie line-up, there had to be SOMETHING else that got your attention?” Why yes, as a matter of fact, something else DID, and it did so in a big way. My friends, today I’ll be reviewing Edge of Tomorrow.
Way back in December of 2004, an author (and obvious video game/anime fan) Hiroshi Sakurazaka published a light novel titled ‘All You Need is Kill’ about a young recruit of the fictional United Defense Force (of UDF) named Keiji Kiriya and the Earth’s battle against the marauding alien creatures, known as ‘Mimics’. Without spoiling too much, during his first battle, Keiji is killed but becomes the victim of a strange phenomenon that causes him to relive that same day upon his subsequent deaths. Since he retains his memory as he continuously lives and dies during this seeming inescapable loop, he grows in skill and strength in battle and eventually crosses paths with highly decorated U.S. Special Forces office named Rita Vrataski. Fast forward to 2009, when the rights to the novel were bought and a preliminary screenplay was sold to Warner Bros. studios. Now, those details aside, this sounds like exactly the sort of story that yours truly would have purchased a copy of and read through a thousand times right? Nope. I was actually completely unaware of both Edge of Tomorrow AND All You Need is Kill until the Warner Bros. panel at Comic-Con 2013. Granted, I had gone to the panel (and camped out in the line 16 hours the night before) for a peek at the new Godzilla, but I decided to hang around and see what the other offerings from the studio would be. For the most part, it was mostly projects I was already aware of like The Seventh Son, 300: Rise of an Empire and The Lego Movie. Then when Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt took the stage and debuted the new trailer for Edge of Tomorrow (having recently had its name changed from the original title ‘All You Need is Kill’), I was both intrigued and hyped at both the premise and overall look of the film. Post Comic-Con, I followed the production news pretty closely, as I knew that EoT was going to have some stuff competition in the box office in the summer of 2014 and that being a non-sequel or remake, was a bit of a dark horse. The the movie was finally released on June 6, 2014 I went and saw it as soon as I possibly could, which ended up being June 8th, but still within the confines of opening weekend… and was quite happy to see that all the hype I had built up for it had been justified.
First off, there are some fairly apparent differences between the film and the light novel. The story is moved from Japan to continental Europe, and Keiji Kiriya is now William Cage (Cruise) and is significantly higher in rank at first, until some conceived decisions on his part get him railroaded into the UDF army. Rita Vrataski (Blunt) has also been altered from a U.S. Special Forces officer to an English-born Sergeant in the UDF. While these changes can seem a bit jarring, they’re necessary for localizing the film. One also can’t ignore the significance of the June 6th release date, as it is the 70th anniversary of D-Day, which people who have gone to see the film or just seen a trailer will instantly equate with the beach landing sequences. Cruise plays the hapless-to-heroic role of Cage brilliantly, and Emily Blunt’s action heroine debut as the sympathetic but war-hardened Rita Vrataski is just as on point. The supporting cast, is equally good, especially considering the amount of times they likely had to re-shoot the pivotal scenes with different results. Obviously, I can’t talk about Edge of Tomorrow (or pretty much ANY big-budget blockbuster nowadays) without touching on the special effects.
The powered exo-suits or ‘Jackets’ effects are phenomenal, largely in part to them being actual suits that the actors sported during production. Each suit weighed in excess of 80 lbs and took 30 minutes to get into and 30 minutes to get out of. In an interview with Ellen, Emily Blunt stated that she cried when she initially put it on. Blunt also says that she took on extensive physical training for the role to match Cruise’s penchant for doing his own stunts in his films. The training and excellent usage of practical effects really add to the combat scenes in the film, as the alien Mimics are entirely done via CGI, so it would have been a bit of huge overkill seeing both the Mimics and armored human combatants done digitally. Viewers may occasionally have trouble telling which end is the business end of a Mimic during the film, as their movements are really quite spastic and twitchy, but I personally feel that this only added to their menace, as obviously one of the more dangerous enemies one can encounter on the battlefield is whose movements can’t be read so easily. The cinematography is just as good (the opening sequence of Cage’s chopper landing in Trafalgar Square is particularly awesome) and the battle scenes on the beach really convey the sense of chaos that comes combat. The pacing of the film is well-executed, which can be somewhat challenging with regard to time travel stories and the tone of the movie deftly walks the line between serious action with subtle nuances of humor interspersed throughout The story itself holds up quite well, even if it is a departure from the original source material in a few ways, which makes sense as historically, Japanese written stories tend to have more than a few cultural references and that international audiences have a tough time relating to. That being said, Hiroshi Sakurazaka himself was quoted as saying that he was quite happy with the film, which only adds to the long list of things this movie has going for it.
So with all of this awesomeness behind it, you would think that Edge of Tomorrow is killing at the box office. Sadly, you would be wrong. As I said previously, this movie faced some very stiff competition from other summer movies and ended up only pulling in $26 million during its opening weekend. Additionally, there wasn’t too terribly much marketing for EoT outside of the occasional TV spot or movie trailer. At the time of this article’s writing, EoT has grossed $243 million worldwide, which isn’t too terribly bad, especially considering that it has not yet been released in Japan, where this story originated and also where Tom Cruise is so well-loved that he has his own national holiday. Hopefully, the July 6th Japanese release will give EoT the shot in the arm it deserves. EoT is also holding strong to its “Certified Fresh” status on Rotten Tomatoes so hopefully, word of mouth recommendations remain a strong factor in pulling in audiences. As for my personal verdict on the film? Well… I’ve gone to see it as many times as as I’ve gone to see Godzilla. That should be all I need to say right there.
— Evo out