Edge of Tomorrow Blu-ray Review
Ever since the success of 1993’s GROUNDHOG DAY, starring Bill Murray, multiple genres of film have tried their hand at the “relive the same day” plot device. Most recently, science fiction has added a few additions to this sub genre’s library with 2011’s SOURCE CODE and 2014’s EDGE OF TOMORROW. Both of these films aimed to use the comedic scenario from GROUNDHOG DAY and install it into stories with much more serious tones and consequences for its characters, while using next-generation fictional science to explain the power behind the repeat-day phenomenon, rather than chalking it up to divine intervention.
Major William Cage (Tom Cruise, ROCK OF AGES), a former advertising executive, specializes in public relations for humanity’s United Defense Force that is battling an alien race called Mimics who have taken over most of Europe. Cage’s main purpose is to recruit more volunteers into the resistance, however, when General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson, HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE) orders him to cover a very large and dangerous offensive mission titled “Operation Downfall,” Cage cowers and blackmails the General in order to get out of the assignment. Arrested immediately, Cage wakes up to find himself busted down to the rank of Private and being deployed as combat soldier. During the battle, Cage tries to survive the best he can utilizing the “super soldier” exo-suit, which he has no idea how to operate, and inadvertently kills both himself and one of the Alpha Mimics whose blood gets into Cage’s system before he dies. Cage wakes up to find himself repeating the past day over again and, after several resurrections, elicits the help of Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt, LOOPER), the most decorated soldier in the United Defense Force, to try and help him unveil the nature behind this extraordinary paradox.
Tom Cruise has endured a slight dip in his career in the last 4-5 years, at least on a domestic level. Even if they’re considered “flops” here in the US, he remains a wildly huge superstar across the globe; even OBLIVION and JACK REACHER ended up north of $200 million worldwide. EDGE OF EXTINCTION can probably be filed right next to those aforementioned films as it exhibits the same level of par-for-the-course script writing, enhanced by very impressive special effects and Cruise’s always vastly underrated acting ability. Cruise, who once again does all his own stunts in this film, did not have to do all the heavy lifting on the thespian side, as a very solid supporting cast headed by Emily Blunt was able to keep the story from becoming stale as the scenes rehash themselves.
Director Doug Liman (THE BOURNE IDENTITY) has to be commended for taking a script that was literally rewritten only 6 months before filming started and executing an entertaining narrative about a WWII, D-Day type battle that repeats over and over again. Liman was able to alter scenes just enough so that the audience doesn’t get jaded by explosions and violence, and his direction for the characters within each timeline remained very unique while retaining their base attributes. The look of the film was also very grounded in reality with all the high tech gadgets and battle equipment representing very achievable real-world counterparts in our not-too-distant future. This facet was able to balance out the eccentrics of the extra terrestrial side of the story and kept the film from floating anywhere near STARSHIP TROOPER territory.
Unfortunately, what really inhibits EDGE OF TOMORROW from being a great piece of sci-fi is that it breaks the genre’s cardinal rule by not abiding or fully explaining the rules by which this world is set. Science fiction is not fantasy. The fantasy genre is allotted infinite more leeway in terms of detailed storytelling due to the incorporation of magic, however in science fiction when pivotal plot points are not thought out and simply left up to the viewer’s imagination, it comes off as an instant cop-out and greatly reduces the opacity of the intricate special effects and big-time movie stars acting as a shield for an overall weak script.
Video: 1080p/AVC MPEG-4, 2.40:1 Widescreen: During day scenes EDGE OF TOMORROW performs very much like you would think a standard, modern day, big budged sci-fi film would. The detail is great, the contrast pops and all the aliens and exo-suits come to life in 1080p. And then just as the story flips to night, everything spirals downward. The scenes become murky and contrast is extremely flat, making some of the characters hard to distinguish during the climax of the film. This is a very surprising and disappointing lack of attention to quality for such a big film.
Audio: Thai and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1: The audio track performs pretty well overall. Center channel dialogue is crisp and clear, which is easily drowned out in big action films, and effects do fill the room from all angles during the heavy battle scenes.
Operation Downfall (11 min): This featurette is split into 2 segments. The “Adrenaline Cut,” which is just the best segments of Cruise and Blunt taking out the Mimics during Operation Downfall sewn together, and “Storming the Beach,” an introspective on the inspiration for how Operation Downfall was contrived from WWII and a look into the storyboard and shooting process for what was the film’s most complicated and intricate scene.
Weapons of the Future (8 min): A special effects featurette on how the exo-suits were designed and created. An interesting 8 minutes to see how the actors had to literally wear the suits all day to get used to moving around in them and then figuring out what kind of stunts would even be possible.
Creatures Not of This World (5 min): A look into the design and computer graphics used to create the alien Mimics for the film. The crew explains the struggle to try and come up with something unique for the alien threat. I do not think they fully achieved this, but the thought process and the modeling for the creatures is interesting to watch.
On the Edge with Doug Liman (43 min): A mini documentary on director Doug Liman and his process filming EDGE OF TOMMORROW. For those that love to witness the creative process behind a film’s direction, this is a fantastic and unique piece. Usually these kinds of features are short and very polished with parroting the standard bits about how great everyone is on set. However, this is refreshingly honest and in-depth about how everyone is not always prepared, or agrees on exactly how to shoot the film.
Deleted Scenes (7 min): 7 deleted scenes that can be very safely skipped, as they offer zero insight into any character or story depth in the film.