Edge of Tomorrow

June 30, 2014

Well, that turned out to be a lot of fun!  Nicely done, everybody!  There’s an interesting subtext here about war, futility, and gaming — this felt like a video game:  dying, going back to start and playing forward with what you learned the last time.  But Cage only really gets anywhere when he stops playing that part of the game.

The thing that really won me over:  the main character, Cage, starts out being a complete asshole.  What this means is this is a redemption story, very straightforward.  But you know what I keep saying about the pleasures of a rote story, well told?  You don’t need bells and whistles and head scratching plot twists.  Tell me a solid story, tell it well, and the thing about this one is, Cage has to really work for his redemption.  Really work for it, so by the end it’s very clear he’s grown and learned and come out of this a completely, believably changed person.

I love all this because Hollywood doesn’t often give us such flawed heroes (I’m not talking about the “bad boy with a heart of gold” kind of character that usually gets passed off as a flawed hero, I’m talking the “asshole who usually gets his head bit off first in a Jurassic Park movie” kind of character), with such difficult roads to redemption, and whatever else happens, whatever other nits I could pick with this thing, that makes the film worthwhile.

And is the kickass woman character (yay, Emily Blunt!) just a prize for the hero?  No.  (Or at least, it’s really ambiguous.)  And isn’t that nice?

And now, a story that may or may not be relevant, but the movie reminded me of it so I’m going to tell you

Years ago — 1997 maybe? — Clancy Brown came to Starfest to promote Starship Troopers and I got see his talk.  He showed the proof-of-concept clip Veerhoven had put together, sixty seconds of pure brilliant awesome that left the room silent (and to this day I still mourn that the final product couldn’t replicate that sixty seconds), and talked some.  Then he opened the floor for questions, but he started by saying, very carefully and specifically, “Look, guys, I know you want to know about the power armor, but we weren’t able to do the power armor.  They just couldn’t figure out how to do it.  So please don’t ask me about the power armor.”

I think the very first question was asking how they were going to do the power armor.

Over the course of next half hour, four or so more people also asked about the power armor, and each time Clancy Brown patiently, but with obvious frustration, explained that no, there was no power armor, they couldn’t do the power armor, sorry.  And yet, people kept asking.

And that was the moment I knew Starship Troopers was going to be a terrible disappointment to a lot of people.

But that first battle drop scene in Edge of Tomorrow?  I kept thinking, that right there is the scene that all those people at that Clancy Brown talk really wanted to see.



4 Responses to “Edge of Tomorrow”

  1. Larry Lennhoff Says:

    I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I enjoyed All You Need is Kill – the novel on which the movie was based. It has been re-released as The Edge of Tomorrow, which may be confusing since it is not a movie adaptation – the main action still takes place in Japan, the hero is Japanese and not a jerk, etc.

  2. Carbonman Says:

    I hadn’t read the book and went into the theatre with no big expectations. We really enjoyed it and are both surprised it didn’t do better box office.
    Edge of Tomorrow was a better film than it was a novel. The movie ended on an upbeat while the book ended on a little bit of a sad note (and the war wasn’t ended).
    Emily Blunt knocked her role out of the park. She can probably now write her own ticket for any action movie she chooses.

  3. Tim Schmidt Says:

    One thing I particularly enjoyed was that although Cruz’s character eventually comes into his own he is never really Blunt’s equal.


  4. David Bowles Says:

    I always get a bit agitated when future weapons aren’t FUTURE enough. Like how US marines could easily take on most “future” infantry like Stormtroopers from Star Wars.

    Starship Troopers fit this trope to a “T” for me when they took out the power armor from the novels. Suddenly, nothing makes any sense. Why are they dropping in these people on foot to take on giant bugs? Well, in the books, they have jump armor with chain guns and nukes. In the movie, they are just victims on foot.

    Side note: I really liked the future sentinels from Days of Future Past. They really felt like a futuristic weapon system and were considerably more bad ass than the lame whatevers from space that Wheedon had in the Avengers.

    The T-800 is another excellent near-future weapon system that would absolutely dominate some sci-fi genres set further in the future.

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