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.