The Rules Recap:
For 2017, I’ve resolved to see twelve new-to-me spec fic movies in a no-doubt vain attempt at catching up with popular culture. One movie per month, the results of watching said movie discussed at the beginning of the next month. And I made myself some rules.
- It must be spec-fic. Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror. Even kid’s movies if they fit one of those genres!
- For the most part, the movie must be popular spec-fic. Something people around me have been talking about.
- I have to see at least a third of them in the theater, for the truest “in the moment” connection.
This month was Edge of Tomorrow. AKA Live. Die. Repeat. Apparently based on a light novel called All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. So hey, another movie based on a book.
Why I chose it: Because a friend of mine said I would like it, and he said it persuasively enough that I bought the movie when it came out on DVD, but never got around to unwrapping it from the plastic. Yeah, that happened. There’s a reason watching more movies is my resolution!
Why I didn’t go see it originally: I didn’t see much advertising for it. I never saw the trailer. How, I don’t know. Tom Cruise is not a must-see draw for me. He’s not a sticking point either. He’s movie-neutral. I may have just tuned the whole thing out.
Plus the poster had a strong Starship Troopers vibe, which I didn’t like much. It also reminded me of Battle: Los Angeles. And I’d recently seen Cruise in the Mission Impossible movies. Basically, I’m saying I didn’t see the advertising and even if I had, I would have thought been there, done that and passed.
What I think now that I’ve seen it:
A quick note.
I had entirely the wrong idea going in. I thought that this was a video game movie. Not in the sense of being based on a video game like Resident Evil, but that the mechanism for the characters’ “repeats” was something like that. Their brains constantly reloading into new suits. A mental reboot.
I did not expect Groundhog Day: Battle Edition. Which is probably good, because I would not have watched it. I’m not a fan of time travel movies (with a very few exceptions), and repeating day stories get very old very quickly.
So was Edge of Tomorrow a hit or miss?
The long answer: (spoilers included!)
There were a whole lot of things I liked a lot.
The aliens were beautiful and scary at once. Good use of CGI. They moved well, not at all like a regular monster. I feel like the filmmakers filmed a lot of octopus movement, then ran them at super fast speed to get the idea of how the mimics would move.
I thought the SF tech all looked instantly plausible. I never once questioned the suits, the drop ships, the fancy training grounds. It was a very good-looking movie, and until the end, managed to keep most of the action in daylight, which I appreciated.
I thought the dialogue was good; it resisted most of the cheesy one-liners that action movies love to trot out.
I loved the way they handled the oh look, here comes a white boy newbie to do what a trained woman couldn’t do issue. Where most movies trot out the he’s special/the chosen one/full of magical testosterone line, here it was really evident that Cage succeeds on Rita’s shoulders; she can explain what’s happening, give him a goal, and train him. It’s not that she’s incompetent, or that he’s better skilled. It’s purely a matter of him carrying the alien blood power that she lost through no fault of her own. He learns from her, beginning to end. She’s definitely his equal all the way through the movie, and that makes up for almost all the flaws.
I loved Rita. I liked that she started tough, stayed tough, and finished tough. A vivid character who might have been a little underdeveloped, but compared to the usual female sidekick? She was awesome.
The big flaw: The plot was a simple plot and did not need to be stretched out to nearly two hours. There was a moment in the middle where I thought I might literally die of boredom and had to stop the movie, just to shriek at how slow it was being in getting to the end.
There were very few twists to keep the momentum going. There’s only so long you can watch the hero die. It moves from affecting — the horror of battle — to slapstick — to plain repetitive.
The smaller flaws: I didn’t like the segment where he’s revealed to have been lying to her (to protect her). It feels wrong with the rest of the story line. I can understand someone wanting a loved one to survive, and to try to avoid their death, but… it’s awkward here, especially since the entire string of events is pointless after the single plot twist.
I really disliked the news babble intro and ending. I have a hard time with audio processing, so I put on subtitles, but they become gibberish in these situations.
I also didn’t like Army vs Science trope. I had a super hard time believing that a scientist who’d demonstrated understanding of the attacking alien culture would be shunted off to be a mechanic instead of part of an international think tank. There was no think tank. There seemed to be no thinking at all. Because Carter is the lone scientist who intuits how the attacking aliens work. Is that a TV trope? If not, it should be.
Give me a think tank of multiple minds researching, receiving data, and challenging each others’ theories, then I’ll believe that they’ve got more than wishful thinking behind their assertions. But that’s always a weakness in action SF movies. If the movie had been faster-paced, I wouldn’t have noticed. (As a side comment for us writers, let me point out that this movie is proof that lots of action doesn’t equal fast pace).
I didn’t feel sold on the ending. Time freaking travel. Killing an Alpha mimic once is good, because it allows the reset (controlled by the Omega to protect its Alpha?). Killing an Alpha twice is bad because it means that the Omega changes things up again, taking away their advantage. Noted.
Having your blood diluted with other human blood will also stop the resets because the Omega considers you part of the system as long as your blood is part Alpha. Though the Omega doesn’t like you, so it tries to lure you in to kill you. Killing you for realsies, no reset — by having its minions bleed you slowly out. Like that’s somehow different than dying from shrapnel or having a hole shot through your chest? I am dubious.
Moving past that. Killing the Omega will a) destroy all the mimics (convenient trope, that, though at least this one feels more plausible than the Chitauri in The Avengers) and b) stop the reset because the Omega’s controlling it. So Cage and Rita manage to get to the right moment and they kill the Omega, dying as they do so. Naturally, this pivotal moment happens in the dark. Filmmakers, I loathe you.
Anyway, the point being, the tentacular Omega gets killed, Cage is drowning and maybe injured (?) by an Alpha? Unclear, unclear, Will Robinson. There’s a lot of blue blood floating around (Omega blood? Alpha blood?) and Cage gets drenched in it, and….
And I’m lost.
He wakes up earlier than he did before, and there’s a frantic babble of news programs explaining that hey things are better. But the big final battle is still on?
So, I thought that the Omega died and all its mimics died, and Cage was the one in control: that he used the Omega blood to power a reversal so that his life would be back on track and he could save a lot of lives. Still don’t know why the battlefield drop would still be on, though, if all the mimics are dead.
But a friend says, no, that the Omega’s not dead, but it’s been frightened and is retreating, and that’s why the day reset. I’m not sure that makes sense either. The Omega’s response to a single Alpha being killed is to rearrange time to save it. Surely, it can do more to protect itself? I don’t know.
Am I glad I watched it? Eh.
Short answer: There was just too damn much middle in the middle of this movie, and the good didn’t outweigh the fact that I would never ever have made it through the movie in the theaters. I liked Pacific Rim better.
Screencap credit to Screencapped.net