Standing On The Edge Of Greatness – Edge Of Tomorrow (2014)

eot1The problem with Doug Liman‘s Edge of Tomorrow is not that it’s a bad movie. It’s not. I actually found myself thoroughly entertained by it throughout its entire running time, and I thought that the design for the alien invaders was especially striking. It does a really good job of taking its basic premise and carrying through on it providing a few really nice touches along the way.

Nor is the problem in that basic premise. If you’ve seen the trailer, then you know that what we’re dealing with here is basically, as it has been repeatedly summarized, “Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers“. And there’s a reason you keep hearing that. It’s because that’s what the movie is. Unfortunately, that’s also all it is.

Yeah, I know, I’m the guy who repeatedly defended Pacific Rim for delivering exactly what it promised – Giant Robots Beating the Heck out of Giant Critters. And yet here I am slamming Edge of Tomorrow for basically doing the same thing. The difference is that with Pacific Rim the whole point of the exercise was that sense of sheer spectacle, and unfortunately for Edge of Tomorrow, it doesn’t have that to build up to, so when it gets where its going, well, even though it is, for the charaters and the audience, the first time we’ve actually reached that part in the story, there’s really nothing new to see. There are no plot twists that haven’t been telegraphed from miles off, there is no new sense of wonder, there is nothing that the movie aspires to beyond its tagline of “Live, Die, Repeat”.

eot3I’m sure it’s been noted elsewhere that Edge of Tomorrow is really the perfect video game movie, since the entire premise is that all the hero has to do is die and he wakes up at the last savepoint and resumes with the knowledge that he gained last time around trying to make it further into the adventure before he dies again and once more wakes up where he was to try to make it a bit further. And there’s no problem with that at all – as long as one is satisfied with watching Tom Cruise play the game as opposed to actually playing it yourself.

eot2Again, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t dislike this movie at all, and found it had some nice entertaining touches along the way to its inevitable end. It’s one of those really almost-great movies that are perfect for a Summer afternoon when all you want to do is sit in a theater, eat some popcorn, and pass a couple of hours. And in a way, given the limitations of its premise, I think director Liman has done everything he can to bring us a perfectly good entertainment. (And honestly, the movie gains a couple of extra points for not being a number two or a prequel or anything like that.)

It’s just not one that I think I’ll ever, unlike its protagonist, see a need to repeat.

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