Speculative Fiction Saturday: Edge of Tomorrow

Edge_of_Tomorrow_PosterOkay, last month, we did most of Miyazaki’s great anime films, and this month, we are going to do…the best of 2014 speculative fiction. Edge of Tomorrow was a film that I heard about one year before its release, and it was criticized as soon as the plot synopsis came out.

The premise is about a guy who lives the same day over and over. Yes, you have heard this plot before, and it was done very well with Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. In that movie, there wasn’t really an explanation why it was happening. Now I have heard that the late director Harold Ramis was supposed to put in a scene where Bill Murray’s character met a gypsy, but I’m very glad that was removed. In all honesty, what made Groundhog Day good was there wasn’t a physical explanation of the metaphysics involved.

I’ve heard a critic on the YouTube channel YMS (Your Movie Sucks) has stated that the less explanation of time travel principles, the better the movie is. This applies very well to Groundhog Day, and I am not sure how it applies to Edge of Tomorrow.

The film begins with a lot of random news footage about an alien invasion of Europe. Major William Cage, played by Tom Cruise, is on his way to London where Earth’s armies are all banding together for a major battle against the aliens known as the mimics. Now, Cage is essentially a public relations person for the military, but General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) wants to put Cage on the frontline. Cage doesn’t like that one bit, and tries bribe the General, which ends up with Cage waking up at a military base about to go into battle with the rest of the grunts at front-line infantry.

The film then becomes a mix of the D-Day scene from Saving Private Ryan, only the soldiers are wearing science-fiction armor from Aliens and Starship Troopers. I have to admit the opening is pretty intense, especially when the weird quadcopter that Cage is in crashes.

I’m not certain who designed the futuristic weaponry for this film, but it seems a bit too advanced for the future that this is. Edge of Tomorrow seems to imply that it takes place as if this alien invasion happened today, so naturally humanity had to build weapons like the ones in the film.

The aliens look like giant dogs cross with the aliens from Aliens, complete with weird tentacles. Unfortunately, the mimics don’t blend well with the film, but at least they look alien. Why are they called mimics? Doesn’t that name imply they are imitating something?

So in the film, Cage meets a mimic and destroys it with his shoulder missiles. Unfortunately, he dies in the process. Now, in context of the film, Cage’s blood mixes with the Alpha mimic, and this is the catalyst for the movie’s tagline. If you don’t know it, it is Life. Die. Repeat. So now Cage wakes up and has to life this day over and over, and every time he dies, he resets back to the beginning.

I already mentioned the review from YMS, and he points out a lot of logical flaws in this films. The issue is the explanation has to do with Cruise’s taking the blood of the alpha mimic, which apparently has the power to reset the day. The mimic has an omega which is kind of like a powerless queen bee, but he alpha is the chief drone that can kill itself to reset the day if the omega mimic is about to be killed.

From here, it is about Cage trying to get to where the omega is so he can kill it, and break the cycle. Of course, he has essentially infinite lives, so this film doesn’t exactly feel like there is any threat. After all, if he doesn’t succeed, so what? He can just try again. I don’t want to reveal too much about this film, but there does come a point where the stakes get raised.

On the whole, you just have to ignore the reason behind why the time travel loop occurs and just enjoy the film. Of course, the reason has to be done, otherwise this film would be just like Groundhog Day. As it is, it is a potent action film directed by Doug Liman, who is a very qualified action film director.

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