June 23rd, 2014

Penguin Beer

All You Need is To-morrow's Metal Suit



On Saturday, I went with parents and sister to see the new Tom Cruise movie. I asked my sister, "Is it the one where he's an agent of some kind, in the future, he's wanted by people in authority and he's alone?" I didn't find out until the closing credits rolled that the movie is called The Edge of To-morrow. It wasn't bad. It broadly combines some concepts--it might be described as Aliens meets Groundhog Day.

It's based on a manga called All You Need is Kill--I could tell watching the movie that it was based on some manga or anime. I thought maybe it was an adaptation of Battle Angel Alita after having gone through five or six stages of reconceptualising so I was surprised to read that Edge of To-morrow supposedly hews rather close to All You Need is Kill.

Action anime is a little more comfortable introducing world building ideas as peripheral things--like the battle suits in the movie and the aliens themselves--than movies from the west have traditionally been. If you have a movie with battle suits, the movie has to be about the battle suits, if you have a movie with aliens, the movie has to be about the aliens. Well, that's changed a bit in the past decade, largely because of Marvel's films.

Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt are both good in the movie and the portion of the film where Cruise's character slowly realises he repeats the day every time he dies has something of the same fun to it as Groundhog Day had. It allows for a character arc almost as extreme as Bill Murray's as Cruise's cowardly U.S. major gradually becomes a courageous, hardened soldier, largely with the help of Emily Blunt's character. The movie has been praised for the unconventional gender roles in having Blunt's character be the assertive action heroine leader to Cruise's awkward tag-along. But, really, what it works out to is that her character is a bit one dimensional--the noble warrior--lacking the layers of Sarah Connor or Ellen Ripley.

The last third of the film feels a bit thin and low stakes as characters are arranged to be in certain places more to capitalise on chemistry than because it actually makes sense for them to be there. But Cruise is still an engaging star and the Groundhog Day first portion of the film builds enough cache on his character's perspective you stay interested in what happens to him throughout the film.