Groundhog Day as a sci-fi flick was the impression I had when I first saw the trailers last year for Edge of Tomorrow, Tom Cruise’s new sci-fi adventure. The initial trailers didn’t catch my interest, but as I saw then more often I was drawn in further by the concept and by Emily Blunt’s character, Rita Vrataski. So when we had the chance to go see it on the 4th of July, we jumped on it.
Although I was interested, I ended up being pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed it. The film’s premise worked better than I expected, there was character development to match the storyline, and the special effects were vivid and convincing, making it worth seeing in theaters.
Although I loved Groundhog Day, I thought the premise seemed hokey for a sci-fi flick, especially since other films like Source Code had covered similar angles so well. As Cruise’s character, William Cage, navigates the day he’s in, the film covers different aspects and skips around chronologically. Some attempts are emotionally weighty while others are grimly comic – like montages of Cruise’s character dying and waking up over and over again. Ultimately, it strikes an uneasy balance between humor and suffering that keeps the film going despite it’s repetitive plot.
At the beginning of Edge of Tomorrow, Cage is a very unlikeable character, but throughout the movie he sheds his selfishness and fear to become self sacrificial and heroic. While it’s a simple character development arc, I was glad to see an action/adventure movie where the characters aren’t emotionally or morally static. Vrataski is a welcome change from what usually passes for bad-ass ladies in action stories – she’s neither half naked male wish fulfillment nor only a fighter because of past trauma. Her guardedness is natural for a soldier who’s fought in intense combat and has an unbelievable secret, and while her character doesn’t develop like Cage’s, we do see her change and can appreciate her as both a soldier and a person.
Finally, as everyone usually wants in this kind of movie – it’s visually exciting. The special effects and action sequences are varied and convincing, I really liked the premise behind and the design of the aliens, and the settings seemed thoughtful, not just an afterthought to the things that are exploding.
While it wasn’t a perfect film and aspects of the ending tested my suspension of disbelief, it was a great sci-fi adventure story with exciting visuals and a well-done leading lady. If you’ve been thinking about going to see it in theaters, consider this your push to go do so.