EDGE OF TOMORROW, Tom Cruise’s latest big budget Sci-fi spectacular had a lukewarm opening weekend, making just over $28m against a budget of $178m. This is, frankly, disastrous; and not just for the studio. When a film like EDGE OF TOMORROW tanks, it isn’t just bad for the people behind it, or the studios or ‘Hollywood’; it’s bad for us, the audience.
You hear, almost constantly nowadays, the near deafening chorus decrying reboots, remakes, sequels, prequels and all kinds of overblown trilogies and unnecessary side projects. But guess what, all these exploited franchises sell, they make money. When the studio decides to split the final book in a series into two parts, it isn’t an artistic decision; you need to keep that milk flowing, and if you’ve seen the first six HARRY POTTER’s, you’ll absolutely pay to see the last one cut into two, even if the first part is two hours of tedious filler. Complaining about ‘Bayformers’ is about as useful as disproving gravity whilst falling from the clouds without a parachute. It doesn’t matter how ‘right’ you might be, the ground is still rushing up at you at an uncomfortable pace. And the only real way to stem the flow of garbage is to demonstrate a market exists for smart, well made films, without any unnecessary sequelizing cliffhangers or an expensive line of toys or years of property exploitation on the back end. And EDGE OF TOMORROW was that film, and no one saw it.
Here is a film with a strong female character, a respectable internal logic, well shot, effecting combat scene’s, and a full arc for a fully developed character. It had some wonderful visuals, an interesting take on an alien invader a decent collection of supporting actors, with enough of a character to get stuck into you can feel for them and it didn’t use excessive filters, spinning camera trickery or bad editing. Here was a really terrific SF film, and if it passes unnoticed, if it flops, it might be a while before another one comes by.
And I don’t care what reasons people may have. You don’t like Tom Cruise? Guess what, if you like movies, you like Tom Cruise. You like big, ridiculous eighties style movies? TOP GUN; Smart SF thrillers? MINORITY REPORT, or WAR OF THE WORLDS; intelligent, high quality directors? MAGNOLIA, or EYES WIDE SHUT. Tough thrillers? COLLATERAL or JACK REACHER. Hell, you want a brilliant slapstick comedy performance? Les Grossman was THE best thing in TROPIC THUNDER. And I haven’t even scratched the surface. Tom Cruise is easily the best, most consistent, hardest working movie star in Hollywood, and if you’re put off by his personal life – what very little you actually know of it – then you aren’t really a movie fan, are you? Put the gossip rags away.
The trailer didn’t sell you on it? Really? I thought it was pretty good, but hey, so what. Why didn’t you just read the – multiple, excellent – reviews? And I take issue with that argument, too. The trailer set up the concept, without spoiling the whole damn movie. I though that was what we wanted? Trailers that don’t just outline the entire thing in one go? Because I promise you, there are numerous details, big and small, that the trailer never touches. People cannot be pleased.
There have, of course, been a number of films very similar to EDGE OF TOMORROW in the last few years, SF movies, all doing similar sorts of business; OBLIVION; ELYSIUM; JOHN CARTER; WATCHMEN – PACIFIC RIM - I could probably go on for a while. They still get, or got, made. They all did somewhat lukewarm business. I’m not going out to bat for them. But EDGE OF TOMORROW is different. for one thing, it deserves to be fought for.
I can’t say you are all fools for missing OBLIVION. I thought it was good, but I can appreciate why you might pass on it. It took a lot of older ideas and tropes and spun them together into a sort-of new idea, but not really. It was intensely pretty, but perhaps a little hollow in the end. A short story, with a big punchline and a clever ‘get-0ut’ for the Hollywood ending.
ELYSIUM, too, is not a film I’m going to die in a ditch over. Strong action sequences, and an old-school eighties vibe (That facial reconstruction!) did not wholly redeem it from a poor villain and a naive take on wealth inequality, along with some egregious logic holes. JOHN CARTER was good, but the film took too reverent approach to the material, and it suffered terribly from having been previously plundered by just about every space opera going, from STAR WARS to FLASH GORDON. The book may have been first, but the film was last and it’s pretty hard to come back from that. WATCHMEN was never going to be commercial. I’m just glad it was reasonably respectful of the source.
But EDGE OF TOMORROW; here is the film. This is where I’m prepared to draw the line. It has a massive, favorable critical consensus – 90% on rotten tomatoes is not nothing – along with strong audience approval with an 8.2 on imdb which is far better than any of those other films I’ve mentioned. So the people who’ve managed to see it, really like it. I saw it myself (in a half empty IMAX screen, in NYC, on the Saturday afternoon of release – I could weep) and it was excellent. Imaginative, smart, funny with some stunning sequences, both intense and exhilarating and a complex concept explained well. It’s a good film, goddammit, and if it falls by the wayside, it takes the chances of the next good film down with it.
And this is the most important point. If EDGE OF TOMORROW really does badly, there’s less chance you’ll get a smart, effective SF blockbuster again. If you want to see a film where people have put more thought into the script than they have into the inevitable toy line, go and see EDGE OF TOMORROW. If you want to see a film where the producers have spent more time scouting locations than they have scouting the flesh of their leading lady, go and see EDGE OF TOMORROW. If you want to see a film where the director has set out to create and realize their own vision and not just ape Michael Bay, go and see EDGE OF TOMORROW. Most importantly, if you really, really, do think big budget Hollywood is going down the pan and you’re quite sick of TRANSFORMERS, and paranormal teen romance drivel, and the latest pandering Mary-sue characters, shaky cam visuals where nothing can be made out, and films made for (and quite possibly by) twelve year olds with ADHD, and movies where the commercial tie-ins, toy-lines, video-games and product placement take up more time and money than the movie itself, for the love of god go see EDGE OF TOMORROW.
This is a great film, the kind of film we reminisce about when we think back to the one’s we really care about; the ALIENS, or PREDATORS; TERMINATOR’s and BACK TO THE FUTURES. It may not be the best of all time, but it’s getting up on the list, and you are going to miss it. Even worse, you’re going to reduce the chances for an even better film to follow it. If EDGE OF TOMORROW can’t make money at the box office, then you won’t get any more films like it. Just over-egged kids cartoons, and endless reinventions of existing properties. Remember that, when you suddenly find yourself watching a poor remake of THE AVENGERS in ten years time. When they announce TRANSFORMERS 5, with Jonathan Liebesman directing, and meanwhile Doug Liman can’t get a project off the ground. When TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES turns out to be execrable, and they greenlight the sequel the Monday after it’s released.
So, go see it. Tell people to go see it. Make a fuss. This is something worth fighting about, worth pushing for. And the next time you hear someone complain about the poor quality movies, the remakes, sequels etcetara and so on, ask them “Did you see EDGE OF TOMORROW?” and if they say no, do please let them know; they’re the problem, not the studios. The studios do make smart, original films for adults – they just released one. If adults don’t go see them, why should they keep bothering? So, please, see the damn film, tell other people to see the film. EDGE OF TOMORROW is all about second chances; lets give it one.
Captain Dan Porsa is a man of many interests, though few useful occupations. After some time in Her Majesty's Service, he is now living in New York. When he finds time away from his primary role as governor of two small dogs, he enjoys films, books, exercise and intermittently writing short fiction. As an Englishman, he finds his opinion is taken very seriously on all matters, except food and coffee; ironically, these are often the only things he is right about.
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