This summer marked one of the worst domestic box office performances in years – and even films that scored well with critics had a struggle to maintain strong legs, commercially. Case in point: Edge of Tomorrow, which was released to rave reviews this past June, with many praising Doug Liman’s latest for being an entertaining thrill-ride that represents what audiences love to see at the multiplex.
As many know, Edge couldn’t translate its strong word-of-mouth into hefty domestic profits, finishing in second during its opening weekend before engaging on a long, slow crawl to $100 million domestically (near $370 million worldwide). Whether you chalk up its performance to the waning star power of Tom Cruise or a poor marketing campaign (Warner Bros. still doesn’t know what to call the film), those who did see it are in agreement that it should have made more in domestic earnings during its theatrical run.
With Edge of Tomorrow hitting Blu-ray October 7 (it’s already available on digital streaming and On Demand), we’re among the many hoping that the flick can find new life on home media. That’s why we’re presenting 5 Reasons to see Edge of Tomorrow (if you haven’t yet) in hopes of encouraging more film fans to check out one of the better offerings from summer 2014.
5. The Script
It’s not every day you can say that one of the strongest aspects of a summer genre picture is its writing, but the screenplay is one of the elements that helped endear Edge to audiences. Writers Jez & John-Henry Butterworth, along with Oscar-winner Christopher McQuarrie, had barrels of fun with the film’s premise to craft a narrative that was loaded with dark humor and high-stakes (with a third act twist) to keep us on the edge of our seats.
Usually, when someone says that a big-budget film reminded them of a video game, it’s not meant to be a compliment; but this is a case where that analogy works to great results. It’s easy for the audience to get frustrated with Bill Cage (Cruise) along his hundreds (thousands?) of deaths, because the screenplay gave us strong characters to care about, clear character motivations, and plenty of laughs to keep us invested in the war between humans and aliens. It’s been a while since a screenplay this inventive appeared during the summer.
4. The Cast
Cruise is an easy target thanks to his personal life choices, but the man is a damn good actor who knows how to deliver in any role. Edge is a great showcase for his impressive range, as he starts out as a cowardly PR official running away from combat and ends up as a hardened, battle-weary warrior. Plus, the movie’s tone allowed him to flex his comedic muscles, as he injected some levity into the “live, die, repeat” nature of the narrative.
We’d be remiss to not mention Cruise’s co-stars, as well. Emily Blunt completely earned the title of the “Full Metal Bitch,” giving us one of the greatest sci-fi heroines this side of Ellen Ripley. Blunt continued her reinvention from Looper and proved that she can carry an action film by giving Rita the right amount of tenacity and vulnerability. Bill Paxton was terrific as well, using his natural comedy gifts to make Sgt. Farrell one of the funniest characters in the film. Is he American or is he from Kentucky?
3. The Visual Design
When Doug Liman broke out with the 1996 Vince Vaughn/Jon Favreau comedy Swingers, many felt he had a knack for filmmaking, but few would have predicted a future as an action director. Well, Liman has made a name for himself in this genre, laying out the blueprint for Paul Greengrass in The Bourne Identity and introducing the world to “Bradgelina” with Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
The director really upped his game when he took on the effects-heavy Edge, which is different from most of his filmography. He displayed tremendous vision by making the battle sequences feel harrowing and cinematic – a result of his decision to blend practical and digital effects. It’s hard to tell where the green screen begins, which made everything fantastical feel more real.
Sci-fi fans have already seen iconic creatures like the Xenomorphs and the Predator, so Liman had quite the bar to clear when he showed off his “Mimics”; however, he was successful with this aspect as well. Their unique design made them a terrifying force of nature; capable of wiping out entire squads of soldiers in a single blow with their mastery of military combat formations.
2. The Premise & Themes
From the first teaser trailer, audiences made note of how Edge of Tomorrow resembled classic works like Aliens and Groundhog Day, both in its composition and central plot device. Some may view that as being derivative, but Liman and his writers handled the premise in such a way that the film stands on its own merits, instead of relying on nostalgia for other movies.
“Live, die, repeat” was a catchy tagline to help the film stand out, but there’s much more to it than repeating the same day over and over again. The overused alien invasion storyline given new life with the creativity displayed by the Mimics and their biology – and Liman uses it as a backdrop to tell a very human story. In the end, it’s all about self-sacrifice and doing what’s necessary to help others, which is deeper than what we were originally expecting.
1. Thought-Provoking Aftermath
Not to get into any spoilers here (since we’re trying to sell this film to those who haven’t seen it), but Edge features one of those conclusions that leaves the audience talking when the credits start to role. It may not have broke into the zeitgeist in the way the endings for The Sixth Sense or Inception did, but it still provided moviegoers with ample opportunities for an interesting conversation.
As readers of our ending explained post will know, there are multiple interpretations for what could have happened in the third act, which gives the film another layer that makes it go beyond being a piece of popcorn entertainment. All good movies have something that makes them stick in our minds, and the somewhat divisive finale for Edge is what made it memorable. If nothing else, people should check it out to see what all the fuss was about a few months back, and to see where they fall on the spectrum.
It may not have broken the bank like Guardians of the Galaxy, but Edge of Tomorrow earned its place alongside James Gunn’s space opera as a cinematic bright spot in 2014. It’s a shame that it couldn’t parlay its favorable response into bigger domestic numbers, but now that it’s available on multiple platforms, maybe it can join the ranks of box office strugglers that were rejuvenated on home video.
Of course, our list is not meant to be all-inclusive, so be sure to let us know what some of your reasons for seeing the movie are in the comments section below. And if you haven’t seen the film yet, do you plan on picking it up either on Blu-ray or digital or do you still need convincing?
Edge of Tomorrow comes out on Blu-ray October 7. It is available on digital now.
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisAgar90.