How does a film combine elements of science fiction and blockbusting action with the basic conceit of Harold Ramis’ comedy classic, Groundhog Day? That’s the most pressing question director Doug Liman has to answer with his latest film, Edge of Tomorrow, which adapts Japanese author Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s 2004 light novel All You Need is Kill. Harmonizing multiple genres can be enough of a challenge on its own, after all; that Liman’s borrowing from another source for his story presents a whole other hurdle for him to overcome.

The earliest glimpses viewers have gotten of Edge of Tomorrow don’t quite hint at how he’ll strike the right balance between each of the film’s disparate parts; the initial viral campaign, for example, only depicts the explosive chaos of the alien invasion that provides the central conflict here. The trailer, on the other hand, goes a bit deeper and suggests that there’s a very human narrative at Edge of Tomorrow‘s core. Even so, these promotional materials convey a very minimal sense of how all of these details ultimately cohere on the screen.

Fortunately, the folks over at Total Film have us all covered; after being treated to a twenty minute preview for Edge of Tomorrow, they’ve generously put pen to paper and shared their thoughts on the footage they got to see. They were also lucky enough to hear from Cruise through a pre-recorded video appearance, and from Liman himself, who attended the screening and let the TF crew pick his brain a bit once the lights went up. Put simply, the film sounds violent, dark, surprisingly funny, and pretty great overall.

If the premise of Edge of Tomorrow escapes you, it’s mostly straightforward. William Cage (Tom Cruise), a Lieutenant Colonel who has never seen a day of combat in his life, finds himself tossed into battle against the aforementioned alien interlopers, and dies within moments of touching down. Then something unexpected happens: he wakes up, alive, and at the start of his day before the fighting begins. He keeps on charging into combat, dying, and coming back, each time becoming a more proficient human weapon as he desperately tries to figure out a way to break the cycle and end the war.

Frankly, the descriptions of the clips offered give more reason to look forward to Edge of Tomorrow than any teasers or advance images ever could. If the film even lives halfway up to the expectations set here, it could end up being something special; the impression given is that Liman has done a great job synthesizing Groundhog Day‘s famous plot device with high-concept action, but also with great science fiction, including The Matrix, Aliens, and more contested entries in the genre, like 2012’s Looper.

Most of all, it seems that he’s managed to combine all of these influences and put his personal stamp on them to boot. Rather than just crib from other movies, he’s made a straight-up Doug Liman movie; not only does Edge of Tomorrow boast copious amounts of action (often quite graphic, according to TF), but there’s a sense of humor running through it, too, which just affirms what Bill Paxton told audiences at Comic-Con 2013 as regards the film’s comic inclinations.

Both the spectacle and the punchlines revolve around Cage, as well as his ally, Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), the one person who understands his time loop plight. She trains him, helping him improve as a warrior with every cycle of the timeline; Cage eventually becomes even more of a badass than her, though up until he attains that godlike status, he’s just fodder like the rest of his fellow soldiers. That’s where Edge of Tomorrow derives a good portion of its punchlines, at least based on the reactions to the admittedly brief preview.

We’ll see for sure whether the assorted clips Liman showcased for TF live up to their initial promise in three months, but for now, Edge of Tomorrow sounds like a really exciting picture, well worth the anticipation. Here’s hoping it doesn’t disappoint.

Edge of Tomorrow hits theaters on June 6th, 2014.

Source: Total Film