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Edge of Tomorrow: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

Edge of Tomorrow (2014) movie poster Edge of Tomorrow

Theatrical Release: June 6, 2014 / Running Time: 113 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Doug Liman / Writers: Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth (screenplay); Hiroshi Sakurazaka (novel All You Need Is Kill)

Cast: Tom Cruise (Major William Cage), Emily Blunt (Sergeant Rita Vrataski), Brendan Gleeson (General Brigham), Bill Paxton (Major Sergeant Farell), Jonas Armstrong (Skinner), Tony Way (Kimmel), Kick Gurry (Griff), Franz Drameh (Ford), Dragomir Mrsic (Kuntz), Charlotte Riley (Nance), Masayoshi Haneda (Takeda), Terence Maynard (Cruel Sergeant), Noah Taylor (Dr. Carter), Lara Pulver (Karen Lord), Madeleine Mantock (Julie)

Buy Edge of Tomorrow from Amazon.com: Blu-ray Combo Pack • Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack • DVD • Instant Video

With Edge of Tomorrow, Tom Cruise threw his hat back into the summer movie ring. For a long time, Cruise was one of the kings of the season, propelling movies like The Firm, Mission: Impossible, Minority Report and War of the Worlds to high heights at the box office.
Lately, though, the actor who used to regularly cross the $100 million mark domestically has seen diminishing returns and the off-season opening of his previous project, Oblivion, seemed like a concession. This year, Cruise was back and ready to test his mettle against superheroes, fairy tale villains, giant lizards, dragons and giant robots.

Edge stars Cruise as Major William Cage, a U.S. Army PR guy who tries to put a positive spin on the military's ongoing wars with Mimics, deadly alien creatures. Pointing out he's not prepared for combat, Cage objects when he is assigned to the front lines of a European strike by a no-nonsense British general (Brendan Gleeson). Cage finds himself in handcuffs, addressed and treated like a lowly private by those in charge, specifically a mustachioed Bill Paxton as a Kentuckian Master Sergeant. Entirely unfamiliar with the weaponized exoskeleton he dons, Cage could not be much worse-equipped for his airplane drop into intense battle. He can't even figure out how to turn the safety off.

Army PR Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is dropped into a war he's extremely unprepared for in "Edge of Tomorrow."

Soon, Cage is face to face with the large, fast, and powerful enemy. Moments later, he awakens back in those handcuffs, getting the same gruff treatment and chilly introductions from the Kentuckian and his fellow J-Squad soldiers. That's right, it's Groundhog Day!

It doesn't seem to be February 2nd, but Major/Private Cage is in the same predicament as Bill Murray's grumpy meteorologist in the brilliant 1993 comedy set around that holiday. Repeatedly, Cage dies and wakes up in those handcuffs by a sergeant calling him a maggot. Cage's ability to "reset a day" is uncommon but not unprecedented. He discovers as much when the most decorated soldier around, Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), known as the Angel of Verdun for her heroics there (and, more colloquially, Full Metal Bitch) recognizes his gift as one she herself used to possess.

Rita and a mechanic (Noah Taylor) who has also experienced reset powers first-hand brief Cage on what he has to do to help mankind defeat their oppressors in the one-sided beach attack Cage keeps reliving. Rita provides the necessary physical training, enabling Cage to approach the battle like a video game he has played before but yet to master. Each death brings them a little closer to the goal for the next go around.

Cage is trained by Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), a decorated soldier nicknamed the Angel of Verdun for her heroics there. Kentuckian Master Sergeant Farell (Bill Paxton) shows little respect to Cage, whom he treats like a new recruit.

Edge of Tomorrow is not the first film to borrow from Groundhog Day. Just last year, Richard Curtis' About Time did so extensively. Whereas that film still mined the concept for romantic comedy, Edge applies it to futuristic science fiction action and reveals it to be a surprisingly strong fit.
Adapted from Hiroshi Sakurazaka's 2004 light graphic novel All You Need Is Kill, Edge makes strong use of its premise, seizing the rich editing opportunities afforded and turning them into some efficient laughs. But it also takes its future conflict seriously and invites us to do the same, imbuing action scenes with clear stakes and meaning. Director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Jumper, Mr. and Mrs. Smith) does a pretty outstanding job of keeping this big, loud, expensive summer movie human and investible.

Cruise deserves some credit for once again giving us a compelling, sympathetic protagonist. It's been nearly thirty years since Top Gun and Cruise has handled these duties so many times. That he can do it again without boring us and while making it look effortless is testament to his considerable talent. He may not often stretch himself as an actor or stray from such action heroics, but Cruise still pulls them off as well as anyone and continues to do so while defying age. If Cruise looked anything like a 52-year-old man, it might stretch credibility, but without the benefit of a side-by-side comparison, he looks barely older and less nimble than he did in the '90s.

Blunt has interestingly gravitated to sci-fi thrillers, adding to a résumé that already includes the respectable Looper and The Adjustment Bureau. Such films aren't ones that make you think of her as an obvious leading lady, but the English actress somehow seems entirely comfortable with such action-packed American productions and manages to class them up slightly instead of treating them as mindless cash-ins until the next indie dramedy or costume piece arises.

Edge is the latest Cruise movie to bolster the career of Christopher McQuarrie, who struggled to live up to the promise of his Oscar-winning breakout screenplay for The Usual Suspects. Over the past six years, McQuarrie has rebounded as the writer of Valkyrie and the writer-director of Jack Reacher, two above-average Cruise vehicles whose strong but not quite outstanding receptions set a reasonable model for how Edge might perform with both critics and audiences.

Obviously, Warner Bros.' expectations for this should have been much higher than those two, with a steep $178 million production budget. After a weak for summer opening weekend haul of $28.8 million, the well-reviewed Edge of Tomorrow gradually built some favorable word of mouth and endured smaller drops than similar genre fare. In the end, the film narrowly cleared the $100 M mark domestically, becoming Cruise's first non-sequel since 2005 to do that, and earned a respectable $269 M from foreign markets.

Though still far from profitability, Edge enjoyed moderate success in spite of trailers doing a poor job of conveying the film's appeal and that extremely generic and almost immediately forgotten title. Warner addresses the latter issue in an unusual way, stopping just short of renaming the film for home video. The film's theatrical tagline, Live Die Repeat, is emphasized on the cover art in large gold type, with the film's actual title (unchanged in playback itself) reduced to a font smaller than critical quotes and strung together with the stars' surnames to resemble some kind of invalid website address: "CRUISE/BLUNT/EDGEOFTOMORROW." It's a drastic step in rebranding and one which could serve to confuse the millions of people who saw the film in theaters and enjoyed it. On the other hand, maybe it will help this film discover the larger audience it deserves.

Edge of Tomorrow: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
BD: 7.1 DTS HD-MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish, Portuguese)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish; BD-only: Portuguese
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $35.99
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as Blu-ray 3D Combo ($44.95 SRP), standalone DVD ($28.98 SRP)
and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

You expect a movie with a budget close to $200 million to offer high quality visuals and sound. Edge of Tomorrow does. The Blu-ray's 2.40:1 presentation impresses in light and dark scenes alike (it has its share of each). The camera is shaky and the action is frenetic, but it's still easy to appreciate that the element remains sharp and clean throughout. The 7.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack is maybe even more satisfying. Engaging effects and music are in high supply and the mix does a nice job of never letting those elements drown out the dialogue, even if a lot of it is repeated or inessential. This doesn't appear to leave any room for improvement on this format.

Tom Cruise tests out an exosuit in "Weapons of the Future." Concept art for one of the film's three types of aliens is seen in "Creatures Not of This World."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Edge of Tomorrow is accompanied by a number of HD video extras on Blu-ray.

They begin with a section called Operation Downfall, which presents an ultimate version of the oft-repeated, slightly-redone action-packed scene
from the movie in something called an "Adrenaline Cut" (2:34) with full 7.1 DTS-HD master audio. This section concludes with "Storming the Beach" (8:59), a featurette on the muddy making of this combat scene modeled after World War II.

"Weapons of the Future" (8:25) focuses on those exosuits, as actors detail the demands, both in working out for months in advance and then having to move with that weight on their bodies.

"Creatures Not of This World" (5:38) looks at the film's three different kinds of aliens and how the filmmakers tried to design them in a way that wasn't derivative of other movie extraterrestrials.

Director Doug Liman sneaks some noodles in during the production of "Edge of Tomorrow." This deleted scene eventually devolves into a pre-vis animatic featuring a passable CG version of Tom Cruise.

"On the Edge with Doug Liman" (42:37) is far more substantial than you'd expect given its title and placement.
This is a full making-of documentary from the director's point of view. Liman espouses his own work ethic and that of Tom Cruise, who together agreed on a 7 days a week shooting schedule. (One actor likens the pair to Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.) Liman is celebrated by his collaborators for his push for honesty, preference for "science fact", and use of a messy lived-in world.

The ambitious production documented is not without its challenges, from Liman getting his first taste of green screen sets to using those cumbersome exosuits to filming while the script is still unfinished. With looks at the filming on real sets and a few UK locations, a description of the unusual casting process (actors were cast before characters were developed), and a look at Liman's vigorous tennis training, this solid, memorable piece stands out from the industry's sea of shorter, more routine making-of featurettes.

Finally, we get a reel of seven deleted scenes (7:38), which are mostly short and minor extensions of or variations on what's in the film. The most interesting characteristic of them is that they feature unfinished visual effects, leaving green screen and wires visible, not blending elements seamlessly at all, and even relying on CG pre-vis animatics at one point.

The well under dual-layer capacity DVD only includes "Weapons of the Future" and "Creatures Not of This World", making the rest Blu-ray exclusives, since no 2-disc DVD edition is offered separately.

The Blu-ray opens with trailers for Mad Max: Fury Road, and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. The DVD opens with those and then proceeds to promote Into the Storm, Godzilla, Batman: Assault on Arkham, and LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham. Edge of Tomorrow's own trailer is typically but unfortunately not included.

Each disc uses a still as menu (the top one from the cover), which is equipped with a finite score excerpt. The Blu-ray allows you to resume playback of the film, but does not support bookmarks.

A single-sided insert supplying your Digital HD UltraViolet code is all that joins the plain black discs inside an eco-friendly keepcase whose artwork is repeated in a plain cardboard slipcover.

William Cage (Tom Cruise) and Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) pool their efforts to try to defeat an alien slaughter with day-resetting in "Edge of Tomorrow."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Despite the generic title and the unappetizing trailers, Edge of Tomorrow proves to be plenty of fun in a big sci-fi action summer movie way. Tom Cruise's latest vehicles may not be the big draw they once were, but they still deliver high quality entertainment befitting his long, blockbuster-heavy résumé.

Warner's Blu-ray combo pack offers a dynamic feature presentation plus a little over an hour of mostly solid extras. It's a good enough release of a good enough movie to recommend.

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Related Reviews:
Tom Cruise: Oblivion • Jack Reacher • The Firm • Top Gun • Knight and Day • Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol • The Color of Money • Rock of Ages
Emily Blunt: Looper • Arthur Newman • Gulliver's Travels • Dan in Real Life • Gnomeo & Juliet | Directed by Doug Liman: Jumper
Written by Christopher McQuarrie: Jack the Giant Slayer • The Tourist • The Usual Suspects
Sci Fi and Action: Elysium • District 9 • Gravity • World War Z • Pacific Rim • Divergent • The Amazing Spider-Man 2
New: Transformers: Age of Extinction • Godzilla • Captain America: The Winter Soldier • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Complete First Season

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Reviewed October 5, 2014.



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