Let’s get the bad taste of Seth McFarlane and Maleficent out of our mouths shall we? The two new movies this week couldn’t be more different from each other. Well, I suppose that dying is a theme. First up, we have Tom Cruise stuck in a time loop, reliving the final battle of mankind vs aliens. It’s going against the unofficial sequel to A Walk to Remember, The Fault in Our Stars.
Edge of Tomorrow
Let’s be honest with ourselves. Even if you don’t like Tom Cruise, you have to admit the guy knows how to pick scripts. Edge of Tomorrow, based on the book “All You Need is Kill,” is Cruise’s latest sci-fi actioner. Fortunately, it’s like no Cruise performance before it.
Cruise plays Major William Cage in a near future where aliens have taken over the majority of Europe. While he has a lofty title, he is little more than a publicist for the armed forces. He has never seen a day of battle in his life. After refusing orders to join the front lines, he is tossed into a suicide mission as the militaries of the world unite to storm the beaches of France. The military utilizes new battle suits that give each soldier a fighting chance against the Mimic invaders. The suit doesn’t help Cage much as he is killed early in the battle. He wakes up the previous day and gets another chance to survive the battle. And so on, and so on.
Cage soon recruits the help of war hero, Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) who has some experience with Cruise’s time-bending condition. The two of them work together over the course of the same day, multiple times, attempting to find a way to finally win the war.
Forgettable title aside, this is a fantastic original summer blockbuster. This is one of the most action-packed movies I’ve seen in a long time. It rarely ever lets up. It balances the action with the surprisingly good chemistry between Cruise and Blunt. The focus on Bill Paxton’s typical ornery Master Sergeant doesn’t hurt either.
Most Tom Cruise movies rely on the slick persona of the main star. He typically plays the arrogant hero that will predictably save the day. Edge of Tomorrow shows us a different Cruise. He plays a complete and almost detestable coward. There’s no smoothness about him. The first time he storms the beach in his suit, you feel the slow, inexperienced pace he stumbles at.
Edge of Tomorrow is surprisingly hilarious. It’s a great decision to show Cruise repeatedly dying in horrific ways. Few actors of his status would’ve done the same. While it may sound odd, nearly each of his deaths adds levity and humor to the mix.
Even if you go into this movie thinking it’s the Tom Cruise version of Groundhog Day, that’s fine, as long as it gets you into the door. I worry that it won’t do as well domestically as it should. Internationally, it will make a ton of money. At this point, Edge of Tomorrow is the second best movie of the summer (after X-Men).
Sitting comfortably under two hours, Edge of Tomorrow is a tight and smart do-over movie with a ton of playback. Check this one out in the theater.
The Fault in Our Stars
The Fault in Our Stars, based on the mega-hit book of the same name by John Green, was created for one purpose – to make you cry. It’s time to find out if you have a warm heart or a cold chest cavity where your heart once resided.
Shailene Woodley plays Hazel Grace Lancaster. From the age of 13, she has been plagued by cancer and needs to carry around an oxygen tank in order to breathe. At the point where we meet her, she has fully accepted the fact that life is going to end and she doesn’t see the need to put on airs about a long future. She ends up meeting a cancer survivor named Augustus Waters at a cancer support group. From there, the movie becomes a story of Gus attempting to win over Hazel. However, she doesn’t want to hurt him because the relationship will most assuredly be cut short.
That’s basically the entire movie. There’s not much story when it comes to the sweet tale of Gus and Hazel. The book was so well received, despite that fact of a great plot, because the writing was so good. The movie, thankfully, has nearly the same benefit. The two screenwriters, Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, struck gold with 2009’s relationship dramedy, (500) Days of Summer. They know how to create genuine emotion between two romantic leads. However, they also worked on Pink Panther 2, so I guess no one is perfect. The writing here is solid. As said previously, even with an absence of story, you can’t help but watch where the relationship goes.
Shailene Woodley gives a great portrayal of Hazel, who is on the brink of exhaustion at all times. Hazel is so fragile that you, as the audience, beg her not to overexert herself. She carries the movie, whether she’s in a humorous scene or incredibly dramatic moment.
Ansel Elgort is serviceable in the role of Gus. I couldn’t help but feel that any number of young actors could have played the charismatic, truthful Gus. Elgort has a face that is extremely forgettable, while giving a performance that will last.
The movie is not without its problems. It’s over two hours long and starts to feel like three. Audiences can only put up with so much sadness and depression before they wish they were watching another movie. I’d liken this to the Return of the King of cancer movies. It just didn’t want to end. As brutal as this makes me sound, I was ready for someone to die 90 minutes in. Honestly, it would have been a far tighter movie minus 30 minutes.
Tears were shed in my screening (none were mine). Sniffles could be heard for the final 45 minutes. Yet, The Fault in Our Stars delayed its own ending so much, that the tears had run out. This movie makes the fragile nature of life feel real, but getting hit over the head with the cancer hammer can take a lot out of the audience.
The Fault in Our Stars is surprisingly good. I clearly have no heart, but there are plenty of emotions to be felt. The writing is snappy and smart. Yes, it’s clear that these characters speak using the voice of a clever author, but you go along with it. They’re meant to seem older because of the trials they’ve gone through.
The Fault in Our Stars is definitely worth seeing…once. You will never want to watch it again. I’d recommend, because of the long run time, that it would make a perfect rental that you can watch in the comfort of your home and possibly shed some ugly tears.