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In the near future, an alien race has attacked the Earth in an unrelenting assault, unbeatable by any military unit in the world. Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is an officer who has never seen a day of combat when he is unceremoniously dropped into what amounts to a suicide mission. Killed within minutes, Cage now finds himself inexplicably thrown into a time loop – forcing him to live out the same brutal combat over and over, fighting and dying again...and again. But, with each battle, Cage becomes able to engage the adversaries with increasing skill, alongside Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt). And, as Cage and Rita take the fight to the aliens, each repeated encounter gets them one step closer to defeating the enemy. (From Warner’s official synopsis)

 Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow
A film’s title is its first impression on an audience and the wrong one can wreak irreparable damage on the bottom line. Movies often go through title changes during the production process and titles often differ from region to region throughout the world. But it’s rare that a film changes its title after release. I’m sure there are plenty of examples, but the only occurance I can recall off the top of my head are Sergio Leone’s Duck, You Sucker!, which was retitled and re-released as A Fistful of Dynamite when it flopped in North American theaters, and Farhad Mann’s Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace, which was retitled Lawnmower Man 2: Jobe’s War when released on home video. Now, we have Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow. The initial production title was All You Need is Kill, the same as the Japanese comic book it was based on (technically, the manga is phonetically titled Ôru Yü Nïdo Izu Kiru) and had toyed with the working title We Mortals Are, but a nervous studio changed it to Edge of Tomorrow. Edge of Tomorrow was a box office disappointment and part of the blame was put on the bland title, which sounded more like a daytime soap than a sci-fi action adventure. So, for this video release, it appears that Warner Bros. brass has clandestinely adjusted the name to Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow. However, the adjustment appears to be mostly ornamental, because the opening titles still read Edge of Tomorrow.

Whatever you want to call it, Edge of Tomorrow was one of the summer season’s unsung heroes and the only non-franchise blockbuster to make an impact in 2014 (so far). It’s smart, exciting, character-driven, emotionally impactful when necessary, and, perhaps most valuable of all, not afraid of being funny. Aside from the occasional wisecrack, Liman’s films haven’t been particularly funny since he traded in the dark, uncomfortable comedy of Swingers and Go for the serious espionage of The Bourne Identity. He has regularly proven his proclivity for cinematic action of all kinds, from the basic reality of The Bourne Identity to the absurd antics of Mr. and Mrs. Smith and the effects-driven fantasy of Jumper, so Edge of Tomorrow’s graceful, Steven Spielberg-esque battle sequences aren’t really surprising. It’s the infusion of comedy (especially a handful of slapstick gags) that sets this film apart from most of its contemporaries, not to mention Liman’s other films.

 Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow
Edge of Tomorrow has been most commonly compared to Harold Ramis’ Groundhog Day. Both movies feature less-than-likable protagonists that learn valuable life lessons when they are trapped in the same 24-hour period. However, despite the similarities in basic story function, Edge of Tomorrow is less of a sci-fi action revamp of Groundhog Day and more of an attempt at adapting the infuriating repetition of a particularly difficult video game to film. This is a difficult proposition, because video games are an inherently subjective and interactive medium, while a film’s story remains frozen. This is a major reason most of the movies based on video games fail on a narrative level. Screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie and Jez & John-Henry Butterworth (working from Dante Harper’s spec script, which was based on Sakurazaka’s manga) overcame the problem by focusing on the mechanics of the storytelling and how they affect their main character. Despite being portrayed by a superstar with a tainted public persona, Major William Cage is strong audience surrogate and an easy character to identify with. Cruise’s performance ensures Cage has plenty of personality and growth, and the character has plenty of unique traits, but his structural purpose is still that of an in-game avatar.

Another reason most movies based on video games fail is that most video game plots are inspired by popular movies. Even good games are, in my experience, pretty generic on a story level. This is one pitfall (video game reference!) that the writers of Edge of Tomorrow aren’t quite able to surmount. The concept is more interesting than the plot. In fact, the most interesting aspect of the plot, that the aliens can reset time, is a function of the concept. If we take away the concept, we’re left with an interchangeable alien invasion movie. Even the super-powered exoskeletons that the human heroes use in battle have a precedent in stuff like James Cameron’s Aliens (which also features a supporting performance from Bill Paxton). Liman and his compatriots stave off issues with ordinariness by focusing the story’s structure and relatable characters, but are eventually overwhelmed during the extended climax.

 Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow
I’m not referring to the much-derided final few moments, but the decisive battle to save humanity that precedes the coda. The writers do the right thing by taking away Cage’s super powers and removing the story’s safety net, but the escalation in explosive action is numbing. Potent character beats are lost in a hail of bullets and a sea of explosions that aren’t true to the more intimate, amusing, and emotionally charged action that preceded them. The audience is no longer participating with the film’s video game-inspired narrative structure – they’re stuck on the couch, watching someone else play the last level, and waiting their turn. It doesn’t ruin the movie at all (the story ends up in the right place and no amount of tooling about could overshadow the two acts that proceeded it), but it dulls the impact of an otherwise remarkably tight-knit action film. Of course, the issue of escalating the scope of climatic action sequences isn’t restricted to Edge of Tomorrow, it’s a problem for all modern blockbusters. Filmmakers get too caught up in blowing up the Death Star in more elaborate ways than the last guy did and don’t seem to notice how desensitizing hours of exploding pixels can be.

Cruise does a typically great job as a reluctant matinee hero. At this point in his career, he works best when poking fun at his persona and embracing his comedic abilities. Edge of Tomorrow is full of both (I love the ‘full diaper’ walk when he’s first being carted off to war), which really helps him sell the character’s growth from a selfish coward to a selfless hero. More satisfying, however, is Emily Blunt, at least in terms of her character. Between this and Rian Johnson’s brilliant time-travel movie Looper, she’s making a name for herself in smart sci-fi movies that don’t treat women like props (like the Sigourney Weaver of time loop movies). Sgt Rita Vrataski isn’t the most thoroughly constructed character (it’s not an ensemble piece, after all) and it’s arguable that her sexuality is too incidental to consider her a completely successful feminist icon, but she’s not a stereotype on any level. She’s ‘Hollywood pretty’ without appearing glamorous and her soldier’s persona isn’t played off as nasty. The other characters accept her as the most decorated and impressive soldier in the squad without questioning or even acknowledging her gender (aside from the ‘Full Metal Bitch’ nickname that she clearly isn’t fond of). Vrataski also isn’t a traditional love interest. The fact that she’s a woman does give Cage a better excuse to act tenderly towards her without offending the homophobes in the audience, but Cage treats her as precious because she’s the only human he’s able to consistently interact with. It’s not really a romantic relationship, especially not from her point-of-view.

 Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow


Live Die Repeat, or Edge of Tomorrow, whatever you want to call it, was shot on 35mm film (some shots in Super 35mm), then converted to 3D and for some theatrical exhibitions (it was also blown up for an IMAX release, which must have looked terrible). This 2D Blu-ray release is presented in 1080p, 2.40:1 widescreen. The look is relatively natural, including a fine sheen of grain, dynamic light play, and crisp foreground details. The footage is sometimes limited, due to prevalent darkness and a lack of modest contrast levels. Liman and cinematographer Dion Beebe were at least somewhat inspired by Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan and took that film’s bleak, overcast photography. Fortunately, this HD transfer is sharp enough to maintain clarity during even the blackest interior sequences and overcast daylight scenes feature considerable softness when needed (the climax is still pretty damn dark, though). The palette has been digitally altered for the sake of more consistent hues. A fiery orange range is the key highlight hue and often becomes the only warm colour in sequences that otherwise appear monochromatic. Army greens, steely blues, and more of those barren blacks define most of the backgrounds and the differentiation is vague enough that I image it would be lost on a standard definition disc. The strength of the oranges sometimes causes them to bleed into the otherwise red skin tones, but, thankfully, this isn’t what I’d call a typically orange & teal production.

 Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow


Live Edge Die of Repeat Tomorrow includes a big, burly, and, at its best, a very playful DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack. The design work begins with the opening news exposition montage, which layers and swirls throughout the channels, and sets a bleak yet punchy mood. This busy-ness permeates throughout the mix, aside from a couple of pointedly dry dialogue sequences. The buzz and rumble of war preparation keeps the stereo and surround speakers vibrating with familiar, real-world sounds (chopping helicopters, whirring servos, rapidly firing bullets) and less familiar, sci-fi sounds (mostly things that the aliens do). The battle scenes are the prime aural real estate, of course, and sound most spectacular when playing with stark dynamic ranges. Some of them are brash and heavily layered, while others (the first failed attack, in particular) are more subtle and subjectively skewed towards Cruise’s shell-shocked point-of-view (another piece of inspiration clearly taken from Saving Private Ryan). Christophe Beck (who has had lots of luck with children’s musicals like Frozen and Muppets Most Wanted recently) has composed a typical sci-fi adventure score that presses the action forward without overwhelming the intricacies of the effects design. His blazing horn work during Cruise’s hero moments sound especially nice with the LFE enhancement.

 Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow


  • Operation Downfall:
    • Operation Downfall: Adrenaline Cut (2:30, HD) – Footage from Cage’s various attempts at successfully defeating the aliens on the beach, cut together into one long action scene.
    • Storming the Beach (9:00, HD) – Interviews with the cast and crew who discuss the grounded design and WWII inspirations bnehind the film’s Normandy beach attack sequence. It includes behind-the-scenes footage and pre-viz images.
  • Weapons of the Future (8:30, HD) – More interviews concerning the film’s speculative technologies, including the exo-suits the characters employ to fight the aliens.
  • Creatures Not of This World (5:40, HD) – On the design and special effects processes behind the alien creatures.
  • On the Edge with Doug Liman (42:40, HD) – A more inclusive behind-the-scenes featurette that takes a fly on the wall approach. It sometimes feels like a bit of an ad piece for Tom Cruise and his work ethic (the Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol extras also had this problem), but includes plenty of on-set footage and valuable interviews. Content includes filming without a completed script, maintaining a realistic tone, stunt training, set design/building, costume design, Liman’s directing style, and stunt/action design.
  • Deleted/extended scenes (7:40, HD)

 Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow


Live Die Repeat, Edge of Tomorrow, or perhaps Live Die Repeat: Cruise/Blunt/EdgeOfTomorrow as it reads on the Blu-ray box, is a fun, original sci-fi flick. It runs out of creative steam during its climax and doesn’t quite hold up as nicely as I thought it would on a second viewing, but it’s still one of the summer’s best and comes highly recommended to the thousands of people that apparently missed it on its initial theatrical release. Warner’s Blu-ray skews a bit darker than I recall the film looking in theaters, but is otherwise sharp and clean. The DTS-HD MA soundtrack is spectacular and extras are informative, if not a little EPK-ish.

 Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow

 Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow

* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray and have been resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking the individual images, but due to .jpg compression, they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.