Edge of Tomorrow

2014_review_action

There were some fantastically great action films released in 2014, but 2014 was not a great year for action films. The horror genre had no such shortage (as evidenced by the greatness occupying our list of the year’s best) and you can probably name several comedies that had you busting a gut in 2014, but action films? There weren’t very many, and what there was rarely impressed. But sometimes you find great action in less than great movies, and with that understanding I was able to find 14 movies that fit the bill as the Best Action Films of 2014. Well, almost.

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20th Century Fox

Far too often, people tend to associate “big movie” with “bad movie.” If I was to wrangle up half a billion dollars for a film about cats that can ice dance, there’s no doubt you’d question my motives in doing so. It doesn’t matter if teaching cats to arabesque really is a hundred-million-dollar expenditure or if doing so would guarantee Two Meows on the Rink as the herald of a new golden age in cinema – with the term “blockbuster” comes phantom thoughts of brainless toy commercial cash-ins. It certainly doesn’t help that this year’ biggest movie, Transformers: Age of Extinction, was indeed a brainless toy commercial cash-in. But in 2014, Transformers was the exception, not the rule. This was a year when we went to the movies not just to see things explode, but for movies that would challenge us, intellectually… with explosions. And I’m just talking about December, when everyone’s rushing to see a slew of potential Oscar winners, but during the summer — the portion of the year usually cordoned off for spandex, fireballs and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson challenging Sylvester Stallone to a sheet-metal eating contest. What follows are the 20 biggest worldwide box office earners of the year.

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RICK AND MORTY discs

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Rick and Morty: Season 1 Rick is a scientist of great renown, probably, who lives with his daughter’s family in suburbia and spends his days tinkering and having adventures. His “partner” is his frequently unwilling grandson, Morty. Together they travel through space and time interacting with aliens, mutants and everyday people. And by interacting I mean causing trouble. The latest addition to Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim lineup comes from the twisted minds of Justin Roiland (who also voices both Rick and Morty) and Dan Harmon, and while it found its origin in riffing on Back to the Future it quickly develops a life of its own thanks to a steady stream of very funny gags and smart writing. There’s a hint of Futurama here, but it’s a darker and far more foul world much to our enjoyment. Don’t believe me? Just wait until you see the episode where the human-sized jelly bean tries to rape Morty in a bathroom stall. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Behind the scenes, commentaries, deleted scenes]

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Edge of Groundhog Day

You can tell how boring a movie year is by the state of new Halloween costume ideas each fall. At least in terms of memorable characters. When I walk into one of those seasonal pop-up shops and see the same superheroes year after year joined still, a decade after, by Napoleon Dynamite-style “nerd” package costumes, I worry that there isn’t enough fresh and popular movie iconography being entered into the history books of late. What is the 2014 film zeitgeist but more Spider-Man, Captain America, X-Men, Transformers and Hunger Games? New costumes are repeats of old, like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (and even my old unlikely X-Men meet Forrest Gump and Smurfette ideas), or based on already familiar icons, like LEGO people. Frozen is new but familiar. Same with most of the characters in Guardians of the Galaxy, to a degree. If you want to go against the grain of the mainstream and easily recognized, though, here’s my 7th annual list of unique Halloween costume ideas based on recent movies. If you don’t mind explaining your outfit to everyone at the party or every homeowner you encounter while trick or treating, many of these are relatively obscure. Some of them may stump even your friends who regularly went to the movies over the past 12 months. Others might just seem unnecessarily different or inappropriate or just plain dumb. That’s why I always label them as being unlikely options.  As always, if you use any of them, you’re obligated to share photos with us. And let […]

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edge-of_tomorrow_cruise

The Weekend Watch is an open thread where you can share what you’ve recently watched, offer suggestions on movies and TV shows we should check out (or warnings about stuff to avoid) and discover queue-filling goodies from other FSR readers. The comments section awaits. I’ll get the ball rolling with the movies/TV my eyeballs took in this weekend.

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Edge of Tomorrow BTS

As you all know, Edge of Tomorrow is the story of a man facing a grueling mid-life crisis who can only save himself by escaping a workday grind where every day poses the exact same set of existential irritations and wide-mouthed aliens who want to blow him into tiny bits. We’ve all been there. The movie required a lot of projectiles and explosions for Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt to run away from (or to), and this B-roll footage (via ScreenSlam) shows the pair doing their own stunts while practical fireballs blaze in the background. It’s tough to say whether Edge of Tomorrow had more practical special effects than other big action flicks (I once saw a car thrown at another car while driving near the Transformers set), but it definitely feels like it. The kind of explosions and stunts they’re pulling off without CGI are really fantastic. The body-flinging segment at 3:00 is genuinely startling, and I’m waiting for someone to explain how they safely shot rockets (missiles?) above the heads of dozens of extras and movie stars. That’s the kind of phone call Ned Ryerson waits his whole life for. Questions aside, this video is damned impressive, and it makes me want to see Cruise and Blunt star in a Zhang Yimou movie as soon as possible.

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Marvel Studios

2014’s summer movie season comes to an end in a week or so, but while some folks will be editorializing about the box office being down 15-20% compared to last summer and others express surprise that a movie like Guardians of the Galaxy could be days away from becoming the year’s highest grossing domestic hit, we here at FSR have a different agenda. Simply put, we saw a lot of great movies this summer, and we hope you did too. The year’s best “big” movie (per me anyway), Captain America: The Winter Soldier, missed the summer cutoff as it opened in early April, but there were still some fantastic blockbuster-type flicks that entertained the hell out of us over the past four months. Of course, there were also some brilliant smaller films too. An informal staff survey revealed a mix of both to be our favorites of the summer. Keep reading to see which movies moved us the most from May through August.

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summer_diaries_2

There’s no shortage of love for the way Marvel has crafted its Cinematic Universe, especially from yours truly. They’ve created an entire market for themselves by weaving nine — soon to be ten — movies together into an impressive spandex suit. From Iron Man in 2008 to this year’s unofficial summer kick-off movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier, every Marvel movie is the next piece in a much larger puzzle. Like clockwork, we wait in darkened theaters through lengthy credits to get to the end, where a little tease usually awaits for what comes next. Each film is built with the next stage in mind. It’s a phenomenon not limited to Marvel, though. They simply seem to have perfected it. Warner Bros. is about to set off on a voyage to build its DC Comics universe. And Michael Bay this summer rebooted his entire franchise and took Transformers in a new direction. Every major summer tentpole film is now trying to hook you years in advance. Studios spend money on these movies specifically because they spawn franchises and propel stars who go on to lead other tentpole movies. They sell merch and home video copies and get endlessly streamed the minute they hit the web. The concept isn’t lost on any of us (more like it’s hammered in), especially this week following Comic-Con. We are reminded that these movies are made within the confines of a well-oiled business machine. With their formula, Marvel has your movie ticket money locked up probably […]

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Paramount

At the start of Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow our hero, Major Bill Cage (Tom Cruise), is a coward. He’s more than ready to run from a fight he knows he’s not equipped for. That’s not the kind of hero we expect from a blockbuster, but it’s the type of subversive choice we should expect from screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie, who had a hand in bringing Hiroshi Sakurazak’s graphic novel, All You Need Is Kill, to the big screen. A protagonist unwilling to help save the world isn’t the only fresh idea in Edge of Tomorrow. Even when Cage becomes a fierce soldier, he’s still no match for the bad-ass helicopter-blade-wielding Rita Vrastaski (Emily Blunt). She is the hero of this movie. Vrastaski drives the story. Cruise, once again playing a role a lot of movie stars would pass on, consistently pushed for his co-star to be this film’s true hero. Cruise and McQuarrie’s creative partnership is built on risky choices. Valkyrie, a one-eyed Nazi movie about killing Hitler, was released on Christmas day in 2008. They took a crack at Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, the kind of character that doesn’t think twice about putting a bullet in the head of his unarmed enemy even after they’ve surrendered. And now, with Edge of Tomorrow, they’ve championed a project that follows an unlikely hero in a story not based on a well-known property. The two men are now hard at work on the next Mission: Impossible, but Christopher McQuarrie was kind enough to speak with us weeks after Edge of Tomorrow‘s release. The very candid Mr. McQuarrie openly discussed his […]

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Tom Cruise Dumbfounded in Edge of Tomorrow

Doug Liman‘s Edge of Tomorrow is easily one of the most beloved films of the year. It’s a hit with critics and has garnered passionate reactions from its fans. The only problem people seem to have is with its ending. Before we go any further: beware of spoilers if you haven’t seen Edge of Tomorrow yet. If you haven’t, shame on you.

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Tom Cruise Dumbfounded in Edge of Tomorrow

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Tom Cruise Dumbfounded in Edge of Tomorrow

It may be the best action movie of the summer, but Edge of Tomorrow is far from perfect. Like most Hollywood blockbusters, the latest Tom Cruise vehicle has a good share of plot holes. And because it’s sci-fi, there are also a lot of questions left over that maybe even the screenwriters can’t explain. It’s no Oblivion, of course. Where that got overly convoluted with its Moon-like reveal, this one is still easier to figure out than its own Duncan Jones-directed precursor. Not that anyone is referencing Source Code so much as Groundhog Day. The classic time-loop comedy left us with a ton of questions of its own, yet in a fun way, proof that just because we make one of these lists for a movie doesn’t mean we necessarily think it’s bad. There is a ton to love about Edge of Tomorrow, for instance, including its energy and its surprisingly suitable self-aware humor. But it almost loses a lot of us in that ending. There’s much to discuss about that, and in fact many of our questions below are devoted to elements of the third act, with a couple directed at the last few minutes. Maybe the key is that we need to watch the movie again and again and again until we get it all. Maybe there’s an appropriate trick involved where things become clearer in retreading. Is Edge of Tomorrow itself a game? Or is it just a little too complicated and also a little too sloppy? Obviously, everything beyond […]

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Edge of Tomorrow

Too many blockbusters mistake moroseness for seriousness, often forgetting the key ingredient for a great summer movie: actual fun. Until now, this summer has been no different with its self-serious tentpole releases. Fortunately, director Doug Liman hasn’t forgotten how to craft real escapist entertainment, despite his last popcorn film Jumper suggesting otherwise. His latest, Edge of Tomorrow, is maybe his most accomplished work to date, a massive blockbuster with scale, heart, plenty of humor, and no shortage of coolness. This, ladies and gentleman, is what we call a summer blockbuster. In the not too distant future, non-Earthlings invade Earth. After a series of devastating blows, new forms of weaponry like the mecha suits in the film are employed. The poster child for the war and the mecha suits is Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), a great soldier who has earned the title “full metal bitch.” While she’s out there fighting the war in Europe, the wimpy Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is back home promoting it. Cage has never seen a day in combat, but that changes when a higher up played by Brendan Gleeson sees Cage for what he is. Gleeson’s character sends Cage to the front lines of an attack, which, of course, does not sit well with the Major. His first few minutes on the battlefield don’t go so well: he dies. But as he does, a rare alien’s blood gets in his system, causing him to keep waking up before the slaughter has even happened. He lives again, dies again, lives again, dies again, and so on in a way that would make Phil Connors happy. Cage also […]

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Tom Cruise

America’s favorite movie star, the action ass-kicker of the last decade (or two, or three) and professional big-smiler Tom Cruise has the uncanny ability to charmingly dominate each and every film he stars in. That’s what being a leading man is all about, really, but Cruise manages to do it while surrounded by all kinds of seemingly distracting things — attractive co-stars, cool technological gadgets, extreme sports — and is still able to consistently emerge as the main event. But even when Cruise is the biggest of a film’s big stars and attractions, he still needs a little sidekick action to drive both his character and the narrative. Tom Cruise is a good leading man, but he’s a great leading man to work alongside. But if Cruise is the kind of guy any sidekick would love to accompany, is it possible to pick out the best of his cinematic buddies? Of course it is! And, yes, it’s totally possible we’ve left out your very favorite cinematic sidekick, so feel free to share who we so obviously missed in the comments (nicely!). Until then, here’s our definitive ranking.

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Tom Cruise and Bill Paxton in Edge of Tomorrow

Note: the following contains no spoilers for the movie beyond what happens in the first act, nor any more than you’ll find in a review. Still, feel free to go in blind and return here after seeing the movie if you wish. There are a few movies that Edge of Tomorrow obviously calls to mind. Groundhog Day is the big one, while the movie’s initial battle scene is reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan. The latter would be the more direct visual reference, almost remake rather than homage, but it’s really more than that. Within the plot, the battle is a literal redo of the Normandy landing, so it’s a double-layer repeat for a movie that’s already all about doing things over again. It definitely seems to be intentional, too, that Edge of Tomorrow opens in the U.S. on the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Another movie relevant to the appreciation of Edge of Tomorrow is Aliens. Both have Bill Paxton and both have an extraterrestrial threat. The casting of the actor here has to be connected to his appearance in the Alien sequel, and he has even stated presumption of as much in interviews. Specifically, though, he tends to mention just the alien link and that he was desired so that he could say, “Game over, Man!” Yet his character never does say that. He doesn’t need to, because there’s enough recall here to have the audience thinking of the line, so long as they’re familiar with the earlier movie and are consciously aware […]

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Sleeping Beauty

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Edge of Tomorrow

May was a rough time for major releases. With The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and A Million Ways to Die in the West, the first month of summer blockbusting got off to a messy start and ended with an equally toxic finish. Although I’m not a fan of Godzilla and X-Men: Days of Future Past, they have their supporters, so maybe May wasn’t as bad of a month as I’m pegging it as. Maybe it’s just that when a studio comedy as tedious and frustrating as A Million Ways to Die in the West comes around, it’s always going to poison the whole calendar page. Thankfully this summer is about to receive a large improvement, because there’s a terrific blockbuster coming out this Friday. While the Tom Cruise-starring action movie isn’t tracking so hot, let’s hope the tides change and people flock to Edge of Tomorrow. Plus, there’s a solid amount of releases this month you should plan to see. Here are the must see movies of June 2014:

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summermovieprediction_week6

Welcome to week six of our 2014 Summer Box-Office Challenge! Think of it as a summer-long contest for movie-lovers — you’ll make predictions and guesses as to which summer movies will rule the box-office each week, we award points and at the end of the contest the three top point-earners will each win a Blu-ray/DVD prize pack! First place will win ten (10) Blu-ray/DVD titles released throughout the coming summer, second place wins five (5) and third place wins two (2). We’ll have bonus questions each week as well to help bolster your point totals and keep you in the running. The box office estimates from this past weekend put Maleficent at #1 with $70 million. It’s a shame as it’s not a good movie, but at least we can take comfort in the far stinkier A Million Ways to Die in the West only managing a third place opening behindlast week’s champion, X-Men: Days of Future Past. The estimate makes it too close to call just yet between the two nearest players, Gary Salem and Jamie Boyde — so the rankings below are based on estimates and will be updated once the actuals come in. Here are the current standings for our contest (with the understanding that they may change once actuals come in later today). [UPDATE: The actuals are in, and Maleficent made $69.4 million meaning the point dispersal remains unchanged. However, an earlier error has been addressed resulting in a single change to the top five.] Chris B – 16 points Husain – 15 pts […]

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Edge of Tomorrow

There’s little sense arguing that the summer movie season isn’t already tremendously overstuffed (it’s so overstuffed, in fact, that even two years from now, the summer season of 2016, feels too crammed with highly hyped films to appropriately process the wannabe-blockbusters that lay in wait for us then, but I digress), but that doesn’t mean that there’s not room for a star-studded and action-heavy feature to emerge as an unexpected favorite. In fact, this is the season that basically demands it, because “star-studded” and “action-heavy” are sort of the only things that can make a great summer blockbuster popcorn flick, especially an unexpectedly solid one — like Edge of Tomorrow. The Doug Liman-directed feature is essentially Groundhog Day spliced with an alien invasion film, a war production, a feminist-friendly outing, and real Tom Cruise vehicle. Sound tired? It’s not. You’re going to love it. We promise.

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Walt Disney Pictures

Once you’ve heard Bill Paxton scream, “Game over, man!” you can never unhear it. And that’s a good thing. He got to play big on camera throughout the ’80s, but hamming it up isn’t all he’s capable of as evidenced by a string of great dramatic roles in the ’90s including One False Move, A Simple Plan and Apollo 13. Years later he surprised people again with his directorial debut, Frailty, which made our list of one of the best horror films of its decade. He followed that film up with The Greatest Game Ever Played, a movie that clearly means a lot to Paxton despite its failure to find a wide audience. From 2006 to 2011 he played Bill Henrickson on HBO’s Big Love. He received considerable acclaim for his performance, but he once again found himself having to prove himself capable of range beyond that character once the show came to an end. It’s easy to get typecast, but to combat being put into a box, Paxton has taken on an eclectic set of supporting roles over the past few years, including this week’s Million Dollar Arm. With this Disney release, Agents of Shield, Edge of Tomorrow, and Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler, which I’ve heard nothing but excellent things about, 2014 is a good year for Bill Paxton. The actor spoke with us about his performance as USC pitching coach Tom House, as well as the highs and lows of the film business, the paradoxical nature of acting and more.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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