Tuesday, October 07, 2014

What's New in Blu? (Week of Oct. 6)

“Edge of Tomorrow” (PG-13)
Starring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson
Directed by Doug Liman

Science fiction gets a kind of "Groundhog Day" treatment in "Edge of Tomorrow," an action-packed tale of a military officer (Tom Cruise) forced into combat who becomes the key to unlocking the strategy to kill a seemingly unstoppable alien species that has invaded Earth. As Maj. William Cage, Cruise is in fine form, playing a bit against type as a soldier who knows how to sell the public and press on going to war, but not actually fighting in it himself. In fact, when his superior, Gen. Brigham (Brendan Gleeson), orders him to the front lines, Cage doesn't react well and tries to flee. It only gets worse for him from there, as he is later killed almost instantly upon coming face to face with the alien opponents. But then he wakes up, and is right back on base with his new platoon, confused and kind of horrified to realize he has to relive the whole day again.

Having entered into some kind of time loop (don't worry, the movie makes an effort to offer a reasoning behind it that's not quite completely absurd), Cage is forced to live the day over and over in an attempt to finally defeat the aliens. He's assisted by Sgt. Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt, who, like Cruise, goes against her previous image with good results), a tough-as-nails soldier who happens to understand what is happening to Cage and agrees to help train and ultimately fight alongside him.

A good measure of humor is sprinkled throughout the movie, particularly in the early resets (of which there are many) for Cage, as he slowly realizes what's happening to him. For example, he begins to memorize people's conversations with him, as if he's heard them dozens of times (because he has). It's a good counterpoint to the frequent action sequences that, thanks to strong direction from Doug Liman ("The Bourne Identity"), refrain from getting excessively redundant — a real challenge in a film such as this.
Grade: B+

“Million Dollar Arm” (PG)
Starring Jon Hamm, Aasif Mandvi, Bill Paxton, Suraj Sharma, Lake Bell and Alan Arkin
Directed by Craig Gillispie

“A Million Ways to Die in the West” (R)
Starring Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Giovanni Ribisi, Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Silverman and Liam Neeson
Directed by Seth MacFarlane

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