Tag Archives: Edge of Tomorrow

Can someone in a summer blockbuster die please?

Spoilers for The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Book Thief, Avengers Assemble, Edge of Tomorrow, Frozen, How To Train Your Dragon 2… Basically if it’s a summer blockbuster you haven’t seen, it may be spoiled ahead.

Last summer I went to watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier at the cinema with my friends. Not convinced by the first Captain America film I didn’t hold high hopes for this one either, but I went to see it nonetheless, at least in part because of the great reviews it was getting. And it was good. Oh, it was so entertaining! When Nick Fury was shot – and then dead – I kept thinking, “Oh my God, no. They can’t kill him. They can’t.”

Turns out, they couldn’t. And this ended up putting a sour note on the whole film.

I’m so tired of going to the cinema and seeing people die, only to know that they’ll be alive again, you just have to give it half an hour or so. To be fair to The Winter Soldier, I had started to think that Fury was actually dead, so while my disappointment at seeing him alive was higher I wasn’t completely apathetic to the trick yet – it did elicit some emotion rather than boredom. With Guardians of the Galaxy, however, it was so obvious that Root was going to reappear that it just irritated me. What was even the point? His death had caused such emotion turmoil (on screen) only for all that action to be rendered essentially hollow by the end where he’s dancing (admittedly, humourously) on the table. Even Avengers Assemble, which I had thought had actually done the impossible for second there and killed off Agent Coulson, lost it’s emotional weight somewhat when he turns out to be alive in the Agents of Shield TV series.

Marvel isn’t alone. Summer blockbuster Edge of Tomorrow had me hooked until the end where – you guessed it – everyone’s alive and well. Even darker movies such as The Dark Knight Rises had deaths-that-weren’t-really-deaths.

I didn’t mind it so much for TDKR (though that film had many other problems for me) but in Edge of Tomorrow, The Winter Soldier, it all felt like cheating. Why was it that Harry Potter had such an emotional impact? JK Rowling wasn’t afraid of killing off main characters who we loved and cared about. The book The Book Thief hurt you, but the deaths resulted in a novel that stayed with you long after you read the last page. The same for Star Wars – what sort of films would they be if Obi Wan Knobi had lived? And The Dark Knight. After Rachel died I had exactly the same mental shock that I had at seeing Nick Fury ‘die’ – the “They can’t kill her” moment. Glued to my seat, I sat,repeating, “They can’t kill her, she must be alive.” They could, and she wasn’t, and the film was all the better for it.

Even children’s films feel braver than Hollywood at the moment. In the past you had The Lion King and Bambi, but even recently there were the deaths of Elsa and Anna’s parents in Frozen and Hiccup’s dad in How to Train Your Dragon 2. Why is it that movie producers think that children can accept death and adults can’t? Or that adults will be okay with having their emotions toyed with, feeling the sense of loss only for the emotion to be considered void? I understand that children won’t go to see a film because Gerard Butler is voicing Stoick in the same way that an adult may see The Avengers because they like Samuel L. Jackson, but there has got to be a better way to play with emotions than just killing off characters only to bring them back to life again.

It feels as if Hollywood is stuck in a rut. They don’t want to alienate anyone, make anyone too sad. Instead they look scared – they avoid going to the dark place that is killing off a character, and it results in far less memorable films than would otherwise be possible. Imagine an ending to Edge of Tomorrow where all the characters died. Yes, it would be depressing, but it would also be different and so much more memorable. Instead, we got the standard Hollywood ending. Yes, the film was good, but it wasn’t great, and that ending was a main problem in that for me.

I’m wary to see the new Avengers film because I think a character will die only to be resurrected. I hope I’m wrong – I want an actual emotional element to a film, not a half-done, manipulating set of scenes – but I don’t think I am. We’ll see, I guess. I’ll see the movie anyway, so I suppose I’m just fueling the situation, aren’t I?

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Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow was a really good summer blockbuster, and highly recommended,  though I was let down by the end. Spoiler: it was really Hollywood.

SPOILERS ahead.

This film was different from most summer films: about halfway through, I realised I was having a lot of fun. As in, Edge of Tomorrow (or Live, Die, Repeat – what’s happening there?!) was very entertaining and I was enjoying watching it. This may seem like a stupid statement, but with so many summer blockbusters I usually zone out and enjoy them in a sort of passive way. Controversial, but I didn’t enjoy Avengers Assemble nearly as much as I did EoT.

It was in the middle of the sequences where we see Tom Cruise’s Major/Private Cage die over and over again – clips where he’s both hit by and run over by trucks had me giggling more than probably seems reasonable unless you’ve seen the film. They’re so well edited and made to illicit laughs, and they’re fun. And that’s the thing, the laughs aren’t a result of puns or weak jokes (I’m looking at you Avengers), but instead it’s usually through quick editing and visual gags. It was so refreshing.

Credit: Bleeding Cool

Cruise’s Cage is good, going through smarmy, scared, depressed and then true action hero as the film progresses, but for me the film’s true standout was Emily Blunt. It does help that I love Emily Blunt, but her Rita has a lot to do with making the film as fun as it is. Cage is able to be a little more goofy than he would otherwise be able to be if she wasn’t so deadpan and straight. She is also very convincing as an extremely efficient – and scary – soldier, something that more people should have seen coming given her performance in The Devil Wears Prada (a joke, but she was a bit terrifying in that film).

Commendably, the film also manages to make the stakes seem higher than they usually do in Hollywood films. By the end I actually thought (even hoped – more on that later) that each character was going to die, and that maybe, just maybe, they were not going to make it. This is of course a Hollywood film – that doesn’t happen. But it is impressive that I believed that it was just about possible. One major reason for this was the mimics, which were actually a scary enemy for once, given their time-travelling ability and crazy killing skills. Also, there is a sense of the characters’ morality, especially after Cage loses his resetting ability. For the whole film Cruise is not really able to die; after that’s gone, the film manages to feel a bit more claustrophobic and you start wondering just how good Cage really is (and Rita for that matter) – can they actually pull this off? (As an aside, I loved how they filmed the whole sequence where Cruise was underwater, especially the long shot that showed him, the Omega and the Alpha. I was able to appreciate how beautiful it was even as I was waiting for him to die.)

Credit: PetroGX

The ending did irritate me. For once I thought Hollywood was going to do it, let all the main characters die. Or, when they reset, I thought that the mimics wouldn’t have been defeated and they would have to get started all over again on trying to defeat them, maybe in a sequel, or, better still, maybe never to be seen on screen, leaving the fate of Earth ambiguous. Yes, these endings would have been depressing, but they would have also made a nice change to ‘everyone lives, enemy defeated’. Like the Marvel films, no one at all dies, and it’s one of the things that really irritates me about the series. The death of main characters can strike you to the core, and can leave a film truly memorable (or book – for example the Harry Potter series). This instance is not nearly as irritating as Marvel because it’s a one-off and not a series, but even still. I know it’s a Hollywood blockbuster, I know it’s not meant to be heavy entertainment, but it is essentially a war film, not Back to the Future. Imagine Star Wars without the death of Obi-Wan Kenobi; it just wouldn’t have the same emotional punch. I think that if the ending has been a bit more horrifying then I would be rushing to watch this film again. As it is, I really enjoyed it, and would recommend it, but it’s not a classic blockbuster. That’s a shame, because it has so much potential.

Featured image credit: Huffington Post

Have you seen the Edge of Tomorrow? What did you think? Let me know below!