Once I get over my bitterness of the title change from All You Need Is Kill to the tamer but more descriptive Edge of Tomorrow, I think it could be an incredibly entertaining sci-fi action film. It’s been described to me as “Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers”, and the footage we saw definitely conveyed that. Also, mech suits make everything better. Just imagine how much better Terms of Endearment would have been with mech suits.
Hit the jump for my recap of the panel. Edge of Tomorrow opens June 6, 2014.
Producer Erwin Stoff, writer Christopher McQuarrie, director Doug Liman, Emily Blunt, and Tom Cruise take the stage. “Congratulations on being Tom Cruise. That’s awesome,” says moderator Chris Hardwick. We then get to see the first trailer for the film.
It’s a dramatic trailer than felt a bit derivative because it used the same song from the trailer for another alien invasion flick, Battle: Los Angeles. But once you set the marketing similarities aside, you have what could be a very exciting film thanks to the mech suits. I don’t want to boil it down to that, but these trailers are designed to sell action more than plot, and what leaped out to me is that everything isn’t high-tech. One scene has Cruise in his mech suit crawling up a speeding car, and it’s a regular car going through a back country road. It’s an eye-catching blend of future tech and a real setting where “real” is divorced from it’s usually accompanying adjective “gritty”. It’s important to note that the story and character weren’t completely forgotten, and it looked good as well, and I’m intrigued by the relationship between Cruise and Blunt’s characters.
After the lights come up, Liman provides brief recap of the plot, the story takes place in the future, and Cruise’s character has the ability to relive the day, and it’s a critical day when human soldiers are fighting against an alien force. “It’s so rare to find a piece of material that’s so original and also so satisfying,” says Liman.
Asked about the physical part of her role, Blunt says this is the hardest thing she’s done physically. They did a couple months of training, she had to learn Krav Maga, gymnastics, and more. Then they had stunt training and rehersals, and every day they had to get warmed up because the mech suits were so heavy to wear. If you didn’t keep fit, you would throw out your back. “So the suits were about 70 pounds?” asks Hardwick. “We wish,” reply Blunt and Cruise.
Cruise says he was drawn to the project because he wanted to work with Liman, and also what McQuarrie did with the script and the structure was unique. Cruise points out that the alien invasion genre has become a trope and audiences understand the language of it, so people can now get into the fun character journey. He says Blunt’s character is called “Valkyrie 1” and the soldiers call her “The Full Metal Bitch”. But it’s also a great romantic story. Cruise mentions that Bill Paxton is in the movie, and even though he’s in the audience, Hardwicke demands that he comes to the stage. They also say that author Hiroshi Sakurazaka, who wrote the source material All You Need Is Kill is in the audience.
Returning to talking about the film itself, Cruise says everyone was impressed with Blunt not only in her performance but also the physical talent she brought. Blunt returns the compliment by calling Cruise fearless, and since he was going balls-out, she had to do the same.
Paxton says there’s a “colonial marines” vibe, and they brought him along for the Hudson bonafides. “Game over, man!” cries Paxton, and the crowd applauds. Cruise asks for Chet from Weird Science. “How about a greasy pork sandwich served in a dirty ashtray?” says an obliging Paxton.
Cruise says his character is “having a very easy war”, but mistakes he makes in an exo-skeleton during an invasion leads to some serious events. Liman notes that it’s rewarding and surprising to see the actor play scared. Paxton adds that the movie also has a perverse humor that helps buoy it along. He says that Cruise trying to put on the exo-suit for the first time “is like watching a Woody Allen movie.”
Did they draw inspiration from other material in handling the time-travel aspect of the story?
Cruise says that the structure McQuarrie came up with knew how to play it out to keep the narrative going and keep the characters evolving. His character is remembering what’s happening, but the pace has great drive and drama throughout. Blunt adds that the challenge is because while Cruise’s character is reliving each day, she’s meeting him for the first time each day. Liman says that Blunt’s character has the advantage of being smart enough to piece together the reason Cruise keeps reliving each day.
Did Cruise draw on any of his earlier characters for this role.
“No, because with each character, I’m trying to figure out ‘What piece am I playing in this story?’” He adds that there are different kinds of comedy, so how does it fit within the parameters of this story? Stoff adds that everyday was really a surprise in terms of what Cruise did and found about the character.
What was Cruise’s most challenging stunt in the movie?
He says he just wants to find the best way to entertain the audience. He does bring up the exo-suit and says Blunt’s suit was 85 pounds and his suit is up to 120 pounds and it’s tough to learn how to take a fall in a heavy, metal suit. Liman adds that when they say they want to hoist him 100 feet in the air, Cruise responds, “Why not higher?” and then does it all himself. “He’s eeking out a second career as a stuntman, and being great at it.”
After getting over my irritation with “very original” and “so unique” (something can’t be very original and so unique. Originality and uniqueness aren’t measured in degrees; they’re binary), I can understand why the panelists sparked to the material. What was more surprising was the multiple mentions of comedy in the picture, and we saw absolutely none of that in trailer. It’s good to know it’s there because I think that if it the jokes work, they can really help temper the action and drama for what looks like it could be a memorable sci-fi blockbuster.