Friday, December 26, 2014
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Blinding neon light and thick smog choke Los Angeles. People drive along the endless labyrinth of roads and interstates to get where they are going. The destination is not important. Not now. They are oblivious to the fate that has already befell them. A bump in the road, an extra drink at dinner, a reckless teenager coming home from a house party. The sparks are visible, the screaming cuts through the thick night air, the steel on the iron horse grows hot. The car flips. All they see is red covering asphalt. How did this happen? A light shines from somewhere above, they look up. Am I dying? A face. Gaunt, focused, horrifying. Whatever it is it cannot be human. It's red eyes glare down at them like two coins made of molten lead. It is the face of the devil, and it is the hour of judgement. "If you're seeing me, you're having the worst day of your life." This devil is Louis Bloom, the main character of Dan Gilroy's debut film, Nightcrawler. A type of cameraman who films disasters as they happen and sells the footage to television stations. He is determined and fierce. Focus like a laser beam. Bloom has the feral look and inherent loneliness of Travis Bickle in Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, but he has the sickening drive and sociopathic tendencies of Daniel Plainview in Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood. Bloom is a hard working maniac fueled by some severely perverted ideas and a need to annihilate the competition. He's Michael Corleone with a camcorder. A malicious grim reaper stalking the streets of LA. Where there is trouble, Lou Bloom is there. With Nightcrawler, Dan Gilroy has crafted a slick, cynical, and over-the-top satire that parallels films like Network. It is massively entertaining, emanating a kinetic energy that keeps a viewer totally sucked in. It's frightening and powerful. Most of the film's muscle comes from Jake Gyllenhaal's performance as the crazed protagonist. Gyllenhaal has been steadily rising as an actor in recent years, being the standout in films like End of Watch, Prisoners, Enemy, and many others. Nightcrawler may be his best yet. Hell, I would even go as far as to say he gives the very best performance of the year. Bug eyed, emaciated, and greasy, Gyllenhaal creates a palpable persona totally his own. He owns the movie like no other actor could. Nightcrawler is a very good movie in many ways, but Gyllenhaal looms over everything like some kind of freakish God, truly inhabiting the role. He is so transcendent here, it's much easier to forgot the movies flaws, which it has a few of. This is Gilroy's first movie, and you can see him occasionally struggling. As I mentioned above, Nightcrawler is a film of many influences. At times, you can see Gilroy leaning too much on them for support. There were a few scenes that seemed directly taken out of Taxi Driver and There Will Be Blood. It's hard to ignore, and does hinder the film at times. Gilroy is working with a few themes here. Media and how we as a society treat it, the bastardization of the American Dream, and greed. He does struggle to really go in depth with some of them, and the movie definitely could have benefited from some more fleshing out. Yet, I still cannot deny how crazy, entertaining, and energetic the film is. Robert Elswit does a fantastic job with the cinematography here. The movie looks great, and there are some landscape shots of LA that are downright haunting. Oscar worthy stuff. It's a wonderfully creepy tapestry of neo-noir and character study. Gilroy has made a good film here. Gyllenhaal has made a great one. Nightcrawler portrays a dark, morally ambiguous, pre-apocalyptic world of greed and evil. It is a fear-inducing world much too close to our own. And one I wouldn't mind visiting again.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Saturday, November 22, 2014
Pulsing, coursing through like a river after a hurricane. It keeps going. It is in a constant state of on. There are no downbeats. You cannot take five. In or out. This is Whiplash. This is cinema. And it dares to ask "What drives a person? What makes one crack?" When someone's skull is constantly pounded, metaphorically speaking, how long before they throw their hands up and go to the head injury ward? How long before they have had enough? Even more so, why go through the torture? Is it worth it? I imagine Damien Chazelle, the director of Whiplash, only has one answer. Yes. Whiplash tells of one man's arduous journey to be the best he can be. Bloody fingers, psychological abuse, and car crashes are not even enough to get in his way. He is an all-devouring bulldozer made of confidence and pure musical talent. A warrior of the auditorium. The first shot of the movie, we see Andrew (Miles Teller's character). We see him through a doorway at the end of a hall, he is drumming. The camera pulls in. His drumming becomes more intense. This is his story, we know this from the start. Chazelle could make this story lengthy and complicated, filling up space with flashbacks and unneeded fleshing out of things that are damn well fleshed out already. A much less talented filmmaker would buckle in some of the more intense scenes. In one of the film's many intense moments, Andrew is center stage playing the drums. One slip up and his musical career is finished. Like Andrew, Chazelle powers through. He keeps things short and too-the-point. Chazelle does not lean on cliches or try and add on more. Economical is a good word to describe it. He does what needs to be done. Whiplash is Chazelle's directorial debut, and reminded me quite a bit of different director's film debut. Reservoir Dogs, weirdly enough. Both movies are exceedingly well-written and trim out the fat. Conversations are snappy and good, but they don't add in unnecessary odds and ends to pad things out. Every scene needs to be there. It can be flashy and showy where it needs to be, but not anymore than that. The flashiest and showiest part of the film is J.K. Simmons' teacher character, Terence Fletcher. A brutal, abusive, scary monster of a man who dominates the screen like he's King Kong when onscreen. Under less adept and much shakier hands, Simmons would be overdone and completely take over the film. At times it seems like he will, but Chazelle knows what he's doing and will always bring the camera back to Teller. He knows what story he's telling, and he'll make sure he's telling it right. What Chazelle also avoids doing is making Simmons so completely evil that he becomes nothing more than a rallying point for Teller's character. A symbol he is not. The teacher is unfathomably brutal. A fireman's hose of anger and insults. Yet, he thinks what he's doing is truly right. He thinks he's a good teacher. A guy who will push his students to be the next greats. This is a man with drive and feeling beneath his skin. He's still evil, but he is more than just an angry face to root against. Hey, even Hitler had emotions. It's just whether one chooses to acknowledge that he did. Chazelle understands fully, and that's one of the many reasons Whiplash succeeds. The film is lean, exhilarating, with one of the best endings I've seen in a while. It's not perfect per se, but it's good! There are all the right cogs, gears, and buttons for a good film. All that's needed is a talented engineer to put it all into place as a fully-functioning machine. Luckily, Whiplash has a damn good engineer.
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Sunday, October 12, 2014
The Master or The Young Man and the Sea: A Deconstruction of Paul Thomas Anderson's Exquisite Masterwork
Friday, October 10, 2014
There's a particular shot, or shots I should say, from David Fincher's newest film that has stuck with me. The first part is a flashback to when Nick and Amy Dunne (played by Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike) had just met. Nothing but good intentions and a bubbly school-kid love between them. Amy leans in to kiss him, and the shot is quickly juxtaposed with Nick being examined by doctor at the police station with a tongue press. He gags on it. The juxtaposition perfectly encapsulates Nick's feelings about his marriage. The kiss to the gagging. He went from a love-stricken kid to a petrified husband with his balls held firmly by his rhymes-with-witch of a wife. One could even interpret it as a metaphor for marriage itself. It's a fairly low-key technique Fincher used, but an incredibly smart and effective one. With Gone Girl, David Fincher gets as fun and pulpy he's been since The Game and still is able to elevate his material to more than just a clever genre film. Gone Girl is based on the 2012 novel of the same name. It's a book I regretfully haven't read, I honestly don't mind. The film works perfectly fine without the flashy reveals and shocking twists, but experiencing those for the first time in clear and bloody celluloid is a devilishly wonderful pleasure of its own. Gone Girl is a man's horrible claustrophobic nightmare that quickly escalates into a psycho-sexual thriller of proportions just insane enough to work. Practically every element of this movie clicks excellently. My only real issue with it was some oddly stilted dialogue in the beginning, mainly in the flashbacks to the early relationship of Nick and Amy. The rest of the movie was terrifically written, so I wasn't exactly sure why those early beginning scenes felt so wrong. On further thought, I realized it's because it IS wrong. It shows that even from the start, the relationship between Nick and Amy Dunne is shaky at best. Their interactions aren't thoughtful or genuine. Amy is hiding behind a veneer and Nick is under her sway. Of course their dialogue is stilted, it's just a reflection of their relationship. Gillian Flynn may be writing a trashy crime picture, but damn can she do it well. It certainly doesn't hurt to have the people attached that the film does. Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike give magnificent and incendiary performances as the two main characters. Affleck has officially proved himself a terrific actor (not that he needed to) and gives a fantastic controlled performance here. Throughout the film you can see his character being trapped in by the media and by everyone around him. Watching Affleck act you can really sense the tension and social claustrophobia that surround his character like a suffocating cosmic blanket. He gives such a great performance, that I was easily able to forget how famous he is. As great as Ben Affleck is here, Rosamund Pike is the real star here. She's always been an incredibly solid actress (ex. The World's End) but has never gotten a real chance to shine. I don't know if Gone Girl is David Fincher's masterpiece, but I think it's safe to say it is for Pike. She plays innocent, evil, manipulative, and sexy like no actress I've ever seen. The best comparison I can make is maybe Barbara Stanwyck or Eva Green. If she doesn't get an Oscar nomination, I will be shocked. Again, of course having Fincher behind the camera always helps things. This isn't his best work, but it's definitely up there. It's no Zodiac, but it doesn't need to be. Gone Girl is a different type of movie. One major complaints from Fincher detractors is that he often employs the style-over-substance technique of filmmaking. That's a remarkably off-base thing to say about his films, especially this one. Fincher uses his camera to create a tone so palpable you could cut it with a knife. You can really feel his talent oozing out of this movie. It's wonderful. The movie has loads to say about the intricacies and failings of modern marriage. It's certainly a cynical take, but a bitingly interesting one at that. Flynn also takes a satiric look at media. Imagine Natural Born Killers but a helluva lot more subtle about its satire. In my mind, Gone Girl is Blue Velvet, meets a killer-woman grindhouse picture, meets neo-noir. And it's all done so, so well. Subverting our views of modern society, and giving us a delicious murder story as cinematically filling as a thick steak. Is Gone Girl one of the year's best films? You bet.
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Saturday, August 2, 2014
I don't think a movie has ever really emotionally effected me quite like this one. After the credits rolled and the film was done, I continued to think about Ingmar Bergman's Persona. I sifted the scenes through my mind, thought about the movie in depth. I found myself shaking. My stomach churned. I was honestly shaken by this movie. It reached into the confines of my psyche and asked me questions about what made me, me. I'm not entirely sure what to make of a film like this. Moments after the movie had finished, I stared at the screen and thought to myself "What the hell did I just witness?". I'm still sort of asking myself that, but in a less condescending manner. Persona is about a nurse (Bibi Andersson) who is tasked with looking after an actress (Liv Ullmann) who, by her own free will, has decided to stop talking. It's about much more than that though. In some ways it's about the human condition and what makes us snap, in other ways it's about films and movies. The film is incredibly aware that it's a movie. At certain points the screen starts rip up as if the film in the projector had caught fire. At another point in the film it cuts to a camera crew and even the director himself, filming the very movie we are watching. I suppose it's the first 'meta' film in that way. I haven't seen anything by Swedish director Ingmar Bergman until now, but if Persona is any judgement of his other work than I'm sure the guy's a genius. Any director that can truly cut to the core of a person through a film is bound to be more than talented. Watching Persona reminded me of another movie I watched this year, Under the Skin. Throughout watching Under the Skin my mind went through a whirlwind of emotions. At first I was confused, and then I kind of liked it, and then I hated it, then I was confused again, and finally I was left in utter shock when it ended, still not entirely sure what my final opinion was on the film. After much thought, I came to absolutely love Under the Skin and have seen it twice now. That's basically how I feel about Persona. A film so strange, off-putting, and hypnotic that I had no idea what to make of it at first but now want nothing more than to see it again. I suppose you could call it a difficult film, and I imagine many people wouldn't like it very much. An understandable opinion, but I do urge you to give it a try with an open mind. It is a truly awesome movie. Some classics, while still good, seem to lose their power with time. Persona is not one of these movies. It is as powerful and scary and interesting as I imagine it was back when it was released in 1966. Practically everything about it is impeccable. The two lead actresses, Ullmann and Andersson, are fantastic. Every scene they're in radiates with dominance and talent. They're in pretty much every scene in the film and really have to devote themselves. They do not disappoint. Bergman, as I mentioned before, does a masterful job really reaching out and disturbing the calm in the audience. He creates such awesome and wonderful tension here that I don't think I've seen in any other films. He can make you sit on edge with nothing more than a closeup. And he holds his shots extremely long, which is very admirable. I often hear people dismiss black and white films, and even more so, foreign films as being pretentious or boring. I do not think Persona is either of these things. It's a classic. What more can I say. A film that's confounding and weird yet so captivating and intriguing. The film is about two different people, a nurse and an actress, who begin to meld personas. What an incredibly strange idea for a movie! But it works very well. And in doing so, creates an experience comparable with nothing else. Persona is a twisted and cool little film I feel will stay with me a long time. I will return to it, and hopefully I'll get even more out of it then. As of now, all I will say is that it is a great movie. I wasn't sure of this immediately after watching it, but am sure of it now. Persona is simply, a masterpiece.
Remember you can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies. Happy Viewing.
Friday, August 1, 2014
Before I justify that, let me give you a little background. I've always deeply enjoyed all of the Marvel superhero fare (discounting the hit-or-miss Spider-man movies). Even their lesser movies are always fun and entertaining. Yet, in my mind, they never seem to truly go beyond one liners and explosions. What I mean by that is that the Marvel films always seem like they're kind of all doing the same thing. They're doing it very well, but most of the films are sort of the same in some way or another. Sure it's all fun, but after a while your Captain America: The Winter Soldier's and your Iron Man 3's start to blur together. That's why the newest Marvel tent pole, Guardians of the Galaxy, feels so refreshing. It's different than the usual Marvel stuff. I'm not saying it's groundbreaking cinema or anything (it's most certainly not) but it is a different kind of movie for Marvel, and that really is a good thing. Imagine Star Wars, Firefly, and Indiana Jones mixed together to a soundtrack of classic 70's pop songs and you'll more or less get this movie. But it's not just reheated 80's adventure films. It does draw inspiration from them, but it's wholly it's own film. Flawed? Of course! But not any more than your average Marvel flick. Guardians tells the story of Peter Quill (a very buff Chris Pratt). A kid from Earth who was kidnapped during his youth and is now a space bandit trying to make a living. Through a series of events involving a mysterious orb and some angry space dudes, Peter winds up in a space prison with a talking raccoon-thing named Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a giant tree with limited vocabulary (Vin Diesel), a very large alien with a death wish, and a murderess who's possibly the daughter of the main villain. Yeah, this movie is out there. But in a good way. Obviously Guardians isn't perfect. The villains are lacking to say the least. There's two main villains and I didn't care about them whatsoever throughout the entire film. Not that I cared, the rest of the movie was so fun I didn't even notice the villains. Some of the fight scenes are pretty poorly directed. It was fairly hard to even see what was going on and kinda took you out of the movie. And there were a few jokes here and there that didn't really land. Otherwise this movie knocks it out of the park. Chris Pratt is a great leading star with a perfect balance between jokey fun guy and commanding action hero. The rest of the cast is solid as well. I'm not very familiar with James Gunn as a writer/director. But I already love the guy. You can feel his presence here. Every song choice and dirty joke flourishes on the screen with an awesome effect not often present in the usual Marvel movies. Practically every moment made me smile and giggle. Next to The Grand Budapest Hotel, this is the funniest film of the year. Hell, I believe it's probably the best blockbuster film of the year. While most of the great films released this year have been more independent art-house movies (Boyhood, Grand Budapest, Under the Skin), I do feel the mainstream cinema has been especially strong. The action blockbusters have been excellent so far (Edge of Tomorrow, Snowpiercer). The superhero flicks have been unusually good (X-Men: DOFP, Captain America 2). Even the children's movies have been more than substantial (The Lego Movie). It really shouldn't be that surprising how great this movie is. It makes Dawn of the Planet of the Apes look like a boring cash-in flick. And I liked Dawn! Guardians is the kind of uber-fun and lighthearted space adventure this generation hasn't really had. This movie is 90% joy, 5% CGI, 4% dirty jokes, and 1% classic pop music. It's 100% good. This movie isn't just for over-excited kids like myself, there's a lot of winks and nods that the adults will enjoy too. It's the kind of film we haven't gotten in a while, and I'm incredibly grateful for it. So see it, hell, see it twice. I'm sure you'll want to. I give Guardians of the Galaxy 4.3 out of 5 stars. Happy Viewing everyone. You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies.
Sunday, July 27, 2014
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
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Thursday, July 17, 2014
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Friday, July 11, 2014
Sunday, July 6, 2014
Totalitarian governments, nuclear fallout, global wars....Our inevitable fate comes in many forms. For certain sociological reasons, movies are much more negative nowadays. Focused on The End. So many films detailing the apocalypse are released. Whether it's The Hunger Games or World War Z, our world seems to be in constant turmoil. Another 'end of world' film has to do something drastically different. It has to be well-done, but also intriguing, smart, exciting, and new. Bong Joon-Ho's Snowpiercer is all those things and so much more. It's an action movie for the ages. The plot of Snowpiercer is cool enough as it is. In the near-ish future of 2031, the entire world has frozen over and most of humanity is extinct. The few remaining survivors have packed onto a giant train that perpetually circles the Earth. This isn't your ordinary train. The train is divided up into classes, or castes if you will. The back of it, the tail, is where the poorest of the poor stay. It is dirty and depressing. The people are hungry and sad. And angry. A revolt is brewing in the air. Then there's the front of the train. Golden, fat, and rich. Instead of starving, these passengers feast on steak dinners and wear decadent colorful clothing. The front of the train is where all control lies. Where the seemingly evil and omnipotent ruler Wilford (Ed Harris) lies. Curtis (Captain America himself, Chris Evans) is a tense and angry man living in the back of the train. He and his friend Edgar (Jamie Bell) are planning a revolt. They have almost the entirety of the back of the train in on it. They're just waiting for the right time. The film starts off with a slow burn, but once the revolt starts, things begin to go bang. Snowpiercer is ridiculously exciting. The thing is, the film only takes place on a train. A big train, sure, but it's still a train all the same. It's impressive how much director Bong Joon-Ho is able to do with the confined space. It reminds me a bit of a foreign action film that came out a few years ago called The Raid. The Raid kept excitement and tension while only taking place in a single building. That's good cinema. Snowpiercer keeps excitement and tension except it takes place on a train. Except Snowpiercer not only is cool and exciting, it has a lot to say. It's more than an action movie. That's great cinema. The film works perfectly well on just an entertainment level. It's got plenty of battles, showdowns, and ticking time bombs for the adrenaline junkie inside you. But it also has things to say about our society and a solid human story. Snowpiercer not only entertained me, it made me feel cinematically nourished. When watching the movie, it soon becomes evident that the train they're on is a microcosm for our society. Films that do things like that can often feel heavy-handed and annoying, Snowpiercer isn't that at all. I feel weird calling a movie like this an epic, but in many ways it is. It's ambitious and magisterial. Epics traditionally take place on a grand scale, like a desert or a large alien planet (think Lawrence of Arabia or Dune). Bong Joon-Ho's direction make the train feel larger than it is. He makes it feel like its own world, because it is in a way. The train is the entire world for the people on board. It's only fitting that it feels that way. The acting here is very solid. Chris Evans is great as the lead hero. He doesn't go too much out of his range, but he holds his own quite well proving he is our next great action star. Tilda Swinton gives what's probably the best performance in the film. She plays a government worker with false teeth and the accent of a English schoolteacher. She's evil, and I wanted her to die the entire time, but she's also very funny and entertaining to watch. None of the rest of the cast really stood out for me. John Hurt plays a kindly and wise old man (a character I felt he'd played before) and Ed Harris didn't do anything I hadn't seen him do. But overall, Snowpiercer is awesome. An intelligent, exciting, and hopeful sci-fi film that we really don't get enough of these days. It'll be one of the best films of the year for sure. I just can't wait to see it again. I give Snowpiercer a 4.5 out of 5 stars. Happy Viewing! Don't forget to throw me a like on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies and follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies.
Thursday, July 3, 2014
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Friday, June 27, 2014
The newest Transformers film takes place after the catastrophic events of the last film. The supposedly good Autobots are now being hunted by the government, apparently no longer being welcome here on planet Earth. Inventor and single father Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) just wants to make some money to put his daughter (Nicola Peltz) through college, but he's having some trouble with it. That is, until he finds a huge beat up truck in a decrepit movie theater. Said truck turns out to be the head Autobot, Optimus Prime. After the CIA raids Cade's barn and threatens the life of his daughter, Cade escapes with Optimus Prime to go fight some alien threat or something. Many explosions and slow motion robot fights ensue. Michael Bay is a director with a penchant for big action films with bigger pyrotechnics. His movies are a violent barrage of actual explosives and expensive CGI. In some ways, I respect the man. People have almost always given him guff about his films. "Too many explosions!" shouts the irritated moviegoers. "I don't care." replies Michael Bay. No matter how much critics have berated his pictures, no matter what people have said, Mr. Bay has still made his big explosive movies the way he wants to make them. Are the movies any good? In my personal opinion, they aren't most of the time. Yet they all fulfill the insane creative vision of one Michael Bay. He makes these convuluted set pieces, massive explosions, and slow motion shots of attractive females. The guy has his own style, and I applaud him for that much. Despite all that, the new Transformers movie is still really bad. So bad it actually made me yearn for the older Transformers films. The film was so atrocious that I actually started to enjoy it's blatant awfulness after a while. At one point, Mark Wahlberg's character crashes a spaceship into a truck carrying Bud Light beer. The driver angrily asks him "Do you have insurance for that?" Wahlberg responds by picking up one of the prominently placed Bud Light bottles and taking a swig from it. It's such obvious product placement I couldn't respond in any other way than confused laughter. The dialogue here is quite awful. Some of it is just plain expository, bland, and boring. Yet, at times it's unintentionally genius. Lines like "My face is a warrant." will go down in cinema history as some of the most befuddling and genuine lines to ever be spoken in a movie. One cannot react in any other way than shock and awe. This film is loaded with problems. They're all just so obvious and consistent that after a while I started not to mind. My biggest problem with this movie was probably it's pacing. People have been complaining about this film's running time, but a long movie isn't a bad thing. I wouldn't mind the film's 165 minutes if it was more enjoyable at times. The robot fights often run several minutes too long and the story is much too confusing and half-baked to really follow. This caused me to slump back in my seat with my eyes glazed over just sort of staring at the images flashing in front of me. What irritates me most about this is that it actually could be good. Imagine if Bay hired a decent writer to do something awesome and creative with this material? Think of The Lego Movie. On first glance it seems like a mediocre kids film designed only to make money. Yet, it's actually a wonderfully creative film that all ages can enjoy and it has plenty to say. What if they did that with the Transformers films? What if instead of a two-plus hour spectacle of constant explosions it was used to convey messages and emotions and a raw human story? Maybe I'm just a romantic, but I imagine a Transformers film where the CGI and pyromania take a backseat to an engaging story with sharp dialogue and memorable characters. A film where the female characters were there for more e than just eye candy. All this technical wonder could pair perfectly with a terrific screenplay. Bay isn't an awful director. If he really applied himself to the right material, he could create something beautiful. But hey, that's just me. For now we'll all have to deal with this unintentionally hilarious explosion fest. At least it's not as bad as The Amazing Spider-Man 2, right? I give Transformers: Age of Extinction 2.5 out of 5 stars.
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Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
When Edge of Tomorrow started its marketing campaign it very much came across as a run-of-the-mill sci-fi action flick that was probably going to be very mediocre. The only reason I was interested in it was because of the cast and the director. Doug Liman, though he's had a few shaky movies since, is the director of the excellent first Jason Bourne film. Emily Blunt was terrific in Looper, and I was looking forward to seeing her do a science fiction flick again. Tom Cruise, despite all the hate he gets, is one of my favorite actors and I'll watch him in practically anything. Plus, Tomorrow is written by The Usual Suspects scribe Christopher McQuarrie. Sure, the trailers looked very bleak and stale. But with the people involved, how could it go wrong? The answer is, it couldn't. Edge of Tomorrow is a fun, exciting, and just really awesome movie. It's the kind of summer blockbuster fare we should be seeing in the movie theaters. It's about William Cage (Tom Cruise) for the army. Aliens have invaded Earth and he's trying to sell the war to the public. A series of events lands him unprepared in the thick of battle. Soon, he dies. But reaction with alien blood makes him relive the same day over and over when he dies. What follows is one of the best action movies of the year. Although Tom Cruise has made some impressive dramatic turns in films like Magnolia and Born on the Fourth of July, recently he's been mainly an action star. Cruise is always able to bring an air of suave badassery to his action pictures. Here, he not only carries that action star persona, but exercises his serious dramatic acting chops as well. The guy is extremely capable of carrying a movie and he shows that here. Yet, he doesn't need to carry the film on his shoulders. Emily Blunt is excellent here. She plays this sort of Joan of Arc type solider who helps Cruise's character defeat the alien onslaught. She's funny, cool, and perfectly delivers some of the films best dialogue. Of course, these great performances wouldn't be much without a script. I can enjoy a decent action flick regardless of a great script. But that doesn't mean the movie will be very good. A film with solid and believable characters and good dialogue can only be good. Edge of Tomorrow is filled with great set pieces and edge-of-your-seat action, but it has a damn good script also. Christopher McQuarrie is a more than capable screenwriter. He's done some great stuff, but he's also done some not so great stuff. This movie is him at his peak. Everything just clicks. The premise may seem a little familiar, and it is. Movies like Groundhog Day have dealt with the living the same day over and over again plot before. And the whole alien thing is nothing new. It's the way McQuarrie crafts his story and his characters that make this film seem fresh. Not only is the film tense and awesome, it's actually very funny. I found myself laughing out loud at some scenes. Weirdly enough, the comedy doesn't feel out of place at all. The terrific cast certainly helps with that also. Doug Liman hasn't really made a great movie in a number of years. Luckily, this is his comeback film. Liman seamlessly directs the action sequences. A movie like this could fall into a jumbled incoherent mess under a different director (think McG with Terminator Salvation). Liman makes it work really, really well. Edge of Tomorrow may seem like just a summer blockbuster, and that is what it is. But it's more than that. It's a good summer blockbuster. Really good. Most big movies seem like they put in human characters and emotion just because they have to. This movie seems like the characters and emotion are in there because the makers of the movie actually want them in there. It's fun and all, but it's also a solid movie on its own. I give Edge of Tomorrow 4.3 out of 5 stars. Remember, to keep up with my reviews and movie stuff in general you can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies.