Category Archives: movies

Edge of Tomorrow – movie review

Stars: 5 out of 5

I must admit that I was rather skeptical when I went to see this movie. For one, I am not a huge fan of Tom Cruise, because I feel like he has been playing the same character in almost all of his last movies. Also, as far as science fiction movies go, Hollywood hadn’t had a particularly good track record in the past ten years or so. I mean, seriously, name at least one really good sci-fi movie from the past decade that is not a remake? I can’t.

Life. Die. Repeat.
Life. Die. Repeat.

Anyway, I went to the movies not really expecting much from the Edge of Tomorrow. The kids wanted to see it, so I was just resigned to spend a couple hours enjoying the popcorn and the special effects and banging my head on the front sit at all the plot holes and inconsistencies. Boy, was I wrong. I absolutely LOVED that movie. It had me hooked and at the edge of my sit from the very start.

William Cage (Tom Cruise) is sent into battle, quite against his will, as part of a major military operation against a race of aliens called Mimics. His regiment lands on a beach in Normandy only to discover that the Mimics are waiting for them. The soldiers are desperately outnumbered and outmatched, and are getting slaughtered. Cage manages to kill a Mimic by blowing it up with a pack of explosives, but he dies in the process as well… only to wake up again at the beginning of the same day. From now on and during the whole length of the movie, Cage will be caught in this time loop when he is forced to relive the day of the assault over and over again, returning to the beginning every time he dies. He remembers every single time he dies as well, but nobody else does. Live. Die. Repeat, as the movie poster says.

To my own surprise, I really liked Tom Cruise as William Cage. He does a very good job showing his character’s growth from this spineless coward tossed into battle against his will to a war-weary veteran willing to sacrifice himself in order to secure the victory humanity so desperately needs. The transformation is progressive and believable. You can see how the fact that Cage is forced to relive the same day over and over forces him to change.

I also loved Emily Blunt as Rita Vrataski. Rita is a strong woman and a true soldier, and she understands exactly what Cage is going through because she had been caught in a time loop of her own as well at a previous battle in Verdun. Only she lost that ability after that battle, so now she can’t reset the day anymore and doesn’t remember when it repeats.

The Angel of Verdun
The Angel of Verdun

It’s nice to see how their relationship grows from reset to reset, how Cage come to progressively care about Rita. And I loved the fact that Tom Cruise manages to convey that attachment with minimal pathos. There is an episode where they are in a car and Cage asks Rita about a name she told him during their previous reset. Rita doesn’t want to talk about it, but when pressed, says that he was a friend, even more than a friend, and that she had to watch him die 360 times. And she remembers every single one of them. She also says that Cage wouldn’t understand. Cage doesn’t say a word, but the look he gives her at that moment is so full of different emotions – love, fear, grief, loss, tenderness. Big kudos to Tom Cruise for managing to convey all that with just one look.

I liked the fact that this movie had the right mixture of action, drama and humor and almost no pathos at all. And without those long-felt monologues and patriotic speeches, the impact of what’s happening on the screen is even more visceral. Even the ending is exactly like it should be – no words, no “they kissed and rode into the sunset together.” It ends with a smile and endless possibilities.

So to sum it up, this is one of the best science fiction movies I have seen in a long time. If you haven’t seen it yet, go see it now!

I also discovered that it’s based on All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, so now I’m definitely going to read the book as well.

Do you need to be married to your job to be good at it?

This post was born out of a brief exchange I had with a friend on Twitter. She had mentioned that in all the popular TV shows, the cops always hang around the office after hours (and sometimes late into the night), even after the case is done. Why don’t they go home? Don’t they have a life outside their work?

That conversation made me think. I also took a hard look at the shows I like on TV to see if I could confirm or deny that statement. Well, the verdict isn’t pretty – it seems like the TV wants us to think that you cannot be a good specialist (be it a detective, a CSI, an agent, etc.) unless you are literally married to your job.

 NCIS crew courtesy CBS NCIS crew courtesy CBS.

In NCIS, for example, Gibbs has been divorced three times and the relationships he had during the show never lead anywhere. He lives in a house that looks more like a cheap and ran down motel and spends most of his time in the basement working on a boat. Ducky was sharing his home with his mother until she passed away and now lives alone. As far as we know, he has never been married and is not in a relationship. Tony’s romantic life had been a train wreck after train wreck. All of them practically live at work.

CSI, another popular series, also shows us a group of workaholics with almost non-existent social lives or failing relationships. Nick, Greg, Julie and Morgan are all single. Sara’s relationship with Grissom ended a few seasons ago and Brass still has problems with his ex-wife and step-daughter. Heck, even the family man D.B Russell is starting to feel the strain in his personal life.

CSI courtesy CBS.
CSI courtesy CBS.

And there are plenty more shows like that. Heck, the latest example of this was shown in Rizzoli and Isles, when Jane chose her career over marriage to the man she loved, because it meant following him around.

My problem with that portrayal is that it slowly convinces the viewers that if you want to be good at your job, you need to prioritize it above everything else, personal life included. You need to be married to it, even obsessed with it.

Well, I have a beef to pick with that. First of all, obsession is never healthy. Also if you structure all your life around one single thing, once this thing taken from you, your life crumbles. Have you noticed that when those series show us a retired cop, he is usually either a heavy drinker, struggles with depression or bitter at the world? And how many characters took their own lives when they were declared unfit for duty for one reason or another?

I don’t agree that you have to sacrifice everything to be good at your job. I think that in order to be good at something, you need to be a healthy and balanced person. That means having more than one “obsession”, a hobby that you would enjoy doing during your free time, plenty of friends (and not only colleagues), and a good family life / personal relationship. That way, if disaster strikes and you fail at one aspect of your life, you still have all the others to fall back to and help you through. And your work won’t suffer too much, if you leave on time to enjoy a good dinner with your family. On the contrary, you might come to work happier the next day and ready to tackle oncoming challenges.

So that’s the characters whose stories I want to read and watch. I want well-rounded people. I want people who are not defined only by their job, who can balance profession and personal life, and be happy doing both. Those people are not boring. They have their own challenges to overcome. And there is so much more that can be done with characters like that as an author.

So what do you think? Do you think that being married to your job is unhealthy? Do you think that we, as authors need to create more in-depth characters who actually have a life to come home to? I would love to hear from you all.

Third Star made me rethink my life.

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Watched Third Star a couple weeks ago, but it took me that long to actually sit down and write a review. I had to let some time pass and wait until the raw emotions this film provokes settle down a bit. I can say this – it’s one of the best movies I have seen this year, but I will admit that not everyone will like it.

Basically, if you are looking for a an easy, switch your brain off and laugh out loud movie , walk away. Third Star is anything but easy, though it has some funny moments. If you are looking for two hours of eye popping non-stop action, chose something else to watch. But if you want a movie that grabs you and takes you on an emotional roller coaster, a movie that makes you laugh and cry and hurt with its characters, a movie that leaves you with many things to think about once it’s over – by all means, buy Third Star.

The main premise is common enough: four childhood friends – James (Benedict Cumberbatch), Davy (Tom Burke), Bill (Adam Robertson) and Miles (JJ Feild) embark on a road trip to James’s favorite place on Earth – Barafundle Bay in Pembrokeshire, Wales. But this is where this trip differs from countless other road trip movies. James is terminally ill with cancer and his friends decided to organize this trip as their last adventure together. This is not a spoiler. In fact the movie starts with James saying “I am 29 today. I won’t be 30.”

So this movie is a road trip, yes, but one that is also a goodbye –  goodbye to a friend, to childhood memories, to dreams not fulfilled and paths not taken. And while all four of the protagonists do their best to ignore the elephant in the room (James’ sickness), they will have to face it eventually, as they will have to face their own shortcomings and lost dreams.

It is hard to describe this movie. Yes it is sad and the ending is hearth-wrenching and had me really crying, which not a lot of movies do. But you know what? It’s also filled with beauty and subtle humor and you can really see how much those four care about each other.

To me, this is what this movie is about – love. Those four friends really love each other and they genuinely care about James or they would never be able to make the decision they made at the end of the movie. And they all love life and see the beauty in the little things around them.

All four actors gave exceptional performances for Third Star. Nothing is overplayed or heavy-handed. I believe them when I watch them interact on screen. I forget that it’s Benedict Cumberbatch and JJ Feild, instead I only see James and Miles. That is the highest praise you can give an actor.

But most importantly for me at least, this movie made me think. We all have dreams and things we want to do eventually, one day, when we have time. And after a while, like James says, “all those daydreams become fantasies rather than possibilities.” Well what if there is no more time? What if the next day is your last one? What would you see when you look back at your life? What happened to all those possibilities and dreams?

This movie made me think about what I really want to do with my life. And you know what? I don’t want my dreams to become mere fantasies. I want to fulfill them, even if it will be hard work. So for this realization I must thank director Hattie Dalton and Western Edge Pictures and the main actors.

And for those who want to spend two hours with a good movie that makes you sympathize with its characters and think about life and death, watch Third Star. It’s available for download from Amazon or on ITunes.