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Arts & Entertainment Presented by Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts

Cinema in Focus

Cinema in Focus: ‘Edge of Tomorrow’

By Hal Conklin and Denny Wayman | @CinemaInFocus |

3 Stars — Thought-provoking

If Earth were to be invaded by another galactic species, what would they be like? Would they be prone to violence, destruction and annihilation of the human race? Or, would they be highly evolved in transcendent skills, modeling an evolved ability to love and think with a god-like ability? If we look to Hollywood as the home of prophecy, then "others" in the universe will see us as something to be eliminated above all else.

Such is the species that comes to Earth in Edge of Tomorrow.

Tom Cruise as an American Army officer named Cage is at the center of a unique story of war and salvation. Taking us on a journey that is similar to Groundhog Day, Cage is living the same experience over and over again until he gets it right.

Cage finds himself involved in fighting a war against an alien force against his will, and against his rank and place in the Army. It looks like a situation that will quickly lead to his death, but he finds through a quirk of fate that he has the ability to step back in time and learn the tricks that his enemy possesses. Over and over he experiences death on the battlefield, only to find himself having to live out the experience again.

His partner in this bizarre round-trip is Rita (Emily Blunt), who is an expert trainer in warfare techniques. Her liaison with Cage is initiated by her recognizing Cage's temporal ability since she, too, has experienced this revolving door through personal experience. This mental phenomena turns out to be the result of the highly evolved energy field of the enemy. It is an ability that can become transferred to humans under certain conditions that both Cage and Rita experienced.

Needless to say, the world is saved in the end, but the story is a wild ride and the prophets of Hollywood are probably concocting the next attack from the great beyond.

Edge of Tomorrow raises interesting questions about the nature of the universe. If those on Earth accept the premise that the universe was created or evolved from a higher power, or whether one just believes that the universe is transcendent in its evolution, why is it that we presume that other highly evolved species are evil in nature throughout the cosmos? Why are they not more like what we expect God would be like? An easy answer would be that it wouldn't make for a suspenseful movie.

The question, though, is whether we would be prone to compassion and love if we met an alien culture from space — or from another place on this planet? What would our gut reaction be?

Edge of Tomorrow may take Cage through repeated days of experience to learn how to defeat an enemy. Our lesson may be that we have to practice over and over again how to live in transcendent and redeeming victory over such evil.


» Assuming that there are creatures from other planets, do you believe they will be compassionate or destructive? Why do you answer as you do?

» Being able to control time would be a real advantage in life. What would you do if you could control time and do over?

» Often the imagination of our creative people use their gifts to create movies about violence. Why do you believe this is so common?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.

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