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The Fault Is In Our Stars

Edge Of Tomorrow

June 12, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars (***) PG-13

The thing that I keep hearing regarding John Green’s bestselling Young Adult novel from 2012 The Fault in Our Stars is that it seems to ‘get’ the generation of teens who are coming into their own these days. Having not read the book as of yet, I’m not sure if the film version is going to pull off the same trick but I will say that on its own The Fault in Our Stars is at times an intensely moving story of doomed love, and that’s a good thing.

Being a tale of doomed love, the pic makes one ponder the question, isn’t all love, a doomed love? Any relationship between two people will, inevitably have to end either in divorce or if the relationship beats the odds and succeeds, in death. Either way you can’t win. The characters at the center of this film figure this out much sooner than most people and ultimately experience a lot of love in a short amount of time. I guess on that level, perhaps, the film can be an inspiring experience as well.

Shailene Woodley (Spectacular Now, Divergent) is one of the best young actresses around in my humble opinion. Here, she holds the picture together as the central character and narrator, Hazel Grace Lancaster. Hazel was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at age 13 and it has now spread to her lungs, although she’s in remission as the film begins.

Woodley & Elgort in ‘Stars’

She chances to meet fellow cancer patient, Gus Waters (Ansel Elgort) at a support group and he falls in love with her immediately. Hazel is a bit more cautious, but Gus, sensing time is not on their side, throws all caution to the wind in his efforts to win Hazel’s affections. It certainly helps to make his case when he snags an opportunity for Hazel to meet her favorite author (Willem Dafoe) in Amsterdam. However, life, as we know, has some surprises that the two eventual lovers could never have foreseen.

What’s refreshing about the film is its sense of humor. With a lesser talent behind the camera, the film could have easily turned into a maudlin affair. That’s a testament to director Josh Boone and co-writer (and author of the book), John Green. The filmmakers manage to keep the emotional stuff at bay until about the last forty minutes or so. From there on out, it’s advised to have handkerchiefs and Kleenex nearby.

If there is a complaint to lobby against the film, it would be that some of the adult characters, particularly Gus’ parents, are underwritten. I would like to have known a bit more about their struggles as parents dealing with these sorts of issues but The Fault in Our Stars is a film about a doomed young love and not about the adults in the picture, I guess. On that level it succeeds wholeheartedly and will move most who see it in many ways, big and small.

Edge of Tomorrow (** 1/2) PG-13

A while back I opted to introduce my teenaged daughter to the 1989 film Born on the Fourth of July, a film which netted Tom Cruise an Oscar nomination. She remarked that it was odd to see Mr. Cruise actually playing a character rooted in some semblance of reality, something that most people of her generation aren’t aware that the actor is capable of doing. You really can’t blame them when, in picking his film projects, Cruise insists on constantly reminding audiences that he is an action star, first and foremost.

Cruise’s latest film, Edge of Tomorrow, is more of the same type of bland, warmed-over action fare that has become a staple much too often, here of late, in the career of the box office powerhouse. It fits somewhere in line with the actor’s last two pictures, Oblivion and Jack Reacher, neither of which will remembered a decade from now or heck, probably five years from now. It has its pleasures and a few rousing moments thrown into the mix from time to time but it’s hard to imagine anyone mentioning the film in the same breath as Rain Man anytime soon. I definitely think it’s time that Cruise takes a break from attempting to save the world.

The film is based on a Japanese novel titled All You Need is Kill, a moniker which served as the pic’s title until studio marketing heads prevailed and decreed a different name altogether.

Emily Blunt & Tom Cruise in ‘Edge’

Not that it’s going to help matters because anyone with sense enough to tie their own shoelaces can see that the film is basically Groundhog Day, albeit devoid of the laughs found in that film.

Or you could also compare it to many other films with that same conceit, Source Code, 12:01, etc. You can fill in the blank.

At any rate, Cruise is military PR guy, William Cage, who’s forced to go into action at the behest of his superior officer (Brendan Gleeson). However, instead of battling opposing military forces, he’s up against a race of aliens known as the Mimics, which sounds like the name of a punk band from the 1980s. Once he’s thrown into battle and killed, he begins to experience the same day over and over again. Eventually, realizing something is off kilter, Cage attempts to articulate to his comrades what he’s experiencing but finds it hard to find anyone to believe him. That is until he connects with Rita (Emily Blunt), a female military grunt who seems to know something about what’s going on.

Edge of Tomorrow is directed energetically by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Swingers) and has some surprises from time to time that will keep viewers from completely checking out of the plot proceedings. Still, the film can’t help but suffer from a sense of déjà vu that casts a shadow over things. Perhaps it’s because we’ve seen this plot recycled too many times but whatever the case, Edge of Tomorrow isn’t likely to set the world on fire in a way that Mr. Cruise may have hoped.

Questions or comments? Write Adam at filmfan1970@hotmail.com.

 

 

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