No superheroes. No scaly, dinosaur-sized creatures emerging from the depths of the ocean. And yet, no problem for Doug Liman’s Edge Of Tomorrow, which tackles the tough task of filling the big screen with enough eye-popping visuals to justify the cost of a summer-blockbuster ticket… and maybe argue for the added cost of either 3D, IMAX or both.
Our theatrical review for Edge of Tomorrow weighs in on whether or not Tom Cruise’s science-fiction time jaunt is worth your time (hint: it absolutely is), while this column will focus solely on the film's use of 3D. Considering seven separate categories, To 3D Or Not To 3D evaluates the full scope of the 3D viewing experience. Think of it as a consumer's guide for your movie-going, complete with a viewers poll where you can weigh in on how you plan to see Edge of Tomorrow.
(Note: We screened Edge of Tomorrow in IMAX 3D)
Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow is a movie that exists for 3D. Set in a distant future, it tells the story of a war humanity is waging against an invading extraterrestrial threat. And it’s a war we currently are losing. Much of the film involves a single battle being waged on a beach between military forces and these slinking, tentacled space creatures. Tom Cruise’s character, Major Cage, must relive this fight over and over again, giving Liman ample opportunity to utilize the 3D that's inherent to the situation. It fits beautifully.
Planning & Effort Score
Knowing that they were going to take full advantage of both 3D and the scope of an IMAX screen, Doug Liman and his Edge of Tomorrow team take breathless risks with camera placements to place us inside each and every action scene in the film. Tom Cruise and his squadron plunge down onto a battlefield from an aircraft that has been hit, and Liman uses spectacular aerial photography to place us in the point-of-view of a soldier. Battle scenes between military warriors and aliens practically tumble out into the theater. Even something as simple as a dramatic conversation in an officer’s office seems to place us in the scene. Almost every move in Edge of Tomorrow was made to make great use of the 3D.
Before the Window Score
This is that aspect of 3D that seems to reach right out into the theater, something Edge of Tomorrow does repeatedly. You notice it right away, in a scene that has Tom Cruise arguing with his superior (Brendan Gleeson) over the need to be on the beach alongside a platoon of soldiers. The two are looking at a map, and as the visuals extend into the theater, you FEEL like you are in the room with them. Of course, once in battle, Doug Liman frequently allows alien parts, military weapons, helicopters, cars and multiple hurtling objects to breach the safe zone of the movie’s screen. So many movies released this summer have whiffed on the Before the Window aspect of 3D. Edge of Tomorrow hits a home run.
Beyond the Window Score
I have been talking about the sheer depth of the images on screen for Edge of Tomorrow, and the film’s incredible ability to place us inside of its assorted scenes. This is because the Beyond the Window work is outstanding. Doug Liman shoots vast landscapes in Edge of Tomorrow, and the 3D helps locations such as a military base, or a sandy battlefield, to stretch for an eternity. A little of this is lost in the movie’s jarring combat scenes (and that’s something we’ll address in the Audience Health section), but for the most part, the depth provided by the Beyond the Window work in Edge of Tomorrow is the best I’ve seen.
3D works better in broad daylight. Dark scenes do not benefit from the fact that we have to wear tinted glasses to boost the effect, and so blockbusters have incorporated more daytime scenes to counter the shading. The main battle sequence in Edge of Tomorrow takes places in broad daylight, with Tom Cruise and his squadron fighting against (and fleeing from) deadly creatures while the exquisite 3D places the action right in your lap. Even when Edge has to retreat indoors – or take place in the evening – the scenes are light with enough artificial glow (like from an article known as The Omega) to keep a scene well lit. Some Paris-set fight scenes late in the movie succumb to too much darkness, but overall, the Brightness Score remains high.
Glasses Off Score
The "Glasses Off" score measures just how much 3D you are getting at any one point. Because I was so impressed with the quality of the 3D in Edge of Tomorrow, I kept removing my glasses in different scenes to notice how blurry the images would be. Actions scenes and quieter conversation sequences all carried a significant amount of blurring, suggesting a strong 3D effect for those with their glasses on. Some movies that half-heartedly commit to their 3D effects can actually be watched for long stretches without your glasses on. The images would look exactly the same with or without 3D glasses. Not the case with Edge of Tomorrow, which was a blurry haze every time I removed my specs.
Audience Health Score
This is the only place where I have to dock Edge of Tomorrow some valuable points. Doug Liman wants to immerse the audience in the various battle sequences in Edge of Tomorrow. It’s a selling point of this sci-fi thriller, and we’re supposed to feel Tom Cruise’s panic and fear as this non-soldier is plunged into battle again and again. But in doing so, the 3D is almost a little too much to handle, and I actually saw the image slipping out of focus every once in a while. Sometimes this happens if you tilt your head too much and you see something out of the corner of your eye through the wrong part of your glasses. But the general shakiness of one or two of the action sequences proved disorienting, and it happened a couple of times in Edge. It’s usually fluid. It’s occasionally jarring.
3D SCORES RECAP
P & E
Before The Window
Beyond The Window
Glasses Off Test
Final Verdict: Edge of Tomorrow struck me as having some of the best 3D I could recall seeing in a very long time, and the scores prove it. Doug Liman has imagined some massive action sequences that make spectacular use of both 3D and IMAX. Tom Cruise is his usual energetic self in Edge of Tomorrow, and the film’s 3D enhances his journey, whether he’s training for combat alongside the gorgeous Emily Blunt, or trying to rid our planet of an unwelcome alien threat. Do NOT sleep on Edge of Tomorrow this weekend, people. And go the extra mile for some outstanding 3D.
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