“Edge of Tomorrow”

A sci-fi “Groundhog Day”

“Groundhog Day” worked. It’s a classic. But the imitators that followed didn’t’ come close to its success . There was Dennis Quaid and the attempted Presidential Assassination in the 2008 film “Vantage Point” and the Duncan Jones (David Bowie’s very talented son) sci-fier “Source Code”, with a bomber on a Chicago commuter train.

Based on a popular book, “Edge of Tomorrow” is Tom Cruise’s 9th thriller (or sci-fier). This time he’s a reluctant soldier who’s stuck in a relentless time loop, at war with aliens alongside Emily Blunt , who plays a goddess warrior. This is not your typical Tom Cruise action flick. He’s an untrained, terrified soldier thrown into a war where he dies within minutes only to reset and relive his demise over and over and over til he gets it right. He learns more and more each time. The thing is, each day he re-lives, he has to reintro himself to Blunt’s warrior goddess (Rita Vrataski) because an alliance with her is the ony way to win this battle, much less the war with the aliens. So it’s also a sci-fi version of the Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore rom-com “50 First Dates”. But there’s just a hint of romance in “Edge Of Tomorrow”.

Directed by Doug Limon of “The Bourne Identity”, the action keeps you on edge. But I still found it tedious to basicallyrelive the same scene over and over and over. It was fun seeing Cruise play against type. Basically he’s dragged kicking and screaming into battle. He’s a wuss who’s forced to become a man. And there’s a good dose of humor thrown in.

Why they came up with the soap opera-like title “Edge Of Tomorrow” is a mystery. Why didn’t they stick with the title of the 2004 book “All You Need Is Kill”? While that will have you scratching your head, so will the ending.

2-and-a-half stars

“The Fault In Our Stars”

A “Terms of Endearment” for a new generation.

Based on the young adult best stellar, you could easily write this one off as a sappy when-cancer-meets-Romeo-and-Juliet. That would be a huge mistake. Yes- this is a tearjerker. How can it not be??!! Two teens with cancer find love in a cancer support group. This is a funny sad story (as strange as that sounds) and actually one of the best of the year, thanks to writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber of “(500) Days Of Summer” fame , director Josh Boone and of course Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, who play brother/sister in “Divergent”. Laura Dern is quite effective as her mom. Willem Dafoe has a small but pivotal role, alongside a terrific Nat Wolff (“Palo Alto”) as a friend who’s about to lose his eyesight to cancer.

While this sounds depressing, these cancer patients have no self-pity. If anything, this all about LIVING and LOVING. Our couple most-unlikely-to-have-a-happy-ending are acerbic, intelligent and anything but maudlin. This is not just a great teen romancer, it’s a great romancer , period. But yeah- bring the Kleenex.

4 stars

"The Moment"

A psychological thriller starring Jennifer Jason Leigh in a who-done-it that’s never solved.

Jennifer Jason Leigh is strong and totally believable as a war correspondent suffering from post-traumatic stress alongside motherly guilt after choosing career over her only child, played by Alia Shawkat. That’s just about the only thing that’s clear-cut in this film. It begins with Leigh’s character, Lee, showing up at the home of an ex (Martin Henderson) to retrieve her camera, only to find him missing and the house in complete disarrary, with flies covering an uneaten meal. Was he killed? Is he just missing? Meat Loaf plays a cop who aims to find out.

It’s infuriating that we never do find out what happened. This is a total WTF with repetitive and sometimes disjoined flashbacks. Making things more confusing, Henderson plays two roles: the missing ex and a fellow patient at a psychiatric treatment facilty where Lee ends up , after she’s convinced she killed her ex-love. Marianne Jean-Baptiste plays her shrink. There’s nothing to fault in the acting. It’s just the story is left up to us to resolve.

In the end, I felt cheated. Movies deserve an ending!!!!

2-and-a-half stars