Edge of Tomorrow- This Tom Cruise action vehicle, directed by Doug Liman, is an occasionally thrilling summer spectacle. Cruise plays Cage, a military talking head who is thrust into a world of combat that he isn’t prepared for. The movie utilizes Normandy invasion imagery to ground its sci-fi trappings. Cage is a man doomed to repeat the same beach invasion every time he is killed in combat. He and Rita (a terrific Emily Blunt) are tasked with stopping the aliens from massacring everyone on Earth, restarting their mission every time Cage dies.
Liman keeps Cage’s repeating day varied, but occasionally indulges in redundant beach combat sequences. The movie doesn’t develop its romance subplot well enough to create a satisfying payoff at the end, but Cruise and Blunt are reliably strong screen presences so it still sort of works. Grade: C
X-Men: First Class Directed by: Matthew Vaughn Written by: Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman, & Matthew Vaughn Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, and Kevin Bacon
Following up his post-modern polarizer Kick-Ass, Matthew Vaughn has decided to make an actual superhero movie. Not only that, but he also decides to make an origin story. It’s hard not to doubt his sincerity, because he had such gleeful fun deconstructing the genre in his blood-splattered last feature.
X-Men: First Class is nowhere near as bleak and melancholy as the original two films directed by Bryan Singer. It takes place in the 60s at the height of the Cold War, with its groovy suits and groovier language. James McAvoy seems to be the only one equipped with that vocabulary, though. Waltzing onto the university scene as a physics professor who also takes shots in the bar with his students, this isn’t the dry, wheelchair-confined Professor Xavier that you’re used to.
Atonement Directed by: Joe Wright Written by: Christopher Hampton (screenplay), Ian McEwan (novel) Starring: Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Saoirse Ronan, and Vanessa Redgrave
Atonement isn’t a time capsule for your grandparents. If you’re looking for the lavish period drama with the costumes as the stars, it’s gone with the wind. This movie, yet another adaptation of a well-received if faded from memory book, is a love story for the modern age; that is to say, a pretty damn depressing one.
The movie starts off on a perfect 45-minute grace note, setting up the passionate exchange between Robbie (James McAvoy) and Cecilia (Keira Knightley). Cecilia is a wealthy daughter of an affluent family, Robbie is not. The thing that separates this fairly common class clash is bitter jealousy, brought along in the form of the innocent young Briony (Saoirse Ronan).