It's around this time each year that invitations start coming in from the studios wishing to build excitement for their big summer films. The invites are to events that usually consist of some above average canapés followed by 20 or so minutes of 'exclusive' footage from the film and then a Q&A with key talent from the film. The pinnacle of such events was in April 2012 when Ridley Scott, Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace and Charlize Theron all took the stage at Vue West End to preview footage from the then upcoming and eagerly anticipated Prometheus. The buzz in the room was buzzier than a hornet in a bell jar.
Tuesday's event was for Edge of Tomorrow, the Doug Liman directed sci-fi starring Tom Cruise as a military public relations officer who finds himself thrust into front-line battle after a devastating alien invasion. As usual there's a twist, Cruise is stuck in a Groundhog Day style time-loop, destined to repeat the same fateful day over, until something breaks the loop. Whilst the excitement for the preview never got close to reaching Prometheus heights, it was, in fact, a considerably more useful event. Just about everyone had already decided they couldn't wait to see Prometheus and the numerous trailers had already revealed much of the plot, but the jury was still out on Edge of Tomorrow and most people present still didn't know much about the film.
So it's with some relief that I can say that the footage screened has definitely piqued my interest in the film and Edge of Tomorrow has become one of the summer's must-see blockbusters. Whilst many of the plot's elements are derivative, the action was breathless in its intensity and Tom Cruise looks to give one of his more interesting performances for some time, with a surprising amount of comedy, which director Doug Liman was keen to point out. Emily Blunt is always a hugely engaging screen presence and she reportedly spent four months working out to prepare for the role and she certainly looks the part. In a video introduction, Cruise described her character as 'badass' and from the footage she was convincing as a ruthless soldier. What gives the film a more original slant is that Blunt's character is aware of Cruise's predicament, so each day she's able to help him improve his combat skills and find a solution to get him out of the loop.
In the subsequent Q&A, Liman was an engaging and candid speaker. His mind was constantly flitting from idea to idea and he was keen to stress that he hasn't forgotten his 'artsy' roots - his second film, Swingers, is a low-budget cult classic and helped launch the careers of Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau. Liman's big budget filmography includes critical and commercial successes such as The Bourne Identity and Mr. and Mrs. Smith alongside perceived less successful films, like Jumper, and he openly admitted that he always learns from his mistakes.
One of the recurring points throughout the Q&A was Emily Blunt's importance to the film, in providing an unusually strong female lead and also in keeping the production an environment where new ideas could be volunteered. Liman also confirmed what everyone else seems to say, that Tom Cruise is the nicest man in Hollywood to work with. Everyone pulled together, working seven days a week, to produce a film that Liman believes is one of the most original blockbusters for years. The UK was given its props as a shooting location too. Liman praised the standards of UK crews, with most of the film being shot at Leavesden studios and he expressed delight at being able to close down Trafalgar Square for a key action scene.
Superhero franchises in X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and big budget sequels such as Transformers: Age of Extinction and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes are currently dominating the summer landscape but Edge of Tomorrow is going to give them a run for their and your money.