Film Crit Hulk Smash: HULK SMASHES THE PUNY PARADIGMS OF FILM CRITICISM WITH HULK-SIZED SEMIOTICAL ESSAYS ON STORYTELLING, CINEMATIC PRINCIPLES, AND MEDIA THEORY! HULK EVEN MAKE PRACTICAL HOW-TO GUIDES! See More...

Film Crit Hulk Smash: WHY THE EDGE OF TOMORROW ENDING IS GREAT

One one of Hulk's favorite summer movies in years. 

Film Crit Hulk Smash: WHY THE EDGE OF TOMORROW ENDING IS GREAT

HULK'S BEEN PRETTY DAMN BUSY LATELY AND THAT USUALLY MEANS HULK FALLS BEHIND ON MOVIES. WHICH SUCKS, MOSTLY. PARTICULARLY BECAUSE ONE OF THE ONES HULK MISSED OUT ON RECENTLY WAS EDGE OF TOMORROW, WHICH HULK FINALLY GOT AROUND TO WEDNESDAY NIGHT. AND HONESTLY? IT MIGHT BE ONE OF HULK'S FAVORITE SUMMER MOVIES IN YEARS. REALLY. PERHAPS HULK HAS JUST BEEN HUNGRY FOR MOVIES THAT ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND THE CAPACITY FOR SCENE TRANSITIONS. OR STORIES THAT PROPEL YOU FORWARD WITH RAPID, ACUTE DEVELOPMENT. OR STORIES THAT CARE VERY LITTLE FOR OVERT AND UNNECESSARY ADHERENCE TO THE 3-ACT STRUCTURE AND INSTEAD FOCUS ON GETTING US THROUGH EACH SCENE WITH A REAL SENSE OF PURPOSE FOR BOTH EMOTION AND PLOT. OR BEST OF ALL, MOVIES THAT CAN IMBUE CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT INTO THE PROCEEDINGS WITH TRUST IN AN AUDIENCE TO GET THE SUGGESTIONS (SERIOUSLY, THE EVOLUTION OF THE HELICOPTER SCENE DID 13 SCENES WORTH OF STORY IN ONE). ALL OF WHICH MEANS HULK LEFT EDGE OF TOMORROW FULLY SATED TO THE POINT OF ADORATION.

HULK THEN TOOK THIS OPINION TO TWITTER, WHICH HAS BECOME AN INCREASINGLY FUN WAY FOR HULK TO SAMPLE A GENERAL CONSENSUS. THE VAST MAJORITY WERE RESPONSES OF EITHER TOTAL AGREEMENT OR ADMISSIONS TO NOT HAVING SEEN THE FILM YET. AND YES, THERE WERE SOME ECHOES OF "TOM CRUISE THO?" BUT SCREW THAT! WELL-USED CRUISE IS AWESOME AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN. SO REALLY, THE ONLY KIND OF TANGIBLE DISAGREEMENT WAS ALONG THE LINES OF "THAT ENDING THO?"

OKAY.

IT'S ALWAYS DIFFICULT TO TALK ABOUT THIS KIND OF STUFF BECAUSE WHEN IT COMES TO OPINIONS PEOPLE INHERENTLY KNOW THEIR REACTIONS. AND WHY WOULDN'T THEY? IT IS A STATEMENT OF FEELING. WHO IS HULK TO ARGUE THAT AND HOW COULD HULK EVEN DO IT? PEOPLE SIMPLY KNOW WHEN SOMETHING BOTHERS THEM. IT IS INCONTROVERTIBLE. BUT WHEN IT COMES TO PARSING OUT CINEMA, WHAT PEOPLE THEN HAVE TO ASK IS "IS THAT FEELING OF BEING BOTHERED FAIR?" ... IT'S A WEIRD WAY OF PUTTING IT, BUT THAT'S REALLY THE CORE PART OF THE PROCESS. THE PROBLEM IS THAT OUR NATURAL INSTINCT IS TO ALWAYS TAKE THAT BOTHERED FEELING AND USE IT TO DIAGNOSE A PROBLEM, BUT SOMETIMES THIS CAN BE AN ERRANT WAY OF GOING ABOUT IT. BECAUSE SOMETIMES IT MEANS WE'RE JUST TREATING "THE PROBLEM OF THE PROBLEM" AND NOT ENGAGING THE ACTUAL PROPOSITION OF THE STORY. BECAUSE THE TRUTH IS THAT THE BOTHERED FEELING IS EQUALLY SOMETHING THAT CAN BRING YOU TO A PLACE OF GREATER UNDERSTANDING. THAT MAY SOUND CONFUSING BUT THINK BACK TO YOUR EARLY DEVELOPMENT WITH STORIES / MOVIES WHEN YOU WERE YOUNG. THINK ABOUT HOW MUCH OF YOUR VIEWING EXPERIENCE INVOLVES GETTING PAST THE BASICS OF CONFLICT, UNDERSTANDING THE UNREALITY AND GETTING AT THE MEANINGS BEYOND THE DIRECT 1:1 EMOTIONAL TRANSFERENCE OF HOW THE STORY SIMPLY MADE YOU FEEL. BEING ABLE TO ENGAGE THE FILM AND PARSE OUT OUR EMOTIONS IS CRITICAL. AND EVEN NOW, THIS PROCESS IS SOMETHING THAT HULK DOES ALL THE TIME. WHEN SOMETHING BOTHERS HULK, HULK TRIES TO WORK THROUGH THE RELATIVE FAIRNESS OF THAT FEELING AND EXAMINE THE GREATER SENSE OF FUNCTION BEYOND HULK'S OWN REACTION (SOMETHING HULK IS DOING WITH HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 NOW FOR INSTANCE).

THE PROBLEM IS THAT WE ARE PUNY HUMAN BEINGS AND OFTEN HAVE TROUBLE SEEING OUR CURRENT OPINION AS SOMETHING THAT EXISTS ON A TIMELINE OF EXPERIENCE WITH FURTHER EVOLUTION IN STORE FOR US. AT ANY GIVEN POINT, WE INSTEAD PERCEIVE OURSELVES AS BEING AT THE PINNACLE OF OUR DEVELOPMENT, JUST BECAUSE WE ARE ALWAYS MORE EVOLVED THEN WE WERE JUST A MOMENT AGO. AS A CRITIC, IT IS SOMETHING HULK TRIES TO BE PAINFULLY AWARE OF WHILE FORMULATING OPINIONS. THE REVELATION SHOULD NOT BE PARALYZING, MIND YOU; IT'S NOT SOMETHING THAT RENDERS US ALL INTO MEANINGLESS SUBJECTIVITY OF NAKED EMOTION. IF ANYTHING IT'S PRECISELY WHAT SHOULD DRIVE US TO ENGAGE IN A BROADER PERSPECTIVE. AND IT'S PRECISELY WHAT MAKES HULK HUNGRY FOR PEOPLE DEFENDING MOVIES UNDER A CRITERIA HULK NEVER THOUGHT OF. AT THE CENTER OF WHICH IS THE QUESTION: IS THIS FAIR?

TO THIS POINT, THE EDGE OF TOMORROW ENDING IS SPOT ON.

MOST OF ALL BECAUSE IT PERFECTLY NAILS THE METAPHOR FOR ACHIEVING NIRVANA, WHICH, IN CASE HULK NEEDS TO MAKE THAT CLEAR, WAS ABSOLUTELY WHAT THE STORY WAS ABOUT. GOING BACK TO THE CORE HINDU IDEOLOGY, WE REPEAT LIVES GOING FROM THE LOWEST FORMS OF LIFE, LIKE BUGS (IT'S NO MISTAKE HE'S CALLED A MAGGOT WHEN HE WAKES UP EACH TIME), BEFORE WE GO ON TO BECOME THE PUREST, MOST SELFLESS BEINGS WE CAN SO THAT WE CAN THEN GO ON TO NIRVANA. THIS ENDING WHOLLY REPRESENTS THAT JOURNEY (AS DID THE FILM MANY COMPARED THIS TO, GROUNDHOG DAY). BUT STILL MANY FELT BLOCKED IN BY THE BELIEF THAT THE ENTIRE FILM WAS ABOUT HIM ACCEPTING DEATH AND WOULD THEREFORE BE HAPPIER WITH HIS GRAND NOTIONS OF SACRIFICE AND DYING AT THE END. THE THING IS, THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED. HE TOTALLY DOES AND IT SAYS EVERYTHING THAT MOMENT CAN SAY. BUT IT ALSO GOES BEYOND THE NOTION OF MERE SACRIFICE. BECAUSE THE STORY IS REALLY ABOUT BECOMING A DIFFERENT PERSON THAN WHO HE WAS WHEN HE WENT INTO THAT VERY FIRST MEETING WITH BRENDAN GLEESON. AND THIS ENDING FULLY SHOWS THE COMPLETE REVERSAL OF THAT. A NEW EXISTENCE, NIRVANA WRIT REAL, ALL GOING INTO THAT BEAUTIFUL, FINAL MOMENT.

THERE ARE MANY WHO ALSO VOICED SOME WORRY ABOUT THE LOGIC OF THE ENDING, BUT EVERY BIT OF IT IS JUST EXPLAINED BY EARLIER SCENES. AT THE END, HE AGAIN ABSORBS THE CRUCIAL TIME-CENTRIC ALIEN BLOOD AS HE'S DYING AND GOES BACK TO THE MOMENT HE WOKE UP THE DAY BEFORE. THERE ARE MANY WHO HAVE ALREADY GONE ON TO LONG-WINDED THEORIES ABOUT THE ALIEN OR TOM CRUISE CHOOSING TO GO BACK TO THAT MOMENT, BUT THAT'S ALL OUTSIDE THE TEXT. REALLY, IT'S MUCH SIMPLER AND CLEANER THAN THAT, BECAUSE THE ATTACK OF THE OMEGA TAKES PLACE THE NIGHT BEFORE THE BEACH ATTACK, MEANING THE TIMELINE RESETTING TO THE LAST WAKE-UP POINT THE DAY BEFORE IS COMPLETELY CORRECT TO THE LOGIC THE FILM EXPLAINED IN THE FIRST PLACE. SO TECHNICALLY SPEAKING, IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THE LOGIC OF THE ENDING, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THE LOGIC OF THE FIRST EXPLANATION, AND IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT THEN HULK  HAS NO IDEA WHY YOU ARE WATCHING MOVIES. PERHAPS MORE TO THE POINT, IF YOU ARE SAYING YOU CAN'T DRAW BACK ON THAT EARLIER SCENE WHERE IT'S ALL EXPLAINED, YOU ARE INADVERTENTLY ARGUING FOR THE PSYCHO-ESQUE WRAP-UP EXPLANATION, WHICH WOULD BE EMOTIONAL-AND-NARRATIVE-DEATH.

SO IF THE METAPHOR AND LOGIC IS SPOT ON AND FAIR, THEN WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE?

WELL... WHAT HULK IS GOING TO ARGUE THIS IS ALL REALLY ABOUT IS THE NATURE OF TONE SHIFTS. PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT HULK'S NOT BRINGING THIS UP AS SOME WAY OF CONFINING YOU TO THIS THINKING, JUST NOTING THAT IT REALLY SEEMS TO BE THE PREVALENT THING IN MOVIE-GOING TODAY. GENERAL AUDIENCES ARE EXTREMELY SENSITIVE TO TONE SHIFTS. IT'S OFTEN WHY HORROR COMEDIES DO SO BADLY OR WHY BIG TWISTS OFTEN DON'T WORK. NOT BECAUSE THE LOGIC AND MOTIVATIONS OF THE MOVIE HAVE CHANGED IN SAID TWIST, BUT FAR MORE IF IT CHANGES THE KIND OF MOVIE IT IS. REALLY, PEOPLE JUST DON'T LIKE THE FEELING OF A TONE SHIFT. THEY ENTER A MOVIE AS A KIND OF SOCIAL CONTRACT. WHETHER IT'S HAPPY, SAD, GRITTY, WHAT HAVE YOU, THEY SETTLE INTO IT. AND WHEN THE MOOD SUDDENLY SHIFTS, THEY FEEL THE CONTRACT OF WHAT THEY WERE EMOTIONALLY EXPERIENCING IS BROKEN. AGAIN, THIS MAY SOUND LIKE CONFINING CHARACTERIZATION, BUT HULK IS JUST AS SUSCEPTIBLE TO IT AS ANYONE ELSE. THE KEY, LIKE WITH ALL OF MOVIE-WATCHING, IS TO BE ABLE TO CONTEXTUALIZE IT INTO WHETHER OR NOT THE SHIFT IS FAIR AND EARNED. AND HULK IS JUST TRYING TO ARGUE THAT SOME FOLKS GET SO LOCKED INTO THE UNLIKED FEELING OF THE TONE SHIFT TO THE POINT THAT THEY'LL IGNORE THE THEMATIC AND LOGICAL ARGUMENTS FOR WHY IT IS WHOLLY VALID AND PURPOSEFUL.

TO BE HONEST, HULK HAS INCREASING TROUBLE WITH THE CATCH 22 OF THIS PARTICULAR ARGUMENT. BECAUSE ALL HULK IS TRYING TO ARTICULATE IS A MERE FUNCTION OF HOW CINEMA WORKS, BUT 1) PEOPLE GET CAUGHT UP IN THE IDEA THAT YOU ARE SAYING THEIR EMOTIONS ARE "WRONG" AND 2) PEOPLE DON'T LIKE THE FEELING OF BEING BOXED INTO SOMETHING WHERE HULK IS ESSENTIALLY ARGUING "YOU ARE OVERREACTING TO A SUBCONSCIOUS EMOTIONAL CHANGE" - WHICH CAN'T HELP BUT COME ACROSS AS ASSUMPTIVE, GROSS, PATRONIZING OR BELITTLING. BUT THE PROBLEM IS THAT MOVIES ARE BUILT TO WORK ON SUBCONSCIOUS, EMOTIONAL LEVELS. AND AGAIN, HULK IS WORKING RIGHT FROM THE SAME EMOTIONAL PLACE AND IS THUS JUST TRYING TO ESTABLISH THIS IS WHERE WE ARE BOTH COMING FROM. AND ONCE WE ACCEPT THAT, HULK'S SIMPLY MAKING AN ARGUMENT FOR WHY IT WORKS. DOES THAT DISTINCTION MAKE SENSE? HULK DESPERATELY WANTS THIS TO MAKE SENSE. IT'S NOT JUST AN ARGUMENT FOR AN OPINION, BUT AN ARGUMENT FOR A PROCESS. AND THE FUNNY THING IS THE MORE HULK HAS DIVORCED HULK-SELF FROM THE SANCTITY OF EMOTIONAL TRANSFERENCE, THE BETTER HULK HAS BECOME AT ENGAGING A MOVIE ON ITS OWN TERMS, WHICH HAS THE ADDED BENEFIT OF GAINING EVEN MORE WAYS TO BE ENGAGED AND DELIGHTED BY THE BREADTH OF CINEMATIC FUNCTIONS OUT THERE. AND BY REFLECTING ON THOSE ELEMENTS WITHIN THE POPULAR REACTION, THE BETTER HULK HAS BECOMING AT UNDERSTANDING HOW MOVIES AFFECT PEOPLE ACROSS THE BOARD.

ALL OF WHICH IS PARTICULARLY CRITICAL HERE BECAUSE EDGE OF TOMORROW SPENDS SO MUCH OF ITS RUNNING TIME JUMPING ABOUT WITH TONAL DEXTERITY. IT FLOATS BETWEEN BEING DARK, SILLY, WITTY, BADASS AND WHOLLY EMOTIONAL, DEPENDING ON THE PERFECTLY ARTICULATED NEEDS OF THE MOMENT. IT'S IN COMPLETE CONTROL. AND IT ALL BUILDS TO A CRUCIAL POINT OF EMOTIONAL RELIEF AND CATHARSIS. HONESTLY, HULK CAN'T REMEMBER THE LAST TIME HULK WAS THIS SATISFIED WITH SOMEONE EARNING THEIR HAPPY ENDING. AND PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT HULK'S NOT DOUBTING THAT THE ENDING MADE YOU FEEL LIKE SOMETHING WAS WRONG, BUT HULK STILL PASSIONATELY ARGUES IT IS AN ENDING DESERVED.

AND FOR THAT, HULK GOT TO THAT VERY LAST MOMENT OF EDGE OF TOMORROW AND HAD THE SAME EXACT REACTION THAT TOM CRUISE DID.

<3 HULK

Film Crit Hulk's photo About the Author: FILM CRIT HULK WAS CREATED IN A CHAOTIC LAB EXPERIMENT INVOLVING GAMMA RADIATION, TELEPODS, AND THE GHOST OF PAULINE KAEL. NOW HULK HAVE DEEP AND ABIDING LOVE CINEMA.
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