Live. Die. Repeat. – “Edge of Tomorrow” gets its 4K disc release!


4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS

Tom Cruise plays Major William Cage stuck in a “Groundhog Day”–like loop during a war with protean aliens.


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“EDGE OF TOMORROW”

4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, Digital copy; 2014; PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, profanity and brief suggestive material; streaming via Amazon Prime Video (4K), Apple TV (4K), Vudu (4K), YouTube (4K)

Best extra: “Storming the Beach” featurette











AT LEAST 1,600 days ago, this sensational sci-fi action film premiered on digital platforms in 4K/HDR. Certainly, it was a bizarre decision by Warner Brothers to bypass a physical 4K disc release of “Edge of Tomorrow” in 2018.

Especially since it checked all the 4K boxes for a top-flight disc release:

No. 1 – A sci-fi action film, with two major stars, Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. The sci-fi genre has dominated sales since the launch of the 4K disc format in 2016.

No. 2 – First-rate visual effects and a ROCKING bass-heavy soundtrack.

No. 3 – A compelling storyline with Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) and commando Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) stuck in a “Groundhog Day”–like loop during a war with protean aliens.

No. 4 – Audiences and critics both gave it high marks – over 86 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

The only negative was its below-expectations box office and home video returns. It still earned $370 million worldwide, but was weighed down by a production budget of nearly $200 million for the massive amount of VFX shots. Some speculate its title was also a stumbling block. So, when it landed on DVD and Blu-ray before streaming platforms really took off, Warner decided to repackage it with a prominent tagline “Live. Die. Repeat” echoing Cage’s response to his ongoing time-loop. Even so, its video performance was sluggish, barely making the top 50 video sales for 2014, landing No. 45, with a grand total of 1.2 million units sold. Disney’s “Frozen” topped the list at 18 million units, with the second installment of the “The Hunger Games” series, “Catching Fire,” at No. 2, with 6.2 million sold.


(1) Major Cage arrives at the United Defense Force headquarters in London. (2&3) General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) has kept the Mimics from crossing the English Channel. The general orders Maj. Cage, a U.S. military public relations officer with no combat experience to document the first wave of soldiers during the operation to retake Europe from the aliens. (4) The Major disobeys the order and he’s arrested, handcuffed, demoted to private, and assigned to J Squad. (5) Sergeant Cruel (Terence Maynard) tells Cage, “On your feet, maggot!” (6) Master Sergeant Farell (Bill Paxton) welcomes Private Cage to J Squad.





To rectify the absence of a physical 4K disc, Warner finally released “Edge of Tomorrow” earlier this month. The three-word tag is still on the new 4K jacket, but pushed toward the background of the design, while “Edge of Tomorrow” takes the prime spot on the front and the jacket spine.

Whatever the delay, thousands of 4K enthusiasts are now happy. Actually, Warner may have been waiting to ride the coattails of Cruise’s “Top Gun: Maverick” – since it was originally scheduled to hit theaters in June 2020, but was pulled because of COVID-19.

VIDEO

Director Doug Liman (“Bourne Identity,” “Swingers”) and cinematographer Dion Beebe (“Memoirs of a Geisha,” “Chicago”) captured all of the action with Panavision 35mm film cameras (2.39:1 aspect ratio), but with more than 400 VFX shots, it was mastered in 2K to save time and money. The 4K disc is a major upgrade over the enclosed eight-year-old 1080p disc. There’s more clarity, showing distant objects including the legibility of European countries on the huge electronic map in General Brigham’s (Brendan Gleeson) office. The first VFX aerial shot overlooking Heathrow Airport, filled with tens of thousands of troops and dozens of aircraft based on the Bell Boeing Osprey, is more defined. The natural film grain is also more pronounced on the 4K disc than on the 4K digital and Blu-ray.

HDR toning is much darker, especially the mid-tones and highlights, which are blown out in many scenes on the Blu-ray. For the first time, there are more clouds on the distant horizon with the standard HDR10 – while, strangely, the digital 4K only got the more advanced Dolby Vision. The earthy color palette of browns and greens is richer and deeper, while the shadows are darker without losing detail.



(1-3) D-Day 2020 and the United Defense Forces head toward France, but the invasion was a trap since the Mimics were waiting for them. (4-7) Cage encounters the famous Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) who kills an alien that explodes. (8-10) Cage manages to kill a huge alien “General” but its blood kills him.




AUDIO

The 4K disc and digital both include an eight-channel Dolby Atmos soundtrack, with plenty of immersion for height speakers and rear speakers, showcasing explosions, blasting guns, and Christophe Beck’s orchestrated score. The dialogue is never lost. Watch out during the first 20 seconds when subwoofers are pushed to their limits. My setup handled it just fine when played at normal cinema levels, as the deep, deep bass pushed the volume level to around 104 decibels, and low-end frequencies dropped off around 30hz. The digital Atmos runs at least five decibels lower in volume, so you’ll need to crank it up. Plus, it's slightly compressed and falls short of the full dynamic range of the 4K disc.

EXTRAS

The enclosed Blu-ray and digital provide half-dozen carryover featurettes on the production. During the “Storming the Beach” featurette, it’s revealed that from the get-go, the script started with a massive battle on a beach, similar to Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan.” “I have a really deep love for war movies, in particular World War II films,” the director says.

The storyline was inspired by the Allied Invasion of Normandy in 1944. The producers and Liman used “Private Ryan” as a blueprint, but instead of filming on a real beach, as Spielberg did in Ireland, they built a beach the size of three football fields on a studio backlot in England in 2012. It gave Liman and second unit director Simon Crane a “massive playground” for their explosive stunts and crane work. The beach was filled with sand, mud and water, which made it difficult to maneuver equipment, while the exterior was surrounded by a 1,000-foot-long wall of green screens to provide a blank slate for the nine different visual effects shops handling the VFX.



(1) Cage wakes up again and finds himself back at Heathrow the previous morning. (2&3) Cage continues to loop over and over and Sergeant Rita Vrataski tells Cage to come to see her when he “wakes up.” (4-6) He finds Sgt. Vrataski training for the invasion and she takes Cage to see Dr. Carter (Noah Taylor) a Mimic biologist. (7) Vrataski and Carter show Cage a 3D model of the Mimics hive queen the "Omega," which can turn the day back - giving the aliens an unbeatable advantage.





“The beach got the nickname ‘The Bitch,’” Blunt says. Filming lasted seven weeks in the mud and sand, while Blunt wore an 85-pound metal suit. Nearly every single shot on the beach was a marriage of real characters, CG characters, and CG backgrounds, visual effects supervisor Nick Davis says.

Based on the 2004 Japanese novel “All You Need is Kill” by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, “Edge of Tomorrow” takes place in 2020 after Earth is invaded five years earlier by Mimics, an alien race that arrived via meteorite.

“It’s inspired by WWII, even from the design, the wardrobe, and the structure of it being on the beaches of Normandy, to being a nightmare for this person [Major Cage],” says Cruise. He’s a U.S. military public relations officer with no combat experience, ordered by Gen. Brigham to document the first wave of soldiers during the operation to retake Europe from the aliens. We quickly find out Major Cage is a coward and he’s demoted to private, labeled a deserter, and assigned to J Squad under the command of Master Sergeant Farell (Bill Paxton).




“The good news is there’s hope for you, Private. Hope in the form of glorious combat. Battle is the great redeemer, the fiery crucible in which the only true heroes are forged. The one place where all men truly share the same rank, regardless of what kind of parasitic scum they were going in.” — Master Sergeant Farell



Eighty additional minutes of extras are included, showcasing the weaponry and the exo-suit armament, “a human bulldozer with rocket launchers and machine guns and everything,” Paxton says. Another section explores the alien creatures, for which they used the book as a foundation. The creatures had been sent as microbes on comets and landed and spread. “We tried to treat them like a virus,” Davis says. They settled on three different aliens: The grunt-soldier, the generals (Alpha Alien) with a clear head, face and eyes, and the Omega the power source (The Brain). Over 4,700 concept illustrations, 276 sketches, 600 issued drafts, and 36 models were created for the alien race.

Plus, a 42-minute director’s video log, “On the Edge: Doug Liman,” pinpoints the intense production – which was filmed during many weeks for seven straight days – because Tom Cruise was up for the challenge. Lastly, eight minutes of deleted scenes are included.

“Edge of Tomorrow” is a nice find for your 4K collection – especially with Cruise and Blunt providing the fighting punch. We only wish it had been available years earlier.

Bill Kelley III, High-Def Watch producer







 


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