I really like Tom Cruise. There was once a time when this statement wasn't remotely out of the ordinary, as Cruise was one of the few movie stars of the 80's to actually gain popularity in the 90's as the modern ideal of the action hero morphed from beefy Olympian to more of an everyman, but the guy seems to have fallen out of public favor. The fact that, apart from Brad Bird's examplary live-action directing debut on Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol aside, his movies haven't been terribly great lately.
And while he made some bold choices when choosing roles a few times in the last couple decades, lately he seems to have been on - well, for lack of a better term, Cruise Control, choosing parts that ask little from him outside of the ability to smile, punch, and run.
Luckily, Edge of Tomorrow proves to be a major course correction.
Along with 1998's Blade, the original X-men helped to kick-start the modern superhero genre. While a few hallmarks of the original X-films (more serious focus, toning down of the colorful comic book elements) saw themselves reflected in movies like Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy, there was very little else to the early films of the franchise of note, other than giving screen appearances of varying quality to an increasing roster Marvel mutants. As the franchise hit choppy waters with X-men: The Last Stand and X-men Origins: Wolverine, Fox looked for ways to breathe new life in to the franchise.
This paid off with the pretty good The Wolverine from last year, and the very good X-men: First Class from 2011, but interestingly enough it's this year's Days of Future Past that not only restores the franchise's financial success and brings it to new critical heights, but finds a unique twist that both makes Days a compelling film, and also gives the franchise something to truly call its own in a continually crowded field.
In creating one of the most "comic book-like" films ever made, this franchise has actually retconned it's own history.
This is the second in a series of reflections of film trilogies that helped reshape the blockbuster landscape going into the 21st century, and gave rise to the Golden Age of Geek Cinema. Part 1, covering Sam Raimi's Spider-man Trilogy, ran already. And while those films cemented the superhero as the new heavy hitter at the box office, Marvel was counting on another property to jump-start Spider-man and several other franchises that they'd sold off to various studios.
We are in the middle of a Golden Age of "geek cinema" - a studio system that was once built upon seeking out the biggest stars to headline tentpoles has now almost completely inverted. Now big-name stars line-up for the sorts of roles that Alec Guinness regretted and resented being most well-known for, and fantastical genre projects that would never have seen the light of day are the bread and butter of an entire industry.
But that didn't happen over-night, or with a single film.
I seem to run with a lot of themed series on this blog - The Disney Renaissance and the Harry Potter Marathon were incredibly fun to write and even more sober reflections like the Tony Scott In Memorium series hew closely to my own fondness for movie production details and genre cinema. This year sees the release of a new Middle-earth film, a new Spider-man movie, a new X-men movie, and a new movie from the Wachowski siblings, so the coming summer months seem an appropriate time to revisit a lot of the trilogies that had a major hand in shaping the blockbuster landscape we now find ourselves in.
Some of these films I love, some of them I don't. Many are perennial favorites, others I haven't seen in years. But all of them, in their own small way, helped to change movies forever.
And I'll be starting with one of the most recognizable - and possibly controversial - entries of all. Sam Raimi's Spider-man Trilogy.