Movie review: Edge of Tomorrow

TL;DR: Fun, fun! Go see it!

edge-of-tomorrow-international-poster-600x888Now for my more complete thoughts 🙂 This is spoiler free as long as you’ve seen the trailers.

I’ve said before a movie can pretty much win me over with good CG, high action, multi-stage explosions with lens flares, and some decent one-liners from watchable leads. I read books for character and story. Yes, I’ll whine about plot holes, but for the most part, a movie can satisfy me with popcorn spectacle and the entertaining illusion that I can deliver a round-house kick when I walk out of the theater.

But when I get character and story AND spectacle… well, how happy am I?

EDGE OF TOMORROW was all that. Maybe it’s because I’m writing a science fiction romance novella right now, but I really appreciated how this movie’s creators seemed to understand and honor both its inherent limitations (really, there’s only so much storytelling you can do in less than two hours) and its potential scope (visually and viscerally).


There really wasn’t a good time for a potty break in this movie. The action was continuous and the exposition was quick and tight. This movie wasn’t a reboot of an older storyline, so we didn’t get a lot of origin backstory. And it wasn’t a setup for a franchise, so we didn’t get a lot of foreshadowing. Our heroes focused on what they needed to do without a lot of unnecessary mooning about their bigger world. The movie told THIS story.

For my fellow writers out there, I was particularly impressed with how the script handled the repeating timeline aspect, giving us just enough repeat to establish the flow and change of the story and characters without getting boring. Really nicely done.


My fellow writers know all about the “rule” to Show Don’t Tell, and EDGE OF TOMORROW did a wonderful job with showing. The character growth and emotional arcs were beautifully presented in snippets of action and quick glances. Movies have an advantage over books in the SDT realm, and these movie makers made the absolute most of their medium.

Admittedly, sometimes I almost wanted more. But I wanted more because I enjoyed it so much, not because I was unsatisfied. Like a rich dark chocolate flourless cake — you can ALWAYS eat more, even when you don’t really NEED more 🙂


When a movie starts with the premise that the main character dies repeatedly, you’d think it’d be easy to stop caring cuz you know he’ll come back. But between the hero’s difficult arc and the established stakes for the storyworld, I totally cared. I was invested in his journey and wanted to see him win. And the movie delivered. Plus, explosions!


Aside from some minor quibbles with time travel conundrums (which are as pointless as complaining about FTL drives) my biggest peeve — as with almost all monster movies — was that the aliens were essentially unbeatable… until they were chasing our heroes, and then suddenly the monsters are running at half speed and bumbling over obstacles. I realize this is so common in monster movies it’s practically a trope, but they could’ve worked around it with better staging. But whatever.

I’m almost always going to support SF movies on principle alone (yes, I will see the PROMETHEUS sequel and whatever they give me for STAR WARS no matter how many times they burn me) but when a movie really comes through for me, I am so, so happy.

Go see it!

(Last thoughts. I saw EDGE OF TOMORROW in 3D and thought it was worth the extra expense because I am easily amused by ducking explosions and monsters coming at me.  YMMV and if you can’t/don’t see it in 3D, you will still enjoy the story. Also, I just found out my preferred theater — a Century 16 — is discounted on Tuesdays, by $4/ticket, and I had NO idea, so check and see is your fave theater is doing anything to lure people into seats. Also also, I said science fiction romance earlier, but I don’t want to imply this was a SFR movie. So if you are a guy somehow reading this, don’t get scared away.)


Speaking of gifts… My year of steampunk inspiration

As I’ve mentioned here before, I like to bead. I adore a creative project I can get done in one night! This past year, I’ve made several steampunk-inspired jewelry sets. I finally got all the photos uploaded to Flickr. I thought if anyone out there is doing steampunk novels, you might be able to use the images of gears and whatnot for your cover art textures or just for your own inspiration.

The full-size images are here.

The pix are uploaded under a creative commons license which means (as I understand it) you can use it for anything you want. Although if you DO use it, I’d love to hear about it. I’ll try to keep a running list of links here if anybody does want to run amok with the pix.

Here’s a small sampling of the images. Some are better than others, obviously. No editing was done here, unlike my writing 🙂

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Happy creating in 2013!

Wherein I am a pig

You should see how much candied yams I can eat!

But actually, today I am a guinea pig over at Author Marketing 101. The brilliant marketing minds of C. Morgan Kennedy and Therese Patrick are offering a virtual workshop reviewing “the online experience Jessa Slade provides through her website.” Well, that sounds as menacing as one piece of pie and two forks.

(I suspect they could start their critical evaluation with my penchant for unnecessarily dense similes, metaphors and analogies.)

So as you bake and roast and whatnot, stop by Author Marketing 101 and we’ll learn together what it takes to create a satisfying experience. (Just add marshmallow fluff.)

Never stop learning

Crossposted from Silk & Shadows

Currently working on: Retyping notes from Larry Brooks workshop
Mood: Studious

Way back in college, I learned that if I read the course materials before the lectures, listened to the lectures and took notes, transcribed the notes from my notebook into my computer, and then re-read the notes, I was usually good for the test. This is why I like to attend workshops in person; even if I’ve read the speaker’s book, it forces me to take notes and then I remember more.

Larry-Brooks-workshopSo when I found out Larry Brooks ( was coming to speak to my local Romance Writers of America chapter, I was psyched. I’d read his STORY ENGINEERING writing book and loved it. It is my kind of writing book; very analytical and no-nonsense, but fun too. (Nonsense and fun being not the same thing, necessarily.) But as much as I love reading craft books, I also like to hear the information presented.

Sometimes speakers have found new ways to present their information and it’s always interesting to hear what they emphasize. Writer friendTerri Reed says hearing previously learned information again is like looking at a diamond from another angle: from the top you see mostly the flat surface, while from the sides you see the angles, and from the bottom you see the point.

choco-teaI highly recommend the STORY ENGINEERING book to fellow writers, because there is a lot of content best absorbed from the original source, but I thought I’d share some nuggets of thought from the weekend too:

  • To stand out from the slush pile, a story has to be better than good. It has to be better than what is out there already. What makes your story stand out, not from the slush pile, but from thesecond cut?
  • What is your central dramatic question? Can you make the question more provocative, more emotionally engaging? The more compelling the “what if” question, the more compelling the answer. And the answer is why the reader keeps reading.
  • What is the burning ember of your story? Pass that burning ember to the editor and to the reader.
  • Don’t settle; make it bigger.

Having spent a couple weekends ago in New York on the business side of writing, it was a joy to spending a weekend on the art and craft of writing. Next weekend, I go to Chicago for the RT Book Reviews Reader Convention. That will be the party side of writing!