Edge of Tomorrow (4K UHD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Stephen Bjork
  • Review Date: Feb 01, 2023
  • Format: 4K Ultra HD
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Edge of Tomorrow (4K UHD Review)


Doug Liman

Release Date(s)

2014 (July 5, 2022)


Village Roadshow/Warner Bros (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
  • Film/Program Grade: A-
  • Video Grade: A-
  • Audio Grade: A-
  • Extras Grade: B

Edge of Tomorrow (4K Ultra HD)

Buy it Here!


Spoiler alert: despite the fact that Tom Cruise is the star of Edge of Tomorrow, his character suffers a horribly violent death mere minutes after the opening credits roll. Well, that might have been a spoiler for most films, but in the case of Edge of Tomorrow, it’s actually a selling point, with the hook being that Cruise gets to relive the same day over and over again, Groundhog Day style. At least, it should have been a selling point, but despite the high-concept nature of the story, Warner Bros. struggled to find a way to market Edge of Tomorrow, starting right with the awkward title that was a drastic change from the film’s source material. (They weren’t done messing with the title, either, but more on that later.)

Edge of Tomorrow is based on the illustrated novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. While his story does bear a passing similarity to Groundhog Day, Sakurazaka was actually inspired by the trial-and-error structure of video games, where the player gets to “die” repeatedly, but then can keep trying over and over again to figure out the optimal path to survive. All You Need Is Kill had already been adapted into a manga by Ryōsuke Takeuchi, and later into an English-language graphic novel by Nick Mamatas, so it shouldn’t be surprising that the cinematic adaptation had an equally convoluted path to reach the theatres. The final screenplay is credited to Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth, though many other writers had a hand in it along the way. Still, the reality is that the film went into production without a finished script, just a set of storyboards to serve as a guide, and no clear ending at all. That could have proved disastrous on a big-budget production like this, but director Doug Liman has always thrived on that kind of chaos, and he was only too happy to develop significant parts of the film on the fly.

Cruise plays William Cage, an army major who finds himself seconded to the United Defense force in London. The UDF was created to stop the global threat of alien invaders called Mimics, but Cage is little more than a paper tiger, a weak-kneed coward whose real job is nothing more than public relations, selling an unpopular war to the public at large. After pissing off the wrong people, Cage finds himself busted back to private and serving as an unprepared soldier in a massive Normandy-style landing designed to pin back the alien forces. Except that the aliens seem to already know what’s coming, and Cage quickly becomes a casualty in the resulting slaughter. Yet the moment that he dies in gruesome fashion, he wakes up at the beginning of the day, forced to live through it over again. No matter how many times he dies, the day keeps resetting, and he keeps dying. To change the outcome of the day, Cage will have to figure out how to change himself first. Edge of Tomorrow also stars Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson, and Noah Taylor.

While it’s certainly true that Tom Cruise’s ego is as large as the whole of the known universe, and he could easily survive being plugged into the Total Perspective Vortex, it’s important to remember that egotism manifests itself in different ways. Cruise has always been willing to play against type, albeit in a carefully calculated way, because he’s confident that his image will survive the process—and he’s been right. He’s effortlessly followed up playing scummier roles like T.J. Mackey in Magnolia by returning to the comfort of Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible II, and he also followed up playing contract killers and bad fathers in Collateral and War of the Worlds by... returning to the comfort of Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible III. (If you sense a pattern there, you’re probably right.) He essentially got the best of both worlds with Cage in Edge of Tomorrow, since he’s able to play against type as the smarmy, cowardly version of Cage at the beginning of the film, and gradually grow in the heroic Cage that Cruise fans will recognize and appreciate. He does a credible job of playing both ends of the spectrum, too, and he really does seem scared out of his mind during the earliest iterations of his fatefully repeated day. (And yes, he did follow up Edge of Tomorrow by returning to the comfort of Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. Cruise has long been caught in a temporal loop of his own making.)

As for Emily Blunt, well, let’s just acknowledge that she simply can do no wrong, and leave it at that. If anyone can out-badass Tom Cruise, it’s Emily Blunt, and she’s in full Emily Blunt mode here. It’s a good way of throwing the craven version of Cage into sharp relief, and she provides a plausible path for him to be all that he can be—eventually, anyway. The late, great Bill Paxton, who we lost just three short years after Edge of Tomorrow was released in 2014, serves as a constant reminder of just how much of a national treasure that he really was. Given the tumultuous nature of the production, much of his dialogue was improvised, and he clearly relished the process. Action/adventures like Edge of Tomorrow don’t necessarily provide much opportunity for actors to stretch their wings, but the entire cast does fine work here to distinguish themselves amid the chaos.

Still, Edge of Tomorrow’s greatest strength is the clever way that it overcomes its own premise. There were two potential drawbacks to the Groundhog Day story structure: the first is the lack of stakes due to the fact that death is only temporary, and the second is the danger that the repetition would quickly become monotonous. It’s a testament to Liman and editors James Herbert and Laura Jennings that the latter pitfall is never an issue in Edge of Tomorrow. While the day itself may be repeated, they focus on showing the differences each time, rather than the similarities. As the film progresses, they even use editorial shorthand to dismiss some of the iterations abruptly, and often in amusing fashion. In regard to the potential lack of stakes since death seems meaningless, Edge of Tomorrow has an answer for that as well, but it’s one that’s best discovered during the course of watching the film.

That’s the paradox that the marketing department at Warner Bros. never managed to solve. Edge of Tomorrow is a high-concept film where the less that viewers know about the concept before watching it, the better. How do you promote this kind of story without either underselling or overselling it? They never figured out the answer to that question, and the trailers that they cut for the film were confusing at best. Edge of Tomorrow was a disappointment at the domestic box office, barely crossing the $100 million mark against a $178 million budget. The global returns were a bit better, but still not enough to reward the investment. It seems that someone decided that the title may have been at least partly to blame, because when Warner Bros. first released Edge of Tomorrow on home video, the film’s tagline “Live. Die. Repeat.” was featured prominently on the packaging, making it look like the title had been changed. It really hadn’t, but that was just another Hail Mary from the marketing department. Yet whether it’s called All You Need Is Kill, Edge of Tomorrow, or Live Die Repeat, it’s a film that by any other name will still smell as sweet. It’s certainly the sweet spot in Tom Cruise’s filmography between his safer roles and his more adventurous material. It’s also an example of how Doug Liman has successfully managed to bring the sensibilities from his roots in independent filmmaking into a commercial milieu. While it may not have been a big winner at the box office in 2014, its reputation has only grown in the years since then, and it will likely be remembered someday as the science fiction cult classic that it is.

Cinematographer Dion Beebe shot Edge of Tomorrow on 35 mm film, in both anamorphic Panavision and spherical Super-35 formats, using a variety of different cameras and lenses: Arriflex 235 and 435 cameras with Panavision Primo, C-, E- as G-Series lenses; as well as Panavision Millennium XL2 and Platinum cameras with Panavision Primo, C-, E-, G-Series, ATZ and AWZ2 lenses. Post-production work was finished as a 2K Digital Intermediate, framed at 2.39:1 for the theatrical release. While it’s certainly possible that Warner Bros. returned to the original camera negative to re-scan some of the non-effects shots at 4K, this does look like it’s a full upscale from the 2K DI. Of course, that doesn’t mean that there are no improvements here compared to the Blu-ray version. There’s always an advantage in upscaling to 4K at the uncompressed 2K source, rather than at compressed 1080p on the user’s end. The fact that Edge of Tomorrow was shot on film also means that it was effectively captured at resolutions higher than 2K, and that has advantages of its own. The greater bandwidth of the Ultra HD format also helps. Thanks to those factors, the textures are slightly more refined in this 4K presentation, and the original film grain is better resolved. The differences aren’t necessarily drastic, but they’re still noticeable.

Of course, it’s the new High Dynamic Range grade that offers the most noticeable improvements over the Blu-ray. (Only HDR10 is offered on the disc.) The overall picture level is a shade darker, but that gives more space for the highlights to stand out. It’s still a relatively restrained grade, however, and even those highlights aren’t too exaggerated compared to Blu-ray. The real advantage is in the subtle shadings in the contrast range—the black levels are deep, but they don’t crush the detail. The finale of the film takes place in a nighttime environment, and while it’s still a little murky here, there’s still more detail visible in the darkness. It’s an evolution, not a revolution.

Primary audio is offered in English Dolby Atmos. Edge of Tomorrow has always had a hyperactive surround mix, even in 7.1 or 5.1, but the addition of the height channels adds another dimension to what was already a spatially dynamic soundstage. During the action scenes, there’s constant surround engagement with bullets, explosions, and slithering aliens flying through all of the channels, overheads included. There’s plenty of impact from the bass on hand, but unfortunately, there’s a bit of a caveat there. The old 7.1 mix for Edge of Tomorrow was a notorious system wrecker, especially during the film’s opening, where some deep tones that dipped into subsonic frequencies could potentially overload subwoofers with inadequate protection circuits. That’s not an issue here, because this Atmos mix rolls off the bottom end of the frequency range. Regardless of whether or not that’s because the audio engineers got timid, or else if it was a concession for streaming applications, the rock-bottom bass is gone. That’s disappointing, but the good news is that only the lowest frequencies have been attenuated. It’s not a situation like Paramount’s War of the Worlds Atmos mix, where all of the bass seems to have disappeared. If your subwoofer isn’t capable of maintaining reference levels below 30hz, you might not even notice much of a difference, but the alteration still needs to be pointed out. It’s nevertheless a spectacular Atmos mix, but that caveat keeps it from being of reference quality.

Additional audio options include (hold on to your hat) English Descriptive Video Service; French (France) and German 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; and French (Canada), Italian, Spanish (Spain), Spanish (Latin America), Chinese, Czech, Hindi, Hungarian, Polish, and Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital. Subtitle options include English SDH, French (France), French (Canada), German SDH, Italian SDH, Spanish (Spain), Spanish (Latin America), Mandarin (simplified), Mandarin (traditional), Japanese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hindi, Hungarian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Swedish, and Romanian.

The Warner Bros. 4K Ultra HD release of Edge of Tomorrow is a two-disc set that includes a Blu-ray with a 1080p copy of the film, a slipcover, and a Digital Code on a paper insert tucked inside. Note that the Blu-ray is the same disc as previous releases, not a remastered one. All of the extras are confined to the Blu-ray only, and all are in HD:

  • Operation Downfall – Adrenaline Cut (2:24)
  • Storming the Beach (8:59)
  • Weapons of the Future (8:25)
  • Creatures Not of This World (5:38)
  • On the Edge with Doug Liman (42:37)
  • Deleted Scenes (7 in all – 7:38)

The first few extras are primarily brief EPK-style featurettes that include interviews with Liman, Cruise, Blunt, Paxton, and other members of the cast and crew. Storming the Beach covers the challenges of shooting the beach landing—Blunt says that the beach was quickly nicknamed “the bitch” by everyone who had to slog through it. Weapons of the Future is a look at the construction and filming of the practical exoskeleton suits in the film, as well as some of the other hardware. For all of the digital enhancements that were added during post-production, the suits were quite real, and extremely heavy. Creatures Not of This World examines the design of the alien mimics, and the way that the description of them in the book was translated into something that would work on film. The odd man out among these extras is Operation Downfall – Adrenaline Cut, which presents the “successful” parts of the beach landing in one continuous supercut. Considering that the landing is always broken up into segments on different days during the film, it’s an amusing way of seeing everything in context.

The meat and potatoes of the extras is On the Edge with Doug Liman, which is a real behind-the-scenes documentary that emphasizes the guiding hand that Liman had over the entire production. It features a ton of footage from the set, and it covers the entire production from the planning stages to shooting. Frankly, it would have been preferable if the material from the featurettes had been incorporated into this to create an even more comprehensive documentary, but it’s still a great look at the complex nature of the production, and Liman’s unusual seat-of-the-pants working methodology. All that, plus footage of him playing tennis. (Don’t ask.) Finally, the Deleted Scenes are mostly scene extensions that don’t add anything significant to the narrative, so it’s easy to see why they were cut. Many of them feature incomplete visual effects, so they were eliminated relatively early in the editorial process.

That’s all of the extras that were on the previous Blu-ray, which is hardly surprising, because it actually is the previous Blu-ray. While some new extras might have been nice, On the Edge with Doug Liman is still quite worthy, and of course it’s the new 4K presentation of Edge of Tomorrow that’s the real star of the show. Despite the disappointing decision to attenuate the deepest bass in the sound mix, this is still the definitive version of the film, at least for the time being.

- Stephen Bjork

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