Edge of Tomorrow vs All You Need is Kill

edge-of-tomorrow-bluntI’m trying to make sure I go to the cinema more often, so last week I went to see Edge of Tomorrow, starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. It was either that or X-Men: Days of Future Past. There seemed to be a time travel element to both, but despite my reservations about Tom Cruise, I’ve pretty much hit superhero fatigue at this point. I’m still looking forward to the gloriously ridiculous Guardians of the Galaxy, but beyond that it’s getting harder and harder to get excited about the next Marvellous Men In Tights Movie.

I enjoyed the film, more than I thought I would. This was my initial micro-review:

It had its flaws, sure, the ending particularly felt tacked on, but it was enjoyable. But, I thought I’d check out the spec screenplay, to see how tacked on that ending really was.

Dante Harper’s adaptation of All You Need Is Kill, a Japanese novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka is already legendary in screenwriting circles. Written on spec, rather than at the behest of a studio, the material garnered a seven-figure studio deal. Suddenly there was hope for all us forlorn scribes that we might be able to pay bills, eat and write.

Read the All You Need Is Kill screenplay.

So, in this futuristic Groundhog Day set on D-Day (don’t think we didn’t notice what you did with the release date, Warner!), what are the main differences between script and screen? Well, other than the premise, the conceit, the setting and some of the characters – Pretty much everything. Some spoilers ahead.

To begin with, it’s a great script, a real page turner. This is what I want to see in an action film script, a rip-roaring read where you suddenly look up and an hour has passed and you’re 3/4 of the way through.

There’s perhaps too much emphasis on flashback, a bit heavy-handed when you’ve already got timeloops, but it’s a real barnstormer. One thing I liked in the script, a good use of semi-flashback exposition, was after 38 minutes of action, the protagonist goes and then find out/explains the history of the conflict. Nothing up front.
You’re just thrown in and picking up clues, which I like.
It lightens the burden of the eventual exposition. Unfortunately the flashback-as-exposition was repeated too often for my tastes.

But storywise, so much is different. Cruise’s character Cage is just a raw recruit in the script, instead of a disgraced officer and the reasoning behind the timeloops is totally different and even makes a little more sense. The conflict never goes further than the original beach, the only other setting being the base, to which the conflict eventually moves in the script as the Mimics learn where to focus their attacks.

But it’s the ending where the real difference hits, an ending foreshadowed by Sergeant Farell on page 46 of the script:

That's what it takes to be a great soldier. Realize your doom and get on with it. Inflict the greatest damage you can on your enemy. And die a hero.

It’s sacrifice that’s required to go from coward to hero. It’s the sacrifice that was blunted in the end of Edge of Tomorrow by allowing one more reset. But while Cage doesn’t die in the original script, it’s sacrifice that’s required of him, making it a more somber ending, which I much preferred.

So, Edge of Tomorrow was a good film, and I really enjoyed watching it. But it leaves some open questions, loose ends that were not left loose by the original script.

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