Edge of Tomorrow, book vs. movie

Posted on June 15, 2014 with tags .

Warning: some spoilers ahead.

A few months ago I saw the trailer for Edge of Tomorrow (film). Normally I don’t look for trailers, probably this was shared on G+ by someone; but the basic idea behind the trailer was interesting enough I tried to look for more information about the (then upcoming) movie.

To my surprise, I learned that this Hollywood movie is based on a Japanese novel - All You Need Is Kill. Since (broadly speaking) Japanese style is quite different from Hollywood style, I became even more interested.

So I bought the book, and went through it quite quickly - I liked it a lot, and for the most part is has kept me reading and reading. I would say the book is quite straightforward, with a bitter-sweet ending that is what I (dreaded and) expected from it.

Fast forward a few months, and yesterday I saw the movie. I had somewhat lower expectations for it compared to the book, but I was surprised at how they managed to morph the Japanese setting in the book into an European one and give a good introduction into the plot. The downside is that they had to make it somewhat melodramatic here and there, and that they added quite a bit of extra plot to fill in the time; on the other hand, it skipped a lot of background detail that the book brought and which explains the setting of the war. The biggest change however was to the overall plot line: the book is only about a single battle, and makes it clear at the end that the war is far from over. The movie, in grand Hollywood style, solves the entire war in one neat swipe, and has a quite happy ending. Which is not bad per se, but doesn’t have the same emotional impact as the book.

Oh, and they made the aliens scarier but in a strange way prettier (or better said less alien). Interesting that they felt the need to do it: the aliens in the book were (definitely) scary by their behaviour/abilities, yet they had to make them “look scary” in a way that connects to our visceral feelings, rather to the logical fear that a non-earth-like life form would bring.

Speaking about the cast: I would still have preferred the Japanese setting of the book compared to the more western one in the movie, but at least one of the two main characters in the movie had a well-chosen person playing it.

Overall, I’d give the book a 4/5 rating, and the movie (still) a 3/5. I enjoyed both, and the main plot idea is, if not new in SF, still appealing.