It's a pure contemporary science-fiction universe :
One of the main criticism made to the movie concerns its generic aspect. Indeed, Edge of tomorrow visually doesn't show any difference with the products Hollywood, television or video games have released for the past fifteen years. The movie plot would even be only rip-offs of other sci-fi features. Indeed, the movie alludes to a lot of science fiction movies as Starship Troopers (the fights against an army of arachnid aliens); The Matrix or Avatar (the exoskeleton), Groundhog Day (the time loop)…We could even go back to the fifties: the exoskeletons are directly derived from Heinlein's literature (the author of the book which inspired Starship Troopers) and the main story with its soldiers fighting alien armies reminds us just as much of the literature from this time as The Outer Limits tv-show. By the way, when Groundhog Day was released, the first reference evoked by critics was The Twilight Zone. However, it is undeniable this universe, among its grayish photography and its D-day battlefields filmed camera-handled look like a lot of actual Hollywood products. On the other hand, this common aspect allows the connection with the video game universe which mainly leads the movie: those battlefields, those exoskeletons, those generic aliens today remind us of it more than any other fiction. The two domains have been nourishing each other for years, including video games that inspired movies, movies that inspired video games, or even visual methods that both mediums share. Somehow, you don't know for sure from where the main elements come, but everything seems conventional and recycled. Everything is quite off-wall way but, it's a kind of premonitory sign : we will be "forced" to see this universe over and over, to deconstruct it through a time loop in which the hero and us will be stuck. He will wake up after each of his deaths at the same starting point, condemned to live the same events eternally. We find back the lives and reloads of videos games used as a storytelling process.The movie will keep switching between those three postures: the viewer living the story; the one who plays with the movie; and the audience who has enough distance about the references to take a step back.
This balance between abstract and figurative is a classic perspective of contemporary science fiction: it's this very one that made the genre a perfect setting in the fifties and sixties for the political illustration of the fears, with its invasion movies underpinned by the Cold War and its multiple giant animals “irradiated” by nuclear power. Fifty years later, The Matrix or Avatar offer us new versions of those ersatz universes, obsessed by the issues of the era. The earth is darkened by the ecological disaster and image is all ; man's individualism is at stake and it's time for a new deal, like an agreement signed with the audience. Since the late nineties the American action/science fiction movie industry produced a lot of referential universes, in which everything refers to music videos/video games/movies/contemporary art…and nothing has any true consequence. Those worlds would be nothing but “playgrounds”, inhabited by amnesiac or rebooted characters having a program to fulfill. Edge of tomorrow is more an upload of things we already have seen than anything else.
The collision between different kinds of images starts right at the beginning of the movie: everything starts with the logo of the production company, interfered with the sound of a television/screen. The tv-images consequently take over the screen. A series of official nowadays "real-life" images including personalities (Obama, Hollande) mix with fictional pictures, letting us discovering through a media statement the war led against the aliens. But as it carries on, the sham of news flash becomes gradually more and more fanciful and unclear, and the fictional universe becomes less and less tangible.For instance, the mention of a military assault in Normandy against the Aliens, or the last triumphant battle in Verdun are nothing but explicit references: it creates a feeling of déjà-vu, as if the movie took place in the audience collective unconscious. The introduction of Tom Cruise, “disguised” as an officer directly addressing to the camera, increases even more this feeling of realities combination. However, none of the images seems to be really inappropriate, and everything here could probably be seen on television, whether its propaganda or the montage of soldiers looking like iconic video games characters. It feels like the intros of one of Paul Verhoeven satires (Robocop or Starship Troopers) in which you 're introduced into the fictional universe through news flash.
The viewer is required to leave the reality and to transpose it as much as he can into the fiction. Some of the main figures that make the movie science fictional will be just mentioned in this introduction, as promises or suggestive leads : we will know nothing about the extra-terrestrials, and following the hero, we'll have to be right on the battlefield to face the animal. And, having the time to catch a glimpse of it. We wont see any spectacular or astonishing pictures of the invasion, only a melting pot of generic images, mass destruction, maps and diagrams, and the historic references we've already been referred to. This world isn't really concrete and we have to accept its credibility or its artificial aspect.
We are in a streaming world which always must be in motion and repeat itself.