By: John M Jerva
THE REVIEW: Theaters are slowly opening up and some of the films that have been delayed like F9 are finally seeing the light of day but the pandemic’s effects are still in full effect as many titles have sought to go the streaming route instead of cinematic releases. It’s a gamble for studios but some feel this is the way to go in uncertain times.
One such film that has gone this route is Amazon Prime Studios The Tomorrow War which was originally supposed to receive a theatrical release last year but Paramount sold it to Amazon for a lofty 200 million. It’s a shame in a way because this is the type of bombastic, full on sci-fi action good time that large screens were made for. It is what it is and we finally got to see the film this weekend.
Chris Pratt leads the way once again and the actor is cementing himself as one of Hollywood’s elite leading man with films like this as well as Guardians of the Galaxy and the Jurassic World franchise. Pratt has that easy going, guy next door quality working for him and here he plays it to the hilt as Dan Forester who is an Iraqi vet turned family man and high school biology teacher. That’s not enough though as Dan is certain he’s destined for something greater and when a golden opportunity with a research company falls through, Dan is disappointed to say the least.
For Forester and everyone else, things are going to get a lot worse as during a World Cup soccer game he’s watching with his family and others turns into a nightmare as time traveling soldiers arrive from the future in all out Terminator blue electric light fashion and proceed to tell a stunned world that in 30 years time, mankind is on the brink of extinction as hostile aliens have descended upon us and are devouring everything in their path.
Unfortunately things aren’t going good and they need more bodies. So much that they’ve come to take the world’s armed forces to fight and as 12 months have passed, the casualty rate is so alarming that now they’re taking ordinary men and women to fight with only a few days of training. It’s essentially lambs to the slaughter.
Forester is one of them and with a group of humans, he is thrust into a nightmarish future that’ll see mankind extinct within days.
The Tomorrow War is nothing new in the genre and it borrows heavily from previous films like Independence Day and Aliens but even though it’s been done before, this new gimmick of fighting a war 30 years in the future works and it’s an exhilarating good time with sweat inducing action set pieces and special effects that immerse the audience into this hellish world.
Pratt is the key that holds it all together and here he is taking center stage like in Guardians of the Galaxy and with this film, he’s definitely cemented himself as an action film leading man who is anything but indestructible and his vulnerability is what makes it work. Yes, he’s an ex-special forces soldier but he’s still human and that part of his life was a long time ago. Pratt makes you care and with that, the movie is stronger in its plot and circumstances.
The rest of the cast all deliver especially the always dependable J.K. Simmons who elevates anything he’s in. He plays Pratt’s estranged father James who gets a second chance to make things right and save the world at the same time. Yvonne Strahavski brings a sense of fortitude to her role and it’s her character arc that serves up the movie’s emotional pulse. I won’t go into spoilers but her and Pratt’s Forester share a special connection and it’s one that brings emotion and sentiment to the proceedings that is otherwise filled with mayhem and carnage. They share the best moments of the movie together and it’s their chemistry that ties it all together.
Edwin Hodge shines as well as a no nonsense vet who keeps going back for more and when we learn of why he has a death wish, it makes his character that much more deeper in his evolution. Sam Richardson is spot on as a ordinary guy named Charlie in an extraordinary situation and he serves up the film’s comic relief and his timing is golden.
Now it’s the action that sets this one apart from recent additions in this type of genre and while the film takes a while to get going due to build up and plot devices, once it kicks in, it never lets up. The initial contact with the aliens when Forester and company arrive in the future is harrowing and pulse pounding to say the least and it is hyperkinetic at its most raw nature. These aliens are simply horrific and bad ass and they make Xenomorphs look like a group of baby Yodas. The design of their appearance is savage and they offer a very terrifying enemy that is hard to fight and worse yet, hard to stop. They’re just plain relentless to the core.
The movie is like two films in one as we have the section in the future where all is inevitably lost. Mankind is getting their collective asses handed to them and this part of the movie is bleak and foreboding. Then we have the last third of the film where a revelation is made and it gives our human heroes a chance to stop the invasion from even happening. While the initial middle of the movie is by far the best part, the climax still manages to gives us a plausible resolution sprinkled with ample amounts of bullet infused bravado.
The special effects are also their own character and while bad CGI can kill it for viewers and take them out of the game, well done CGI can immerse you into a world that isn’t real but for two hours plus that doesn’t matter. Thankfully it’s the latter as the graphics are first rate and don’t let anyone tell you any differently because it was money well spent with this one.
The musical score is also epic in its scope and it fits the thrilling moments to a tee and penetrates what you’re watching with the desired amplification. It certainly elevates the proceedings if anything else.
Overall, The Tomorrow War is as advertised. A summer blockbuster that hits all the right notes and while it’s gives us nothing in the surprise department, it still does what it’s supposed to do. The characters are fleshed out and the action is sweat inducing. There is also a wonderful amount of heart that is a welcome addition to the bombastic proceedings and I enjoyed every minute of it. Chris Pratt proves once again that he’s a mainstream leading man and he’s surrounded by a supporting cast that is all on their A game.
A lot of reviews have bashed this film and I can’t figure for the life of me why. This is definitely one of my favorite films of the year so far and it does that it’s supposed to. It’s a sci-fi action spectacle that gives the audience a much welcome diversion from real life and if you can look past it’s shortcomings then you’ll without a doubt enjoy the ride.