Originally set for theatrical distribution by Paramount, big budget sci-fi action flick The Tomorrow War is now heading to streaming service Amazon Prime Video later this week. With MCU star Chris Pratt on leading man duties, (along with first time executive producing a movie) and an impressive lineup of supporting cast, could this be the next big Summer blockbuster?
Directed by Chris McKay (The Lego Movie & The Lego Batman Movie) The Tomorrow War centres on the unexpected arrival of a group of time travellers from the year 2051. Delivering the startling message that mankind is losing a global war with a deadly alien species, it’s clear to see they need all the help they can get to save the future, so a raft of soldiers and civilians alike are drafted into an army to fight. Amongst those sent to the future is high school teacher and ex-army researcher Dan Forester (Chris Pratt), who teams up with a fellow scientist in the future (Yvonne Strahovski) and his estranged father in the past (J.K. Simmons) a last ditch attempt to save the fate of the earth.
I’m a huge sucker for a good sci-fi/time travel action blockbuster, (particularly Terminator 2 and more recently The Edge of Tomorrow) so after watching the first few trailers, I thought this might be one for me. However, featuring time travel in the narrative can always pose a bit of a risk, (as documented in the fun time travel monologue in Avengers: Endgame) – at times becoming a ‘make it or break it’ factor in the believability of the plot. Nonetheless, writer Zach Dean tries something a bit different to the usual tropes, introducing the idea of a beacon type device which creates a wormhole in time, acting as a ‘moving raft’ between the past and future. Now yes, there’s probably potential for plot holes galore when you factor in quantum theory, but let’s just go with it for the time being! Certain story beats did also feel rather predictable, with parts of the plots hugely contrived, however despite the shortcomings – I actually had a really fun time with this film.
This was a very entertaining movie, thanks to a gripping plot which actually keeps you on the edge of your seat, due to the real considerable threat posed by these aliens. You also quickly root for the main band of characters, largely thanks to the some great comedic moments and a couple of surprisingly emotional family scenes, paired with the big-budget action sequences.There’s also a real rewatch-ability to the film which surprised me, particularly despite the overly long runtime of 2 hours and 20 minutes (I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a certain spinoff or sequel in the works though)
Following Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World, Chris Pratt cements his status as the main Hollywood action hero at the moment. He excels in the many action sequences and brings a real enthusiasm and added comedy to the role, feeling like a modern Harrison Ford type. Despite the obligatory Chris Pratt taking his top off moment (yawn!), it was fantastic to see Yvonne Strahovski getting almost equal action-status to Pratt, definitely harking back to her roots in spy TV series Chuck. Strahovski’s ‘Romeo Command’ was clearly in charge and leading the mission, with some real added smarts too. The Handmaid’s Tale star also brought a lot of added depth and emotion to the film, which balanced nicely with Pratt’s more comedic chops.
The supporting cast are equally as talented; particularly J.K Simmons as Pratt’s father James Forester, who plays the typical gruff father with a strained relationship with his son (with shocking biceps!) and the brilliantly hilarious Werewolves Within star, Sam Richardson, who brought the real laughs to the flick. However, GLOW‘s Betty Gilpin does feel somewhat underused throughout and I couldn’t escape the feeling that this is a largely white, middle-class group of Americans trying to save the world – which is a bit of a cliched action movie trope at this point.
It’s clear to see there was a significant budget for the production and action sequences, yet I was a little disappointed in how overly reliant on CGI a lot of the future scenes were. Cinematographer Larry Fong opts for a stark and ruinous apocalyptic future setting, with heavily muted colours. However, what really stands out is the impressive creature design from Ken Barthelmey and Ehsan Bigloo (art department for Love and Monster and Godzilla vs Kong) – the aliens really are quite terrifying, and yet rooted with a genuine believability. With teeth reminiscent of angler fish, the terrifying ability to glide through the air like sugar gliders and with limbs like arachnids – they genuinely felt like an animal which could have evolved on this planet.
Despite straying into predictable and contrived territory, The Tomorrow War is an engaging and entertaining sci-fi romp featuring a hugely talented cast. It’s just a shame this won’t be hitting the big screen anytime soon!