Review: The Tomorrow War (2021)

Review: The Tomorrow War (2021)
06 Jul
2021
Not in Hall of Fame

Cast:

Chris Pratt                    Dan Forester

Yvonne Strahovski         Colonel Muri Forester

J.K. Simmons                 James Forester

Betty Gilpin                  Emmy Forester

Sam Richardson            Charlie

Mary Lynn Rajskub        Norah

Hello Again! It has been a few weeks since my last contribution, but as it is summer, the COVID lockdowns have started to ease, we have just been a little too busy lately to watch movies and write a review. However, last night we managed to find a good film to watch and I take pen in hand (ok keyboard) and attempt another review of a film or program. 

For the last several weeks I have been seeing an interesting trailer on Amazon Prime every time I turn on the fire-stick. This film is called “The Tomorrow War” starring Chris Pratt. The trailer’s seemed interesting, the concept, while not new, appealed to the sci-fi geek in me, and it starred Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic Park, Avengers etc),  Strahovksi (Chuck, Stateless, Dexter),  and Simmons (Spiderman, Justice League, The Accountant, etc), all actors that I really like. So what could be wrong with the selection? Actually, nothing. The film was an enjoyable escape that was decently written, filmed and executed. While not perfect by any means, it was entertaining enough to keep us watching and enjoying the ride. Sure, it had some technical and story line goofs, a little too many clichéd lines and some very predictable scenes, but it was fun, and in this day and age, fun is what we were looking for. 

So you ask what “The Tomorrow War” is all about? I am glad you asked, this film starts with Dan Forester (Pratt) coming home to what seems to be a party, I can’t quite figure out if it was his daughters birthday, a party for a football game, or some other unknown occasion. Busy on the phone while juggling the all important beer case and other necessary supplies, we discover that Forester (Pratt) lost out on a new position that would have set up his family. In this scene, we also see a shadow box filled with military memorabilia, (so at this point we know he is a vet, for almost every Vet I know (including myself) we all have a shadow box to highlight our career). We also find out that he has an estranged father who is trying to reach out to him and it is to no avail (J.K. Simmons). These points become important later on. So, back to the opening, his daughter is waiting for him to watch the game with her, they sit down, and lo and behold, a series of light and mist appears in the middle of the game and a platoon of heavily armed soldiers suddenly appear. 

Naturally the crowd goes batshit, everyone is tuned to them and the leader of the group of soldiers informs the players, audience and the world at that time that they are from the future and they need help. Earth has been invaded 30 years hence from a group of aliens that look like a cross between Predator, Alien, Tremors and the sandworm from Dune. These aliens are winning the battle for earth, and our future children need our help. They convince the world powers to provide military assistance, and after a short time a world wide draft is brought into place. Anyone can be drafted to serve a 1-week tour of duty in the future. However, they must have certain requirements (we will find out what later). After the tour of duty, only about 20 percent of the time soldiers dispatched return, and many of them are expressing PTSD symptoms, and lost limbs like no other war. So the war continues, we see clips from the news on how its going and Emmy Forester (Gilpin) just happens to be a psychiatrist who is treating these returning vets, so we get a little dramatic foreshadowing of what to expect.   

Well we see it coming a mile away, Dan (Pratt) gets drafted and meets up with a bunch of other civilians who have never seen the dangerous part of a rifle or have heard a gunshot. They get a crash-course on weaponry, and then do the time-shift to the future to begin their tour of duty. It is at this time that the rubber really hits the road and the film’s excitement begins. Humanity is on its last legs, battles are raging world wide and valiant heroes are fighting the aliens in Miami Beach. There are the requisite clichéd one liners, some pretty decent CGI, and great amounts of gore and violence during the battle. Yes, there is some predictability as well as some plot holes and technical goofs. But the story moves at a brisk pace so that you don’t really say WTF till later when you think about the films plotline in further detail. Overall, a pretty fast moving film that kept you watching.

What did we like about the film? As mentioned previously, the CGI was pretty decent, and the aliens were pretty cool. Sure, it was a melange of some of the other aliens in previous films, but it did have one added feature. These bad guys could throw spikes out of their tentacles like one of the characters in an X-Man movie (X-Men: The last stand to be specific). So that was pretty cool. The story line was a bit of a twist on some previous time-travel films, but it did have a glimpses of “Starship Troopers” and “Aliens” that were brought to mind during the film. Not that I minded it, just some scenes appeared very familiar to me. The chemistry between the main characters were pretty consistent and enjoyable. I especially liked the chemistry between Pratt and Strahowski, as well as Pratt and Simmons. Some of the supporting cast were mainly present for comic relief and in some cases to fill in missing plot holes. So that was not too bad. 

What didn’t I like? (Some spoilers will be given at this point) The fact that they would time-warp individuals who were young or old, fat or thin, with no military experience (for the most part) provided automatic weapons, grenades etc with minimal training to fight the war seemed a little out there. But I believe that the writer/director wanted to demonstrate urgency for it. But in reality, there would have been more friendly fire deaths than the Aliens just due to lack of experience. As with all war/space movies, the limitless magazines always annoy me. I know firing an assault rifle on full auto will empty the clip in about 3 seconds. Yet these guys can fire for an eternity before reloading. There were a few technical goofs. Like flying a C130 about 3 times the range of the aircraft, they would have to refuel at least once. Also, what was the point of landing the plane, yet then travel on snowmobiles for hours. Would it not have made more sense to fly closer? Also, how can an alien get at least 3 mags full of bullets into him, then when all else fails, a pistol shows up, and 2 rounds later it is killed. It did require some consistency, this became even more apparent when the F35’s were dropping ordinance to kill them and it did not seem a problem, aliens would get blown up. So, if they can be shot or blown up, why were we losing? If something can be killed, it can be defeated. One thing that really did annoy me was that there was no real explanation for the time travel. There was some banal explanation, but it could have been amped up more. (at least in my opinion). Additionally, there were several other inconsistencies, but oh well, overall, it was a pretty good film.

Now to the subject of the cast, I am only going to discuss some of the key characters and they are:

Chris Pratt as Dan Forester: Pratt is used to playing the hero lately and he does it well. He often comes across as the unwilling hero who rises to the situation. He easily plays the action star who is quick with a weapon, wise-crack or solution to the problem. Naturally, as the script provided the foreshadowing, we see he was a Special Ops guy in Iraq conflict, so that is why he has all the skills, and that he is a bit of a amateur scientist, he has the knowledge to defeat them. All very convenient, but hey this is an action movie time-waster, not a documentary! Additionally, Pratt demonstrates great chemistry with all his co-stars and supporting cast. This is what helps make him a very marketable actor. All in all, a pretty good performance from Pratt in a decent film.

Yvonne Strahovski as Colonel Muri Forester: As I have mentioned in previous reviews (i.e. Stateless) we have been fans of Strahovski since her appearance as Sarah in the tv series Chuck. Again, she has proven herself to be an entertaining actress in a halfway decent role. Her portrayal as the future Muri, a combination warrior/scientist was pretty good and her action sequences were well played. The chemistry that she had with Pratt was believable and helped to improve the film. Another good role for Strahovski that she can put in the resume with her other ones. 

J.K. Simmons as James Forester: J.K. Simmons has seemed to be around forever. His booming voice and over the top style has managed to make his characters endearing in many of his previous roles. As the estranged grandfather with some very unique skills, he again delivered. Sure, his history and backstory in the film is pretty anorexic, and hardly laid out, but what the hell, He is the curmudgeonly grandfather who can fly a plane, work with transmitters, handle explosives and weaponry. But, he is exactly the type of character you need in this film to help save the day. Even though his screen time was extremely limited, it was still vital to the stories conclusion. 

Betty Gilpin as Emmy Forester: Gilpin, another solid actress with actually minimum screen time in this film. Basically, just the start and finish with a few memory sequences. While not a major player in the film, her character as well as the young Muri Forester (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) provided the anchor and the reason to succeed for Pratt’s father character (Dan). Additionally, as her character was a doctor trying to rehabilitate the returning veterans it provided some dramatic insight on what he would experience when Dan got drafted (as we all knew he was going to) once it was mentioned in the film. Not a bad performance by Gilpin, nor a great one. But done well enough to help the film along.

Sam Richardson as Charlie: I am only adding Richardson in here as he was great for the comic relief in the film. As a nerdy guy who gets drafted along with Dan (Pratt), he is carried along for the ride and the one liners. I had to look to IMDB to see what I had seen him in and was surprised on all his character work and voicework that he had done over the years. He is one of these “minor co-star/extra” that you see all the time and can never figure out where he was before. Regardless, I found his contribution to the film enjoyable and as with all of the action films to-date, he provided the comic relief in the middle of the battle sequence. 

Mary Lynn Rajskub as Norah: Here is another character that I had to give an honourable mention. When she gets drafted along with Dan (Pratt) and Charlie (Richardson), I had to do a double take to figure out who she was. Then it dawned on me that she was one of the central characters from 24! In the heat of her fight sequences I was waiting for her to shout for Jack Bauer to come save her! Not a major role for her by any means, but it was nice to see her in an action role instead of playing the voice/brains behind a keyboard.

Now the big question, were we entertained? Yes we were! The Tomorrow War is a nice little Sci-Fi romp with lots of action, one-liners and CGI. Sure it has plot holes and inconsistencies…(really what movie doesn’t?) and there were a few times that I scratched my head after the film. But, it is not an Oscar contender but a nice little escape for a few hours. Amazon Prime did well in obtaining the rights for this production and if you have Prime, like the Sci-Fi genre, and are a fan of Strahovski and Pratt, then definitely give this one a go! I don’t think you will be disappointed. 

Our rate: 7/10

If you are interested in any other productions from the main cast, please consider the following recommendations!

Chris Pratt                    Guardians of the Galaxy (Franchise), Avengers: Endgame & Infinity War, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Passengers, The Magnificent Seven, Delivery Man, Zero Dark Thirty, Bride Wars

Yvonne Strahovski         Stateless (https://www.notinhalloffame.com/blogs/was-i-entertained/11655-review-stateless-2020 ) , Chuck, The Handmaids Tale, 24: Live Another Day, Dexter

J.K. Simmons                 The Stand (2020), Justice League, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Patriots Day, The Accountant, Spider-Man 3, Numbers, The Mexican, 

Betty Gilpin                  Nurse Jackie

Sam Richardson            VEEP, Mike and Dave need Wedding Dates, We’re the Millers, The Office

Mary Lynn Rajskub        24, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Sweet Home Alabama

Till Next time!

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