Chris Pratt stars in The Tomorrow War, a science fiction action movie directed by Chris McKay. This film follows a science teacher named Dan Forester (Pratt), who is recruited by time travelers to go to the future and help fight in a war against an alien species wiping out the human population.
I love sci-fi. I love action. You give me a good sci-fi action movie, and I will give you my undying love and respect. Fortunately, McKay has already proven himself to be a talented director with The LEGO Batman Movie, one of my favorite animated films. With a $200 million budget for a live-action sci-fi epic, he had even more to work with here.
McKay does an excellent job with this movie, and his direction elevates this movie to a whole new level. This is a sci-fi movie for the ages that may not reach the cult status it deserves due to its direct-to-streaming status, but it is one hell of a time.
What makes a good sci-fi movie? Hell, what makes a good movie in general? Some films get too caught up in flashy effects and style that they forget to offer the basic ingredients of a good movie: story and character. Luckily for us, this movie offers both.
This film spends a wonderful amount of time with its characters. The opening act does an excellent job setting up the character of Dan, an everyman husband and father who loses a job opportunity and wants to do something special with his life.
As they watch a soccer game, a giant portal opens, and our sci-fi story begins. Ideas from this film feel inspired by Aliens and Edge of Tomorrow, with the combination of human-munching creatures and giant battles filled with time travel and spectacle.
The Tomorrow War features some of the best ideas that sci-fi has to offer, and executes it in a way that isn’t too unique or special as far as the genre goes, but it remains a ton of fun. The creature design is fantastic and the visual effects look truly incredible.
Whenever the action starts, the film is a ton of fun. It works so well with Lorne Balfe’s original score, and they’re all incredibly exciting. But what makes the movie work is the way screenwriter Zach Dean uses time travel to tell something quite beautiful with Dan and his family.
Pratt does a wonderful job as this character. There are times where it feels like he’s playing the same wisecracking hero we’re used to seeing him play, but the scenes with him and his father, James (J.K. Simmons), are truly a testament to their skills as dramatic actors.
Another standout in the film is Yvonne Strahovski as Colonel Muri. She has a beautiful scene where we learn about her past through an incredibly emotional monologue, and the relationship between Dan and Muri amounts to something beautifully tragic.
While there is a lot to praise about this film, the movie may not fully resonate with some viewers. At 2 hours and 18 minutes, the film feels as if it doesn’t have to be that long, with the pace slowing down at the start of the third act, taking the story in a new direction that is fascinating, but long-winded.
It can also feel strange how characters disappear for long stretches of the film and reappear later. Also, Charlie (Sam Richardson) offers some comic relief that doesn’t always mesh with the film’s serious tone. Nevertheless, this movie is very enjoyable.
The film remembers that in order to get the audience to care about the story, they have to care about the characters first. This movie spends a lot of time with its characters, leading to a surprisingly heartfelt film while also offering delightful sci-fi action.
Grade: ★★★★☆ [8/10, B]
Jonathan’s Tips: Get some popcorn and have fun with this movie.
The Tomorrow War arrives on Amazon Prime Video on July 2, 2021.