By Mark Saldana
Rating: 2.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
As I watched this screener at home, I couldn’t help, but think that the visuals in this, originally intended for theatrical release, feature probably looks fantastic on a massive movie screen. Well, anyone who has been anticipating this science fiction action film is already feeling disappointment that the distribution ended up in the hands of Amazon Prime. However, as I watched this movie and began to recognize so many clichés and tropes very common to this type of film, I began to realize that perhaps Amazon Prime is doing Paramount and Skydance a favor. Now, while I am not saying that this movie is an absolute abomination, I simply feel that a lot of people who ultimately sit through this movie in the comfort of their homes will probably express a sigh of relief that they didn’t end up spending theatrical prices to get the movie that The Tomorrow War ends up being.
To be fair, I actually enjoyed some of what director Chris McKay, writer Zach Dean and the cast and crew serve up with this sci fi flick. It has solid action, decent performances by the cast, and a great creature design for the aliens with which humanity is battling. So yes, this is another alien invasion war movie. And yes, the story involves time travel. The premise of the movie is that a massive global war takes place thirty years in the future, with humanity being outnumbered, outgunned and headed for extinction. Scientists in that era develop a way to time travel to the past when they can seek help. What ultimately happens is that the world’s governments of the present time agree to comply by instituting a world-wide military draft.
Former military family man Dan Forester (Chris Pratt) happens to become one of the unlucky ones drafted for instant military service. Forester and a group of mostly undertrained soldiers get sent into the future where they must join the war effort. On one particular mission, Forester uses his military know-how and proves himself worthy of more responsible leadership duties. He ends up working with a brilliant scientist (Yvonne Strahovski) who has been working intensely to find the solution to win a war that seems utterly hopeless.
As usual, I wil give credit where credit is due. Writer Zach Dean definitely puts a slightly different spin on the time travel story. I found this premise interesting enough and Dean’s development of the Dan Forester character and his journey somewhat engaging. This is what kept me interested and a little bit involved while watching this movie. Other than that, the battles, action sequences, and story comes across as copied and pasted from other similar movies from the genre. The overall look of the film works well enough, but this is because I watched this movie on a regular-sized screen at home. Had I watched this movie on a massive cinema screen, I believe that the effects would not have held up as well. In fact, during the film’s climax, the CGI looks rather cheap and rushed and would have looked horrendous on a large movie screen.
The movie does benefit from the cast who help keep things more watchable and enjoyable. It’s probably a no-brainer that Chris Pratt is great as Dan Forester. His amiable accessibility also adds to the audience’s investment in his character. Yvonne Stahovski benefits from some solid development of her character through the writing, but doesn’t completely pull off the proper level of emotional drama that the character demands. The film also features performances by J.K. Simmons, Edwin Hodge, and Betty Gilpin who perform well enough, but don’t get to do very much in this movie. For some mildly amusing comic relief, the likable and funny Sam Richardson helps lighten things up a bit and does it very well.
In a way I am grateful that I didn’t watch this movie on the big screen and a glad that it is not getting a theatrical release, because at this point in my review, I would probably say do not bother spending ticket prices to watch it. The Tomorrow War will be available for streaming via Amazon Prime on July 2, 2021 and I can honestly say that if it still sounds interesting and fun, it will only cost you about two and a half hours of time to watch if you are a Prime member. Otherwise, there are other way better similar movies anyone can visit or revisit instead.