‘The Tomorrow War’- Film Review: A Promising Sci-Fi Letdown

What’s the Story: The world is stunned when a group of time travelers arrive from the year 2051 to deliver an urgent message: Thirty years in the future mankind is losing a global war against a deadly alien species called White Spikes. The only hope for survival is for soldiers and civilians from the present to be transported to the future and join the fight. Among those recruited is high school science teacher and good-hearted family man Dan Forester (Chris Pratt), who is determined to save the world for his young daughter and everyone else.

While the trailers for The Tomorrow War leveled those expectations low for me, there was still a chance to find Chris McKay’s (The Lego Batman Movie) live-action debut a fun and exciting blockbuster that could make for a new classic for the genre. Think about it: Time travel, action, and one of Hollywood’s hottest “Chris” actors in the lead? That sounds right up my way, and I’m willing to give anything from the genre a chance when done right. In a world where this would’ve come out in theaters during the Fourth of July weekend instead of streaming for Amazon Prime Video from Paramount Pictures for $200 million and its original holiday season release date taken off from Paramount last year, this would be the type of movies worth seeing on my birthday. But alas, I didn’t think my overall thoughts about this were straight down the middle with this one.

I think there’s no denying one of the few things the movie has on its shoulders is an intriguing premise to hold everything together where there’s no way this kind of scenario will ever happen, and if it were to pinpoint to being a futuristic drafting, similar to what occurred during the Vietnam war and bring in unprofessional people in a field unfamiliar with. When I first heard of the movie and what it’ll be about, my brain thought it would be about scientists who gained the ability to resurrect different soldiers from past the war to put an end to an alien invasion. Does my idea sound better? Kind of. It doesn’t take time to take things slow to help how taking part to join in this act of duty is dangerous, and it goes along knowing the circumstances one must follow through, whether dead or alive. But as you think about the actual plot as the movie plays out, it’s fine, yet you can’t help to find it pretty similar to better movies in the same vein as Starship Troopers and Edge of Tomorrow, but not as memorable as you expected it to be. The thought I had when McKay and writer Zack Dean were pitching this is acting like it’s all part of a difficult video game with the ability to play somebody in need of a new challenge in life. From what I can remember, there’s little setup, leading to why the lack of development of the story will raise certain questions, which always happen when time-traveling is involved in movies nowadays. Maybe it’s me, but I would’ve loved some detailed explanation to sell into the concept more than just having these people travel to the future to fight aliens.

Another thing that counts as a high attribute is recognizing the action sequences had their fair share of being entertaining and loud when it calls for it, especially early on. Just in the opening minute before the title, it throws us right in with Dan’s jump into the future falling from the sky that made the suspense of that moment tensioned less, but what we got are still some impressive to take us on an idea of what dozen of soldiers from the past had to go up against. You never know if the people in this draft will be lucky enough to make it without getting killed. I even thought the visual effects design of the alien creatures actually works when there’s nothing more to think about them since there’s a lot of them, they’re fast, and just know how to kill you despite the bullets going through them. They do that thing of not showing them early and give off the authenticity of surprise when our team first encounters them; they made a point on if they prove any pictures to the public, that gives them a reason to be more scarred already. The general look of the “White Spikes” wasn’t totally original, they were not what I expected them to look like, so job well done in making them terrifying to face against in real life.

As for the characters we’re given here, some part of me didn’t care too much about any of them despite when getting to learn details are given to them, but they’ve gone for much of the movie, either killed off early or off somewhere else. The only character who has a lot of time on screen is Chris Pratt as former Special Ops turned teacher Dan, but as much as I love Pratt and still believes he’s good enough to be a movie star, regardless of some people, it’s what I normally expected from him; I just couldn’t help but to find his performance kind of bland. Yvonne Strahovski’s performance as the Colonel is almost too good for her, which is clear I’m more positive with what she brought here. Without spoiling, you get a lot of scenes between the two of them, though when it calls for the drama to kick in, it doesn’t work as high as you wanted to have an emotional weight feel earned. There’s also not much else to know if Sam Richardson, Edwin Hodge, Mary Lynn Rajskub, and Mike Mitchell. I also wished they gave J. K. Simmons and especially Betty Gilpin more to do as Pratt’s estranged father and wife, respectively.

The first half of the experience wasn’t the best since the build-up was off to a slow start, yet something was telling me there has to get something to make it worth recommending. But I hate being wrong when it’s a sci-fi movie with Pratt saving the world from hungry aliens that doesn’t offer much else after a while. How can you manage to make it simply average? After a while, this doesn’t try to do anything too new when take the time between the set pieces and poor use of humor. Honestly, I thought I was going to sit through a 106-minute movie and didn’t realize it’s two hours and eighteen minutes, which I think everyone will agree it shouldn’t have been that long since the last half wasn’t as interesting as before and that was around the time when I checked out.

While The Tomorrow War will get viewers to watch it on the biggest television screen available, this won’t be on the huge scale of the next alien invasion movie destined to become a classic anytime soon. Our 2020s answer to Independence Day it is not. This is one of those occasions where it has everything you could want in a science-fiction property. The results don’t make it feel impactful, making itself out to be an underwhelming blockbuster that’ll more than likely have its audience either liking or dismissing it. Not bad, just more or less a letdown that’s going to be remembered little by.

Final Thoughts: The Tomorrow War is a movie I tried so hard to enjoy, but as though it gets the job done in proving entertainment for some viewers, it’s an original sci-fi that’s potential was, unfortunately, wasted. The action wasn’t too bad and the creature design was cool, but it doesn’t do much in terms of a story lacking big stakes and good drama.

Grade: C+

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