Mladen and Del review ‘The Tomorrow War’

Image courtesy of Amazon Studios.

“The Tomorrow War” Starring Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, Sam Richardson, Keith Powers, Betty Gilpin, J.K. Simmons and others. Directed by Chris McKay. Too long (2 hours, 20 minutes). Rated PG-13. Amazon Prime.

Mladen’s take

“The Tomorrow War” would be an A if I could look past its derivative plot, two smulchy scenes (one on a beach and the other amid a ferocious battle with an alien matriarch), it’s PG-13 rating and that it’s a product of juggernaut Amazon, which is more of a threat to Earth than the beasts portrayed in the movie would be.

But, I can’t, so this film gets a B-, though the acting is good and the movie’s pacing decent despite its 3,000-hour run time.

Here’s the plot summary, which Del will correct: An intergalactic pet transporter carrying really mean quadrupeds that remind me of the creature in “Cloverfield” crashes in the past on our planet near the North Pole. Global warming thaws the tentacled critters, which also remind me of the mimics in “The Edge of Tomorrow,” aboard the spacecraft in the future. They proceed to nearly take over the planet after eating all its meaty life, including people. Flash to the present and the future, “Tenet”-like, comes to us via a time travel device because Future Humanity needs Current Humanity to help our species survive. How? By Current Humanity conscripting its people as soldiers to fight with Future Humanity against the carnivorous alien invaders. The now‑soldiers are transported in waves to fight in the Tomorrow War by the time travel machine.   

The good thing about “The Tomorrow War” is that the time travel paradoxes created in the film are comprehensible.

The bad thing is that the director uses the time travel to insert a who-cares subplot about our protagonist, Dan Forester played by Chris Pratt, and his family. What’s hard about making a sci-fi action yarn without encumbering it with people relationships? I didn’t like Forester any better because he was frustrated with his life as I am with mine. I didn’t like him any better because he was a father as am I. Just give me a story that focuses on what would come naturally to most of us if animals tried to eat our children (and us). We’d fight until one or the other side wins.

If you like the other movies I mention above and masterpieces such as “Alien,” “Aliens,” and “The Thing,” you’ll enjoy “The Tomorrow War.” But, for a sci-fi guy like me, this movie is just one of many stopgap measures between the good stuff.

I also can’t shake the feeling that “The Tomorrow War” was put together somewhat hastily to make Bezos even more money. I don’t know, maybe he underestimated the cost of flying to the edge of space in his personal rocket and “The Tomorrow War” will help him pay the unexpected bills.

Del’s take

Mladen goes on about how he doesn’t care about people, but he really does. Beneath that so-called shriveled turnip of a heart lies the soul of a man who is not ashamed to messy-sob after hearing Netflix changed the ending of “The Notebook.” So I don’t take anything he says very seriously, especially when he fusses about relationships sullying “The Tomorrow War.”

If you removed the relationships from “The Tomorrow War” you’d be left with something like a documentary about ants in the Amazon. Not much fun there. I’d rather be blowing up spaceships and squabbling with my dad about shaving off that Unabomber beard.

“The Tomorrow War” is a perfectly adequate summer escapist movie, in the spirit of “Independence Day,” “Edge of Tomorrow” (a vastly underrated film) and “Battle: Los Angeles.” It is long on action, short on logic, and more entertaining than its length might suggest. In fact, I was shocked to learn it was 2 hours and 20 minutes. It didn’t feel like a two-hour movie.

Mladen summed the plot and you’ve likely seen much of the movie already through the ads. My advice is to turn off your brain and enjoy the cool special effects. The story offers nothing new, but then the drive-thru at McDonalds is always around the block so “new” is not high on the list of America’s entertainment palate. And Chris Pratt is, in my opinion, a huge miscast … but hey, there’s always another “Guardian of the Galaxy” or “Jurassic Park” to fall back on.

My gripe with Pratt is that he does not, in this time or any other, evoke the brawn and swagger of an action hero. He’s more teddy bear than Terminator, a plump Pillsbury Doughboy with a machine gun.

I’m a fan of J.K. Simmons but his role as Pratt’s father is reduced to an algorithmic cipher, just another piece in the blockbuster puzzle that appears to work but doesn’t. Simmons plays the role with a strange lack of emotion that made me wonder if he too wasn’t giggling about the absurdity of it all.

As the movie explodes and gore-sprays to its predictable conclusion you’re left wondering how much money this thing will put in Jeff Bezos’ pocket. From what I hear it was originally earmarked for theatrical release by Paramount until Uncle Covid and the Pandemics arrived in town, and somehow fell into Amazon’s pocket. At least they didn’t charge extra for Prime clients.

Hey look, the movie’s fine for what it is – two hours of mayhem and a chance for mankind to vent his violence on something other than the environment or himself. Don’t expect anything new or different; it’s as predictable as that glowing menu at the Mickey D’s drive-thru.

I agree with Mladen; the movie is a B-.

Mladen Rudman is a former journalist and technical writer. Del Stone Jr. is a former journalist and author.