Chris Pratt Fights Aliens with the Power of Mediocrity in ‘Tomorrow War’ – Spoiler Filled Review
The Tomorrow War is not a serious movie.
Travelers from the year 2051 drop into a modern-day World Cup game to deliver an urgent message: humanity is going to be wiped out by a deadly alien species if they don’t get help. The war needs more bodies to fight back, and they have traveled 30 years in the past to recruit fighters to be transported to the future. Yes, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds.
The Tomorrow War is director Chris McKay’s (The Lego Batman Movie) first live-action feature; it stars Chris Pratt as a high school science teacher turned future soldier and J.K. Simmons as a badass with a bushy Santa beard; plus Yvonne Strahovski, Betty Gilpin, Sam Richardson, Edwin Hodge, Jasmine Mathews, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, and Keith Powers.
This is not a good movie.
There are major spoilers for the movie below the trailer.
Time After Time
Stories that mess with time are a gamble, especially if it’s something you’re supposed to take seriously like you are here. Time travel in The Tomorrow War is based on a tech called Jump-Link and some internal rules, which works until the story writers break it in the first 10 minutes.
The tech can move large groups of people into the future for seven days and then automatically brings them back, so you can’t stay in the future. It can only take people between 2022 and 2051, so you can’t fast forward to just before the alien arrival and stop it. They avoid the duplicate paradox by only drafting people that died before the war started in 2051.
The initial arrival of soldiers from the future would likely cause a paradox. The fact that people go back and forth between timelines (sometimes multiple times) could cause a paradox. The main character being ordered to enter the future by his daughter who tells him about his future would likely cause a paradox. All would likely change the future enough that the whole mission would be entirely different or just not exist at all.
Again – very few films get time travel right (not everything can be Interstellar or Primer). This one is especially bad and it’s the central premise of the whole thing.
A List of Good Ideas From Smart People /s
– Show kids not caring about science education (or life in general) then rely on them to build a time machine in just thirty years.
– Throw random shmoes without training, equipment that fits, or fitness minimums into a war with a deadly alien force.
– Say things are science. We promise it’s really science.
– Bring the dangerous creature to the last safe place and where the Jump-Link control is.
– Pretend this script is good and not totally stilted.
– Have the whole alien invasion plot be preventable by science that pays attention to changes in the earth’s landscape due to climate change – and not need time travel or any of this silliness at all.
– Hire Chris Pratt to play yet another working-class every-guy that needs a purpose in his life and is placed in a position where he saves the world while telling dad jokes and squinting a lot.
– Let’s make a really dumb time travel movie but it has to take itself very seriously at all times.
The Not Totally Horrible Parts of The Tomorrow War
I will never say no to a JK Simmons’ grumpy old man performance and Sam Richardson is delightful.
I’ll give Tomorrow War some props for its creature design. It’s not exactly new, but the flea/gerbil/eel hybrid aliens are pretty snazzy and their mechanics are well done. The White Spikes were designed by veteran VFX supervisor James Price and creature designer Ken Barthelmey. They were aiming for something lethal and agile – they did a good job. The aliens look and behave like vicious predators that are a real challenge to defeat. They sound appropriately weird, too.
You can read more about the creation of the White Spikes here.
So, yeah. Good creatures, really bad everything else. Should you watch it? If you enjoy gathering some friends together and yelling at a television, this is a primo pick. If you’re looking for an actually good sci-fi action movie? Skip it.
Oh – and they’re making a sequel!