The Tomorrow War! I first heard about this movie through my movie script hook up, Terrance Malloy. He sent me an early draft of the script and I was less than impressed.
Fast forward to last weekend and I finally got to see the movie.
Let me be very clear: This is a dumb movie. There will be times where you the viewers will stop and think “Wait, why don’ they just—”
Yes! You are 100% correct and your thought was smarter than what the script writer came up with. Very little of this movie holds up to scrutiny.
Despite this…I rather enjoyed it. The mouth breather IQ-level of the story was somehow saved by the sum of its other parts.
The cast was really great. Chris Pratt is as charming and as likable as ever, and he really sold me on his character caring so much for his family that he’d go through hell and back to save them. No complaints from me there.
The character of Charlie (played by Sam Richardson) was a scene stealer. I want to see him in more movies playing Charlie! Very funny. Excellent delivery. And there was one scene towards the end where I was like:
Some of the set pieces were amazing. The deep water part a la Water World was awesome, and that last shot of Miami was haunting. Later in the movie there was a little detail to a shot that made it very clear to the audience that there’d been a crash. I don’t want to get into the details, but kudos to the director.
But what absolutely saved the movie for me were the aliens. The White Spikes were terrifying. You want Imperial Guard fighting Tyranids? Boom. The reveal for the aliens in that stair well was spot on. Lots of foreshadowing with glimpses of the bad guys, the spikes, how lethal they are…then boom! Chase down a stair well, Red Shirts getting eaten left right and sideways. I was hooked.
And the last fight at the very end? Where Star Lord and J Jonah Jamison go up against the Big Bad? Loved it. Did it pass the smell test? No. But watching the tables turn, hand to hand combat, the final satisfying moment…
There is a mountain of things to criticize with the movie, but I actually enjoyed it despite the flaws. Go check out the Pitch Meeting for it, Ryan over there does a great job of pointing out where things go wrong.
And I rather liked how the message of family and
God damn it, Dom! Get out of here. Where was I? Right, that Chris Pratt’s character was willing to save the world to save his fam—
Seriously! But let me pick this one nit about the story, specifically Chris Pratt’s character Arc. Or lack thereof.
Dan Forester starts the movie as a devoted family man stuck in the rut of teaching. He was an Army Special Forces First Sergeant (Ha ha! No. I’d buy he was a tanker that had to do dismount operations during a tour in Iraq and that’s it. A real 1SG would have gone on a rampage when the civilians tried to put on their uniforms.) and is trying to get a better job as a researcher.
Then he’s drafted and goes to war for the sake of his family, and **minor Spoiler** while in the future he meets his daughter and finds out he abandoned his wife and daughter at some point in the past and died. He comes back to the present and saves the world to save his family.
This isn’t a character arc. Dan Forester ends the movie right where he started: Devoted father and husband. We don’t ever get the inkling that Dan’s going to leave them. When his daughter in the future gives him hell for this, it doesn’t have an impact.
It’s like getting yelled at by your wife for something you did in her dream. What’s up with that?
This could’ve been done if we saw that Dan was tempted by his old military life, that there was a viable path for him away from his family. Change his father to an old war buddy who offers him big bucks to go work as a mercenary. Have that shady character offer to get his tracker off and then send him into hiding and then Dan seriously considers it. He can balk, but then we know that Dan’s capable of leaving his family for either greed or guilt or selfish reasons.
Then, when he’s confronted over abandoning his family, it actually has some gravitas. And when **spoiler** Dan loses his daughter right in front of him, the pain and loss convince him to never leave his family after he gets back to the present.
Much more character development. Dan’s dad has a better arc in the movie and he’s barely in it.
Sidenote: The early script I got was much more ‘woke’ than the movie I watched. The global warming angle was much bigger in the script, and we even saw the USS Barak Obama aircraft character. My guess is the writer was trying extra hard to get his script out of the slush pile and kissed up to what he thought the gate keepers wanted. I’m glad those elements got pulled back for the movie, as those would have been turds in the story punch bowl.
Overall: good movie. I want more from the same actors and the director. Less from the writer.