For summer, another formulaic adventure, another light fiction, but entertaining nonetheless.
The Tomorrow War (on Prime, free with subscription)
I must be in summer mode because as super-cliched as the sci-fi thriller The Tomorrow War is, I enjoyed it. That appreciation may be the result of my putting aside the usual critical solemnity and expectations for fine art. Like f9, this alien-apocalypse future feature is entertaining, absurd, and contains kernels of universal truths to raise it above the comic-book level or the indulgence of violence for its own sake.
Dan Forester (Chris Pratt), dedicated science teacher and devoted dad, must go 28 years into the future to stop ugly aliens from destroying humanity. They’re hungry, and strangely, we look delicious! They probably never attended a Republican rally or saw the audience for Will Smith’s Independence Day.
How Dan saves mankind and keeps his family whole in this wildly improbable fiction is not as important as what writer Zack Dean and director Chris McKay wanted to say about being human, even during parlous times when kindness is in short supply. Relying on the primacy of family is a major stimulus for success, and it seems lately many thrillers rely on the father-daughter combination to carry the success, as well as machine guns and time loops, of course.
Closely allied is the seeking home motif, or in this case, protecting it at almost any cost. Such is the case for the Foresters, whose divorce is predicted by looking into the future, and whose daughter is in grave danger by their looking into the future, which is accessed through a time link going only from present to about thirty years ahead. Not pretty are the results of climate change, a source of dread we thirty years behind can fully appreciate.
The Tomorrow War is escapism today replete with spindly, ravenous aliens and flawed humans. But hope springs eternal—try some by way of this entertaining piece of candy.
The Tomorrow War
Director: Chris McKay (The Lego Batman Movie)
Screenplay: Zach Dean (Deadfall)
Cast: Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy), Yvonne Strahovski (Stateless)
Run Time: 2h 20m
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JohnDeSando62@gmail.com