The Tomorrow War is one of the most derivative sci-fi movies ever made. Even its title is borrowed from better sci-fi properties. ‘The Forever War’ is a classic sci-fi novel by Joe Haldeman, features a time-travelling soldier trying to kill bug-like alien invaders.
The Tomorrow War stars Chris Pratt as a time-travelling former soldier trying to defeat bug-like foreign invaders.
The alien invaders in The Tomorrow War have a strong resemblance to the bug-like foreign invaders from Starship Troopers. They also compare the xenomorphs in the ‘Alien’ movies. The time jumps in the film are like the time jumps in the first ‘Terminator’ movie.
The dynamic father-daughter bond is somewhat similar to the one in ‘Interstellar.’ The melodrama and chirpiness have an ‘Independence Day’ feel. The aliens swarm the ramparts similar to the zombies in ‘World War Z’. And so on.
We can explain the popularity of The Tomorrow War for several reasons. It’s on TV. Chris Pratt has always been a famous movie star. Sam Richardson, Richard Splett from Veep, plays a fairly significant role and is appealingly funny.
A 30-minute set-piece involving a time jump and a harrowing rescue mission in Miami Beach is a strong, tense short film amid a bloated narrative mess.
The movie always glorifies military violence as the solution to the world’s problems. Pratt plays the role of a high-school science teacher; it is shown that he is frustrated that he can’t get his dream job in a research lab.
His nine-year-old daughter is also clearly a prodigal science genius. Pratt is also an ex-special forces Iraq veteran. So, when he learns from the people who have come from the future that humanity needs cannon fodder against the aliens, Pratt’s character is the movie version of a power-up.
From there, the movie degenerates into blatant shooting and corny dialogue and unearned family sentimentality. And yet, amid all the machine-gun bursts and exploding heads, scientific research marches on, in the present and the future.
Its typical heroes, both Pratt and J.K. Simmons as his Vietnam-veteran father, are brilliant scientists as well as gun-toting men of action who chafe against the powers that be. Every other character is also either a scientific genius or someone who loves them.
While the story and writing are okay at best and nonsense at worst, the action here, including the CGI alien swarms, is top-notch. The “White Spike” aliens combine Starcraft’s Zerglings and Hydralisks, blindingly fast but utilizing their primary weapon of throwing large bone spikes that punch through humans like railguns.
The alien battles are intense, including a genuinely fantastic swarming of a human stronghold in the future and a final “boss battle” with Pratt and a queen alien that’s some of the best-choreographed action I’ve seen between a human and a twenty-foot-tall computer-generated alien.
They did an exceptionally okay CGI job with the White Spikes, enough to offset pretty much any other problems the film may have.