|The Tomorrow War|
|Directed by||Chris McKay|
|Written by||Zach Dean|
|Music by||Lorne Balfe|
|Distributed by||Amazon Studios|
The Tomorrow War is a 2021 American military science fiction action film directed by Chris McKay and starring Chris Pratt. The picture is produced by David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, Don Granger, David S. Goyer, Jules Daly, and Adam Kolbrenner, and written by Zach Dean. The supporting cast features Yvonne Strahovski, J. K. Simmons, Betty Gilpin, Sam Richardson, Edwin Hodge, Jasmine Mathews, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, and Keith Powers. It follows a mix of present-day soldiers and civilians sent into the future to fight an alien army.
Originally set for theatrical release by Paramount Pictures, the film's distribution rights were acquired by Amazon due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and digitally released on July 2, 2021 via Prime Video. The Tomorrow War received mixed reviews from critics, with praise for the concept, action sequences, and performances (particularly Pratt and Richardson), but criticism aimed towards its derivative execution. A sequel is in development.
In December 2022, biology teacher and former Green Beret Dan Forester fails to get a job at a prestigious research center. During the broadcast of the World Cup, soldiers from the year 2051 arrive to warn that humanity is on the brink of extinction due to a war with alien invaders referred to as the "Whitespikes." The Whitespikes will arrive in November 2048 and kill the majority of humanity within three years after their arrival. In response, the world's militaries are sent into the future via a wormhole device called the "Jumplink," but fewer than 30% survive their seven-day deployment, prompting an international draft.
Dan receives a notice that he has been drafted and when he tells his wife, she says they should run and talks Dan into visiting his estranged father, a mechanical engineer, for help in removing the draft band attached to his arm. Dan's father left him and his mother after he returned from Vietnam because he felt it was dangerous to remain with them, but Dan says he doesn't want his help and calls him a coward, then leaves. Dan reports with other draftees to basic training. Dan deduces with fellow draftee Charlie that to prevent a paradox, those drafted have already died before the war starts and those who have come from the future haven't been born yet. The draftees are sent forward in time to a battlefield on Miami Beach but few survive, having accidentally been dropped high above the city. The field commander, Colonel Forester, orders the draftees to rescue nearby lab personnel before the area is sterilized. They discover the lab personnel are already dead but recover their research. Dan radios command about the situation, and he is told that no help will be sent to rescue the stranded troops. Nearly everyone dies, except for Charlie, Dan, and Dorian, a battle-hardened soldier on his third deployment to the future.
The survivors wake up in a military encampment in the Dominican Republic. Dan reports to Col. Forester, who turns out to be his grown daughter Muri. She requests he accompany her on a mission to capture a female Whitespike, which are rarer than the males typically encountered. They trap and cage the female, only to have hundreds of males descend on their position. As the helicopter with the female lifts off, Dan and Muri escape to a beach and radio for rescue. Muri reveals to Dan that, dissatisfied with his life after losing the job, he abandons his family and dies in a car crash in 2030. Dan, Muri and the female Whitespike are transported to a fortified oil rig close to Port Nelson, where the Jumplink is located.
Muri creates a toxin that can kill the Whitespikes. The Whitespikes attack and overrun the base to free the female, and Muri sacrifices herself to send Dan back to the past. Although he returns to 2023 with the toxin, the Jumplink is destroyed. The world interprets the Jumplink's destruction as a sign that the future war is lost.
While Dan brainstorms with his wife, Emmy, she deduces that the Whitespikes did not arrive in 2048, but came much earlier. Dan consults with Charlie and Martin, a high school student with an interest in volcanoes, and they theorize that the Whitespikes have been on Earth since at least the "Millennium Eruption" in the year 946, and global warming caused them to thaw out and emerge from under the ice caps. Dan leads a mission to Russia with Charlie, Dorian, a few surviving future soldiers, and his estranged father James to prove his theory. The team finds a crashed alien ship at the Academy of Sciences Glacier on Komsomolets Island. They debate telling the world about the problem, but decide to end the threat themselves. Once inside, they realize that the Whitespikes are not the aliens themselves, but rather bio-engineered organisms possibly used as a planet-clearing weapon or cattle by another alien race. The team injects several of the dormant Whitespikes with the toxin; this kills the injected ones but wakes the others, and most of the team is killed. Dorian, terminally ill with cancer and wanting to die on his own terms, stays behind to blow up the ship with C-4, and the explosion kills all but one of the Whitespikes. Dan and his father hunt and kill the one female that had escaped, leaving them and Charlie as the team's only survivors.
Content knowing that the war is averted and humanity is saved, Dan brings James home to meet his wife and daughter, determined not to make the same mistakes that Muri had warned him about from her future.
It was announced in February 2019 that Chris Pratt was in negotiations to star in the film (then known as Ghost Draft) and that it would be directed by Chris McKay. In July, Yvonne Strahovski was cast. J. K. Simmons, Betty Gilpin, Sam Richardson, Theo Von, Jasmine Mathews, Keith Powers were cast in August, with Mary Lynn Rajskub, Edwin Hodge, and additional cast joining in September. The movie was later retitled The Tomorrow War. Creature designer Ken Barthelmey designed the film's aliens.
The film was initially scheduled for release on December 25, 2020 by Paramount Pictures, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic it was rescheduled to July 23, 2021, taking the release date of Mission: Impossible 7, then later pulled from the schedule again.
In January 2021, Amazon Studios was in final talks to acquire the film for around $200 million. In April 2021, it was announced that Amazon had officially acquired the film, and released it on Amazon Prime Video in 240 countries worldwide on July 2, 2021. Samba TV reported that 2.41 million households watched the film from July 2–5, the most ever for an Amazon Original tracked by the service. According to Screen Engine's PostVOD summary, the "definite recommend" audience score for the film was 53%, compared to a normal score for a streaming title of 42%.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 54% based on 164 reviews, with an average rating of 5.8/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Chris Pratt ably anchors this sci-fi adventure, even if The Tomorrow War may not linger in the memory much longer than today." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 45 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Nick Allen at The Playlist gave the film a "B+", writing that "blockbuster movies are often as loud and action-based as The Tomorrow War, but they're rarely as diverse in tone or so delightfully wild when it comes to in-your-face entertainment." He also called it "bold" and compared McKay's style to that of Michael Bay and Zack Snyder. Richard Roeper of Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 2 out of 4 stars and wrote, "The Tomorrow War is an earnest effort to bring something new to the time-travel action genre, but this movie is a 2021 vehicle made of parts from the 2010s and the 1990s and 1980s." IndieWire's David Ehrlich gave the film a C grade, writing, "Which isn't to say that The Tomorrow War is bad — it boasts a clever premise, a killer supporting turn from Sam Richardson, and an uncommonly well-defined sense of place for such a murky CGI gloop-fest... But for all of those laudable attributes, this flavorless loss-leader of a film is neutered by its refusal to put audiences on their heels." John Defore writing for the Hollywood Reporter wrote that "the pic may be missing that certain something that would have made it huge in theaters" but that it is entertaining on Amazon stream anyway and praised Chris Pratt's acting. IGN criticized then described the movie as "Supremely stupid sci-fi", and further stated that Chris Pratt flounders in the movie.
Martin Thomas of Double Toasted felt that while the film succeeded in dealing with the character's situations, he added the entire third act completely became comical and disrupted the tone of the film. He further noted that the film was a "ripoff" of Independence Day and borrowed many similar beats. He also speculates that the premise was inspired by the classic sci-fi novel called The Forever War based on Joe Haldeman's Vietnam War experiences.
In July 2021, Deadline Hollywood reported Skydance and Amazon were in talks about producing a sequel, with director Chris McKay, screenwriter Zach Dean, and stars Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, Betty Gilpin, Sam Richardson, Edwin Hodge, and J.K. Simmons all returning.
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