Three out of five stars

I can easily appreciate a movie that gives me the chance to escape reality for a while, feeding my eyes with a setting and story that’s pure entertainment.

The Amazon original movie, The Tomorrow War starring Chris Pratt, doesn’t fail to engage its audience with its action, creative scenario, and overall acting from Pratt.

Released July 2, this Sci-Fi action thriller takes place in December, 2022. Army veteran Dan Forester (Pratt) is watching the World Cup with his wife, young daughter, and a house full of friends when the game is interrupted. Soldiers from the future suddenly arrive through a time portal right onto the soccer field.

They’ve come from the year 2051 asking for help for all mankind. In the future, alien creatures dubbed “whitespikes” have hunted and killed a majority of the Earth’s population. The human race is on the edge of extinction. It’s just a matter of time before that becomes a reality. So, soldiers are traveling back into time in the hopes that recruiting people from the past can build up armies of the future and defeat the whitespikes. They inform the world that these ravenous alien creatures suddenly and mysteriously appeared on earth, with first sightings occurring in Russia in 2048.

World leaders heed the call from the future, and implement a draft to send civilians to fight the war that hasn’t happened yet.

Those drafted are required to spend a full week in the future, and will return a week after departure. The future’s time moves consistently with the past which means civilians can’t return in the instant after they left. If they stay a week in the future, they’ll return a week from their departure time.

Draftees wear an arm band which makes it possible for them to time travel through “jumplinks” into the future. The bands are set to automatically send them back to their own time once their time of service is up.

Soon, Forester is drafted into the future war and is required to report for very brief basic training.

While awaiting his jumplink, he befriends Charlie (Sam Richardson), a fellow draftee with PhD in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

When they’re transported into the future, the soldiers are accidentally dropped high above Miami Beach, Fla. Only a few survive.

Their field commander orders the team to rescue laboratory personnel in a nearby research center as the area is about to be cleared of whitespikes.

Forester has his introduction to the aliens — large powdery-white reptilian species with razor teeth that feed on humans, and can shoot poisonous darts from their scorpion-like tails. No time is wasted as Forester’s seven days in the future leads to the revelation of hard truths on top of hopelessness that the human race will survive the infestation of the whitespikes.

When he jumps back to 2022, he can either let humanity succumb to its fate, or work to save humanity with the slim-chance solution that his Field Commander discovered could save the world.

The movie plays out like an entertaining science fiction pocket paperback that an engaged reader will finish in one sitting.

As soon as the movie begins, it doesn’t waste time pulling the audience into its story.

And that story makes a creative effort to create something new into the time travel story genre.

In some instances, The Tomorrow War falls a little too cliché and preachy.

It’s blatantly obvious what Forester’s role is in the ultimate rescue of the entire human species. He makes that clear when he tells his daughter, “You know what it takes to be the best. You got to say to yourself, ‘I will do what no one else is willing to do’.” That’s practically the catchphrase of every action movie hero. All that’s missing is some “chosen one” prophecy.

Pratt maintains his “buddy” persona with a keen sense of determination to accomplish whatever mission he’s on as seen in his other roles in science fiction films such as Owen in Jurassic World, Jim Preston in Passengers, and Peter Quill/ Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy. He’s likeable in these roles, but in this movie his character needs better lines than what he’s given.

In one scene, Forester declares, “If there’s one thing that the world needs right now, it’s scientists. We cannot stop innovating. That’s how you solve a problem.” So, only science will save the world. A lot of heavy artillery seems to help immensely. It’s as though the movie assumes it has to teach its audience something, so it throws out this line for just that purpose. The Tomorrow War really doesn’t need a moral to its story. The aliens arrive. Humans fight back. It has been done before, but the time travelling aspect gives it some originality. I’m happy with just that.

The movie doesn’t slow down much when it comes to the action. Yet, the final act seemed forced and tacked on. I found it more plausible that carnivorous aliens could kill off humanity than I did in what takes place at the end.

Nevertheless, The Tomorrow War presents an engaging and fun SciFi action story. It accomplishes what it sets out to do. It’s an enjoyable movie for audiences wanting to escape reality for two hours and twenty minutes.

MICHAEL SELLMAN is an employee of the Dorothy Bramlage Public Library and an occasional freelancer for The Junction City Union.

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