The Tomorrow War, Yesterday’s News

Chris Pratt may not be a great actor, but he’s a pretty serviceable movie star. He has charm to spare and occasionally pathos laid bare. He and a gruff, no-guff J.K. Simmons carry Chris McKay’s The Tomorrow War alongside some splendidly effective visual effects and, above all, legitimately scary alien designs that put quite a few other films of late to shame. An intermittently dreadful script, an otherwise forgetful supporting cast, and often flat cinematography prevent this would-be blockbuster from achieving the status of anything more than an entertaining diversion. That being said, entertaining diversions are still worth your time, particularly in a time mostly devoid of original content. The Tomorrow War may not be “original” in the traditional sense, as it’s chock-full of cliches and derivative of all from Independence Day to Edge of Tomorrow, but it’s also not at all based on pre-existing material. Bemoaning Hollywood’s lack of big-budget originality is beating a dead horse at this point. It’s nothing but yesterday’s news, like Paramount’s decision to jettison the film to Amazon Prime, a decision likely stemming from War‘s status as a big-budget original versus a tried-and-true franchise outing. Until audiences are willing to temporarily abandon their never-ending fandom to seek out new ideas and new stories, and spend money on them to boot, this will be the state of things. It’s gotten to such a point that a picture as unoriginal as this one gets points for simply not having IP to fall back on. Anyway, come for Pratt’s likable family man and a glowering J.K. not kidding around, stay for a few thrilling set pieces where helpless human beings try in vain to escape the clutches of some nasty critters, creatures that wouldn’t be ill-served in a horror film. And try to ignore the wasting of Betty Gilpin and Sam Richardson, the inane chatter that passes for dialogue, and the intense feeling of deja vu that creeps in from time to time.

Grade: C+

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