Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Tomorrow War, the bombastic sci-fi action flick from Amazon Studios, is probably my favorite film from them since Honey Boy and The Goldfinch. Much of their roster is hit or miss for me, but Chris Pratt starring in the lead role gave me immediate interest. I was pleasantly surprised with the film’s atmosphere and impressive creature design (the Whitespikes are like a mix of the Alien Queen from 1998’s The Faculty, with the fast-moving Prawns from 2009’s District 9.) This is essentially a 90s monster movie (think Deep Rising or Starship Troopers), only with shockingly impressive CGI and effects.

In December of 2022, soldiers emerge out of electricity, straight from a Terminator-style future where the world has been overrun by nasty monsters called Whitespikes. The only hope to save the future is to institute a worldwide draft of time-jumpers to make their way there, and join the fight against the Whitespikes. Among the new recruits is family man and high school science teacher, Dan (Chris Pratt), who may serve as a vital key in the future war. He is given a jump band that allows him to jump to and from the war happening in 30 years time, armed only with the knowledge that he’s due to die in just 7 years time. This isn’t some “John Connor scenario”—rather, Dan’s involvement and commitment to saving and preserving life changes the approach of other recruits. 

A surprising revelation about Romeo Command (Yvonne Strahovski), who leads the missions, adds layers to the narrative—the reason Dan is there is “need to know,” but it feels personal right from the beginning. Dan’s tense relationship with his father (JK Simmons) also comes into play in a major way. Working with this trio is crucial, as humanity’s existence hangs dangerously close to extinction. They must work together to unearth a way to stop the Whitespikes indefinitely.

For some reason, I had low expectations for this, and remained pleasantly surprised throughout. The ensemble cast is a big part of why this works so well. Any excuse for a shirtless Chris Pratt and form-fitting tank tops is okay in my book; he remains my favorite Hollywood Chris, proving he can juggle multiple genres while maintaining his signature charisma. Jurassic Park-style action is a perfect fit for Pratt, considering his resume with three films from that series under his belt. Strahovski is great too, sinking her teeth into a meaty role, and I also really enjoyed fellow recruit Charlie (Sam Richardson). The Tomorrow War carries a meta quality in the snappy dialogue that works more often than not.  “Glad Will Smith isn’t alive to see this,” one character remarks, acknowledging very clear Independence Day inspirations. 

Speaking of action, the outrageously fun explosions, over-the-top slow motion, and the Whitespikes themselves means there’s never a dull moment through the lengthy 2 hour, 20 minute runtime. The story never sags, with the sci-fi intrigue of the script making the pace of that length breezy and engaging. If you’re looking for an award-winner or an ounce of realism, this isn’t the movie for you. However, for those hungry for the next big blockbuster popcorn movie, The Tomorrow War is the perfect time capsule of 90s monster thrill rides.

The Tomorrow War explodes onto your TV screens, now streaming on Amazon Prime for free!

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