The Tomorrow War (2021)

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The Tomorrow War (2021)

A family man is drafted to fight in a future war where the fate of humanity relies on his ability to confront the past.

The Tomorrow War is a 2021 American military science fiction action film directed by Chris McKay, written by Zach Dean, and starring Chris Pratt. It was produced by David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, Don Granger, David S. Goyer, Jules Daly, and Adam Kolbrenner, with a supporting cast featuring 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.[5][6]

With a budget of US$200 million, the film has been one of the most expensive films to debut on a streaming platform. The Tomorrow War received mixed reviews from critics, with praise for the concept, action sequences, and performances (particularly Pratt and Richardson), but criticism for its derivative execution. A sequel is in development.

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The Tomorrow War (2021) Trailer


The Tomorrow War (2021) Reviews

Chris Pratt took all the clout and popularity he amassed from starring in the “Jurassic World” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchises and used them to make … “The Tomorrow War,” a blandly derivative and overlong sci-fi thriller.Originally scheduled pre-pandemic to premiere in theaters, it’s now arriving on streaming through Amazon Prime Video, but it’s hard to imagine that watching this on the big screen would have improved the experience significantly. With his first live-action feature, “The LEGO Batman Movie” director Chris McKay stitches together several overly familiar elements in unremarkable fashion:a bit of time travel, a horde of relentless alien invaders, a rag-tag band coming together to stop them, some unresolved father-son issues and a few misfit sidekicks to provide comic relief. The supposedly original script from writer Zach Dean offers very little that’s innovative or inspired.

Amid all this hackneyed madness is Pratt, straining to tap into dramatic chops he simply doesn’t have. He can be wildly charismatic zipping through the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the cocky Peter Quill, or he can be an engaging action hero handling dinosaurs as the brave Owen Grady. He’s also an infectious charmer in “The LEGO Movie” series as the voice of sunny Emmet Brickowski. But playing a bland suburban dad struggling to save his family—and all of humanity—isn’t Pratt’s strong suit. It gives him no room to swagger.And then once he gets thrown into the mayhem of jumping forward in time to stop the marauding aliens, his frequent wide-eyed, mouth-agape expression inadvertently calls to mind that famous Pratt meme from his pre-hunky days on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.” Then again, we’d probably all react that way to being thrown 30 years into the future and then dropped from the sky into a high-rise rooftop swimming pool, as Pratt’s character is in the film’s opening sequence.Human visitors from the year 2051 have traveled back in time to the present day to warn us that an alien invasion has besieged Earth, and civilians must leap ahead three decades to help fight them—that’s how decimated the population has become.

Among them is Pratt’s Dan Forester, a mild-mannered high school science teacher and Iraq war veteran. While he’s reluctant to leave his wife (an underused Betty Gilpin) and bright, nine-year-old daughter (the self-possessed Ryan Kiera Armstrong), he’s also proclaimed at the film’s start: “I am meant to do something special with my life,” as so many mediocre, middle-aged white men have before him. This is that thing.

Before he gets zapped, though, he must confront his estranged father (a seriously buff J.K. Simmons), which provides an opportunity for overacting and an indication of the histrionics to come. And as he’s getting fitted with the armband do-hickey that will transport him to the future for his week-long tour of duty, he learns he’s going to die in seven years anyway. Among the other soldiers in his troop are the nervous tech nerd Charlie (Sam Richardson of “Veep”) and the wisecracking weirdo Norah (Mary Lynn Rajskub). There’s not much to any of these characters.

What they’re all forced to confront upon arrival, whether they’re ready or not, is an army of albino creatures known as White Spikes. They scamper and gnash, have tentacles that strangle and slash, and they make a staccato growl like the sound you hear in “Predator.” They also look extremely cheesy, either individually or en masse. There’s something jumpy not only about the way they move but also about how the giant action scenes are edited. They have a slick, incessant mania to them that’s distancing. It certainly doesn’t help that everything is smothered with a barrage of gunfire and Lorne Balfe’s overwhelming score.Through it all, Pratt runs, grunts, shoots or yells “Nooo!” in slow motion. A lot. And that’s some of his more believable work here. Less impressive are his scenes with Yvonne Strahovski as the no-nonsense colonel delivering orders; she connects with him, in part, because of his military background. The “Handmaid’s Tale” standout is also the actor who emerges the most unscathed from this slog, delivering clunky, expository dialogue within this wild setting with surprising understatement. Pratt, however, seems outmatched opposite her.In the last half-hour, “The Tomorrow War” finally gives in completely to its “Alien” influences, with ear-splitting shrieks and blood and yellow-green fluids squishing and spewing everywhere. It’s as if a ballpark condiment bar became sentient and turned evil. This is the point at which things finally teeter over into so-bad-it’s-good territory, but by then, it’s too late. And anyway, in the future, no one can hear you scream.

  • Christy Lemire –  Roger Ebert
  • Christy Lemire is a longtime film critic who has written for since 2013. Before that, she was the film critic for The Associated Press for nearly 15 years and co-hosted the public television series “Ebert Presents At the Movies” opposite Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, with Roger Ebert serving as managing editor.

Many movies would like to be grouped with the likes of The Terminator, Alien, and Predator. However, although aspects of The Tomorrow War recall those films, they often feel more like a distant echo than a new chorus. This 2021 movie uses reliable science fiction/time travel/alien invasion tropes in ways that could be interesting but ultimately turn out to be regurgitations of stories we’ve seen before. The biggest “twists,” which relate to time travel paradoxes and alternate futures, are presented unimaginatively and the screenplay demands obtuseness from supposedly smart characters.

The Tomorrow War opens in the present day with the arrival of a group of soldiers from 29 years in the future. Having discovered a method of time travel (although the wormhole is inflexible and only connects 2022 with 2051), a desperate humanity has reached into its past in search of manpower to aid in their losing war against a pernicious, genocidal alien species.

This raises an obvious question that the movie never adequately answers: instead of drafting people to serve as “canon fodder,” why not take action to change history and avert the extermination of the human race? Maybe screenwriter Zach Dean and Chris McKay felt that such an approach would be too much like The Terminator but it would also make a lot more sense. One of the overriding problems with The Tomorrow War is that, like a lazily-written horror movie, it underestimates the audience’s intelligence on a regular basis.

Dan Forester (Chris Pratt) is selected to join the future army’s research division and his previous experience in combat makes him a natural leader. After saying a tearful goodbye to his wife, Emmy (Betty Gilpin), and his young daughter, Muri (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), he embarks upon his seven-day tour-of-duty in the future.

He immediately finds himself in the midst of a shitstorm and, after surviving that, he is brought to confer with the local commander, Colonel Muri Forester (Yvonne Strahovski), his now-thirty-something offspring. After giving him a chronology of his bad behavior (future for him, past for her), she recruits him to help her with her mission: develop a serum that is instantaneously fatal to the aliens.

It has been said that time travel movies are easy to do badly and difficult to do well. If that’s the case, then The Tomorrow War falls into the former category. The story loses credibility because the filmmakers didn’t think things through; the lack of internal consistency is maddening.

The argument that “it’s science fiction” doesn’t excuse some sizable plot-holes nor does it obviate the necessity of doing more than paying lip service to philosophically intriguing possibilities. (For example, the movie raises questions about whether the future is immutable or able to be changed but conveniently sidesteps an intelligent discussion.)

Ever since 1979, the shadow of H.R. Giger has loomed large over nearly every movie featuring an extraterrestrial monster and this is no exception. The creatures in The Tomorrow War looks like a hybrid of the Alien and the Predator with a few extra bells and whistles added for good measure.

They’re nicely designed as far as it goes but fall short on the originality scale. Their toughness seems to decrease the more we see of them. In the first encounter, they’re presented as nearly invulnerable. Later, Chris Pratt enters into what amounts to a fistfight with one of their most deadly specimens.

Pratt’s a stable, confident figure but he lacks the charisma he brought to both Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World. In those roles, he was allowed to incorporate a little snark into his performances but in The Tomorrow War, he’s playing it straight (and a little dour). None of his co-stars leave much of an impression (in large part because most of them are missing for large chunks of the running time), although J.K. Simmons (as usual) steals a scene or two as Dan’s estranged father.

Although the film’s sci-fi elements are flimsy at best, it boasts some strong action sequences. The special effects sometimes feel a little too video-game-y but, for the most part, they get the job done. The movie isn’t likely to bore the average viewer and there are legitimate attempts at doing something with an emotional payoff (both relating to Dan’s father/son relationship with his dad, and his father/daughter relationship with Muri).

Those things keep The Tomorrow War from becoming an unwatchable disaster but, make no mistake, as a planned major studio release (later sold to Amazon Studios when the pandemic forced a release date postponement), this is a disappointment.

  • A movie review by James Berardinelli

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The Tomorrow War (2021) Credits

The Tomorrow War movie poster

The Tomorrow War (2021)

Rated PG-13

140 minutes


Chris Pratt as Dan Forester

Yvonne Strahovski as Romeo Command

J.K. Simmons as Slade

Betty Gilpin as Emmy

Sam Richardson as Charlie

Jasmine Mathews as Lt. Hart

Edwin Hodge as Dorian

Mary Lynn Rajskub as Norah

Ryan Kiera Armstrong as Muri


  • Chris McKay


  • Zach Dean


  • Larry Fong


  • Roger Barton
  • Garret Elkins


  • Lorne Balfe

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The Tomorrow War (2021) Plot

In December 2022, biology teacher and former Green Beret Dan Forester is disappointed after failing to get a job at the Army Research Laboratory. Later, during the internationally televised World Cup, soldiers from the year 2051 arrive on the pitch via a time portal.

They announce that in November 2048, aliens called White Spikes suddenly appeared in northern Russia and had wiped out most humans within three years. The world of the present-day sends their militaries into the future through a wormhole device, but fewer than 30% survive their seven-day deployment, prompting an international draft. Dan receives a draft notice and is fitted with a temporal armband to track him and pull him back if he is alive at the end of his seven days.

The draftees are sent forward in time to a battlefield on Miami Beach, where their commander orders them to rescue nearby lab personnel before sterilizing the area. The draftees find that all the lab personnel are dead, but recover their research, and only Dan survives the firebombing with two fellow draftees, a scientist named Charlie and a draftee named Dorian, who is on his third deployment.

Dan awakens in a military encampment in the Dominican Republic overseen by his daughter Muri as Colonel. Muri tells Dan there is a toxin that kills male White Spikes, but not the female queens, and asks for his help in capturing a female White Spike to refine the toxin to be fatal to them. She also tells Dan that in the past, he became disillusioned after failing to get his research job, divorced his wife Emmy, and died in a car crash when Muri was sixteen.

They capture a female White Spike but are attacked by hundreds of males and narrowly escape by helicopter to a fortified offshore oil platform where the wormhole device is located. Muri succeeds in developing a toxin lethal to female White Spikes, but it cannot be mass-produced in that time period, so she asks Dan to take it into the past to produce it there and prevent the war. The base is overrun and Muri sacrifices herself to return Dan to the past, and the wormhole closes shortly after his arrival, which the world takes as a sign the future war is lost.

Dan and Emmy later infer that the White Spikes arrived on Earth much earlier than 2048 as there was never a record of their ship arriving. After finding volcanic ash on an alien’s spike, Dan and Charlie consult with Dan’s student, Martin, an amateur volcanologist. It is determined that the White Spikes have likely been on Earth at least since the “Millennium Eruption” in 946 AD. Dan leads a mission to Russia with Charlie, Dorian, stranded future soldiers, and his estranged father James, a veteran of the Vietnam War.

They find the alien ship frozen in ice beneath the Academy of Sciences Glacier, and surmise that global warming freed them in the future. They inject the toxin into several dormant White Spikes, destroying them, but this awakens the rest of the colony. The queen White Spike hatches and escapes. Dorian, terminally ill with cancer, stays behind and blows up the ship while Dan and James pursue the queen. After a fierce fight, Dan shoves the lethal toxin down the queen’s throat, killing her.

Content knowing that the war is averted and humanity is saved, Dan brings James home to meet Emmy and Muri, and is determined to avoid the same mistakes that the future Muri warned him about.

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The Tomorrow War (2021) Box office

On September 3, 2021, the film was released theatrically in China and grossed $8.1 million over the weekend, finishing in second. By the end of its run, the film made $19.2 million.


The Tomorrow War (2021) Critical Response

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 52% based on 206 reviews, with an average rating of 5.7/10. 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 35 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”.

Richard Roeper of the 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.” IndieWires 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.”[1] 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 Pratt’s acting. IGN criticized then described the movie as “Supremely stupid sci-fi”, and further stated that Pratt flounders in the movie.

Leah Greenblatt from the Entertainment Weekly gave the film a B− grade and commented “Eventually the storyline dissolves into soft-focus sentiment and a final, snowy set piece whose execution is so patently ludicrous a 1970s Bond villain might file for intellectual property rights (though the climate-change message is sneakily on point). Until then it’s enough, almost, just to watch Pratt & Co. race and banter and blast their way through Tomorrow‘s futures past.”

Robert Daniels from the Los Angeles Times wrote in his review “The Tomorrow War tries its hand at throwback ‘90s action glory, back when cinematic adventures could be everything for everybody. Instead, this post-apocalyptic combat flick lacks the intensity to reach the 1.21 gigawatts worth of power needed to emblazon our screens in escapist flair.”

Wendy Ide from The Observer wrote in her review, “The creature design is first-rate – the aliens are ravenous, rapid and equipped with a pair of death tentacles. And Pratt, and in particular Betty Gilpin as his wife, give likable, grounded performances. But the screenplay is a bloated, unwieldy thing that is at least 30 minutes longer than it should be.”[60]

Roxana Hadadi from Polygon considered the film to be repetitive and compared it unfavorably with Edge of Tomorrow and Starship Troopers, for which she stated “We get it! This average, blue-collar American is worthy of all our admiration! That approach is so clobbering and clunky that The Tomorrow War is constantly tripping over itself while delivering it.”Christy Lemire gave the film 1½ out of 4, and stated “The supposedly original script from writer Zach Dean offers very little that’s innovative or inspired.”

Barry Hertz from The Globe and Mail compared the film unfavorably with Independence Day and Starship Troopers, criticizing its unoriginality and wrote, “It is a fool’s errand to imagine what someone like Verhoeven would have done with The Tomorrow War’s material – this is a movie made for the express purposes of delivering some lazy woo-hoo summer fun, not any kind of sneaky subversiveness. But if I had a time machine, I’d punt myself to the past just before The Tomorrow War went into production, and save everyone the trouble.”

Peter Travers from ABC News’ Good Morning America considered the film with a cliched storytelling, gimmicky special effects and borrowed inspiration stating by commenting “The Tomorrow War chases its own tail for a crushingly repetitive 140 minutes to reach an ending you could have seen coming from deep space. To quote Yogi Berra, ‘It’s deja vu all over again.’ There’s nothing tomorrow about a recycled jumble that places all its bets on yesterday.”

Mick LaSalle from the San Francisco Chronicle praised the visuals, story and action sequences and stated, “Yet it would probably be a mistake to emphasize the relationship aspect of ‘The Tomorrow War’ too much. At its core, this is just a really good monster movie. All the same, there’s a touch of beauty to it.”

Allen Adams from The Main Edge gave the film 2.5 out of 5 and stated, “For all that, The Tomorrow War isn’t a bad watch. It’s got some action and some jokes and some decent performances. What it doesn’t have is that underlying originality, that expression of ideas that makes the best science fiction work so well. And unfortunately, audiences will distinctly feel that lack.”

Randy Myers from The Mercury News gave 3½ out of 4 by commenting, “Given the scope and spectacle of the action sequences — all tautly choreographed and edited — it’s a wonder that Paramount let this one get away. McKay might be best known for ‘Robot Chicken’ and ‘The Lego Batman Movie,’ but with ‘Tomorrow’ he emerges as the next go-to action director.”

Chris Agar from ScreenRant added in his review as a positive feedback , “The Tomorrow War boasts an interesting setup and solid performances by the cast, but it still comes across as unremarkable, if standard, genre fare.” Hoai-Tran Bui gave a positive feedback by scoring 6.5 out of 10 to the film and stated “The Tomorrow War is not by any means great sci-fi, nor is it even significantly good sci-fi. The film is half an hour too long and starts to feel like a slog by the end of the first hour.

The sentimentality threatens to veer into melodrama at points, which Pratt struggles to handle. But The Tomorrow War has got a trashy popcorn vibe to it that it wholeheartedly embraces, and a cornball machismo that you can’t help but get taken in by, even if just for a second.”


The Tomorrow War (2021) Accolades

eople’s Choice Awards December 7, 2021 The Movie of 2021 The Tommorow War Nominated
The Action Movie of 2021 Nominated
The Male Movie Star of 2021 Chris Pratt Nominated
The Action Movie Star of 2021 Nominated
Annie Awards February 26, 2022 Best Character Animation – Live Action Carmelo Leggiero, Cajun Hylton, Michel Alencar Magalhaes, Florent Limouzin, Dave Clayton Nominated
Visual Effects Society Awards March 8, 2022 Outstanding Special (Practical) Effects in a Photoreal Project J. D. Schwalm, Wayne Rowe, Jim Schwalm, Haukur Karlsson Nominated
Satellite Awards April 2, 2022 Best Visual Effects Carmelo Leggiero, James E. Price, J. D. Schwalm, Randall Starr, and Sheldon Stopsack Nominated

The Tomorrow War (2021) Movie Info

In The Tomorrow War, the world is stunned when a group of time travelers arrive from the year 2051 to deliver an urgent message: Thirty years in the future mankind is losing a global war against a deadly alien species. The only hope for survival is for soldiers and civilians from the present to be transported to the future and join the fight.
Among those recruited is high school teacher and family man Dan Forester (Chris Pratt). Determined to save the world for his young daughter, Dan teams up with a brilliant scientist (Yvonne Strahovski) and his estranged father (J.K. Simmons) in a desperate quest to rewrite the fate of the planet.

Watch The Tomorrow War (2021)

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The Tomorrow War (2021)

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