Review – Guardian Of Another Galaxy (“The Tomorrow War”)

Yesterday’s tomorrow is today’s next week. . . or something like that. In a plot that borrows from Edge of Tomorrow, The Terminator, and a few Outer Limits episodes thrown together, the MCU’s Chris Pratt fights deadly aliens 30 years in our future. Where’s Drax when you need him?

First meant to be a Christmas 2020 theatrical release, Amazon snapped up the rights for distribution on their Prime Video streaming platform. Originally titled Ghost Draft, this movie deals with our future. . . and it pretty much sucks. In 2051, space creatures called White Spikes (lobster/lizard/dog-looking thingys with tentacles that shoot spikes) are everywhere and, in about three years, will end all civilization on our planet. Bummer. However, time-travelers from 2051 come here to 2022 and desperately recruit any and all able-bodied men & women to fight these aliens using sophisticated time-travel wristbands. Neat!

But first, we gotta meet our hero. He’s high school science teacher and former Green Beret Dan Forester (Pratt), a loving family man married to therapist Emily (Betty Gilpin) and doting father to adorable little Muri (Ryan Kiera Armstrong). As the worldwide armies are killed off in the future, a universal draft is implemented, and that means Dan is chosen for a highly dangerous seven-day mission in 2051. IF he survives, he can return home, and being a former soldier gives him a distinct advantage. That’ll come in handy for his teammates, comic-relief Charlie (Sam Richardson) and death-wish returnee, Dorian (Edwin Hodge). But once they’re in 2051 searching for valuable lab materials, all hell breaks loose and the White Spikes attack!

Barely escaping death, Dan meets his commanding officer and it’s (*gulp!*) Colonel Muri Forester (Yvonne Strahovski), his daughter! She’s all grown-up, a bad-ass with either a gun or a test tube, and has found a way to defeat the alien creatures using an anti-toxin derived from the super-nasty Queen alien. Problem is, Dan has to go back to 2022 to replicate it and save humanity. Sounds easy, right?! Wrong! Things go south fast and after Dan is pulled back to 2022 with the formula, he finds there’s no way to stop the creatures in the future! Drat! However, through sheer ingenuity, dumb luck, and some good old-fashioned deus ex machina, he’s figured out a clever substitute that will work.

Quicker than you can say, “Avengers! Assemble!”, Dan gets together a team of ex-time-jumping soldier friends, his estranged father (J.K. Simmons), and they all go on another dangerous expedition, but this time to the icy, snow-covered mountains of Russia. After seeing time-travel movies like Back to the Future and Edge of Tomorrow which features alterable/correctable timelines, this ending will leave you scratching your head as it makes no sense. Unless you subscribe to the multiverse timeline of Avengers: Endgame, which doesn’t work for me. Another odd factor: the year 2051 has NO laser guns, pulse/plasma rifles, or even drones?? WTH!? This future is pretty anti-science!

Blame all the gaping plot holes on screenwriter Zach Dean, who’s only written two forgettable movies (24 Hours To Lives, Deadfall). Although this pretty good fan-fiction presents a tangible, interesting story, it obviously steals from other time-travel & sci-fi movie plots (Aliens, Looper, Starship Troopers, etc.) and therefore gets boring in the second act. However, the third act has a nice spin, albeit it rips-off John Carpenter’s The Thing. I will say the CGI effects are quite good and effective and the script doesn’t go all full military protocol, but adds quite a bit of humor, mostly because of Pratt and Richardson.

What really sells this long movie (2hrs 18min) is the expert camera work by Chris McKay, a noted comedy director that only gave us the hilarious The Lego Batman Movie and a bunch of Robot Chicken animated shorts. Hardly the resume for this alien/war/actioner, but McKay pulls it off like a veteran filmmaker. Impressive. Pratt gives his usual performance, but it’s his co-stars that really stand out. Simmons, for his small role, shines through as he does will all his roles. Richardson gives a likable, lovable showing and Hodge is wonderfully intense. And watch for young Armstrong to go places as that kid has charisma.    

**Now streaming exclusively on Amazon Prime

Future War (1997)

There are bad movies like The Happytime Murders, then there are truly awful, but hilarious terrible films like The Room, Birdemic: Shock & Terror, and of course, Manos: The Hands of Fate. This extremely low-budget loser boasts terrible acting, bad dubbing, a whole lotta cardboard boxes, and a director & screenwriter who had no idea what they were doing.

After a baffling beginning that features bits of the end of the movie and, what appears to be some kind of spaceship mutiny in space (??), a runaway human slave–known only as the Runaway–and is played by Swiss actor Daniel Bernhardt who is trying to imitate Jean-Claude VanDamme with average martial art skills and showing off his chest pecs. Anyway, he escapes to Earth, which he calls Heaven ’cause he read the Bible on the ship. But he hasn’t the time to take in the sights of L.A. since he’s being hunted by Cyborgs who want him back!

AND these nasty Cyborgs use (are sitting down?) dinosaurs as their trackers (like bloodhounds) to sniff out the slaves! These dinosaurs, I must point out, are mostly hand puppets using forced perspective camera trickery to look huge, but they still look ridiculously silly. Coincidentally, our hero meets up with Sister Ann (Travis Brooks Stewart) a novice nun with street connections the likes of Raymond Reddington from TV’s Blacklist.

Together, these two must do battle with the Master Cyborg (human chin Robert Z’Dar) and a whole slew of dinosaurs, while the local LAPD just run around and do nothing. Luckily, Sister Ann has some old L.A. gang friends to help them out as they bomb the storm drains, the lair of the big bad puppets. . . I mean, T-Rex’s.

This was Anthony Doublin’s directorial debut, and it showed. Doublin, an award-winning special effect/miniature model maker from low-budget films like Bride of the Re-Animator and Carnosaur, clearly was out of his depths as his “style” was to just shoot whatever he could and use it, no matter how bad it was. And those props!! LOL!! A ‘police scanner’ is just a regular boom-box, a TV news camera is an obvious fake, and what’s with ALL those cardboard boxes in nearly every scene?? And don’t get me started on how BAD the dubbing was!!

The screenplay by Dom Magwili (American Streetfighter) was even worse. A non-sensical, non-cohesive, uneven, and bizarre script that featured utterly corny and dumb dialogue. Did an eight-year-old write this? In fact, everyone on the crew knew this movie was bad, so much so, they said it’ll probably get riffed on MST3K, which eventually it DID!! Mike Nelson and the ‘bots tore it apart in Season 10, and you can see that episode for free on YouTube. 

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