In 2022, Dan Forester (Chris Pratt), a former Green Beret and current biology teacher, gets a job at a distinguished science research laboratory. As he watches the World Cup with his 9-year-old daughter, Muri (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), and wife, Emmy (Betty Gilpin), a catastrophic event occurs. Soldiers from 2055 arrive to draft soldiers for a global war against alien “Whitespikes” that is due to begin in 2048. His deployment is for seven days but it will seem much longer. Emmy wants Dan to seek out his estranged father, James (J.K. Simmons), a mechanical engineer who fought in Vietnam, and ask him to remove the tracking band on his arm. Instead, Dan reports for basic training.
Using a wormhole called a “jumplink,” the new soldiers, after a minimum of training, arrive in the future amid a battle over Miami. The world is about to collapse unless something can be done. Colonel Muri Forester (Yvonne Strahovski), Dan’s grown daughter, is a field commander who eventually creates a toxin that will kill the female aliens, thus eliminating the Whitespikes. Dan returns to the present, where his team realizes that the aliens did not invade recently but during a millennial explosion around 1000 CE. They were buried and then frozen under a Russian glacier, which is now melting due to global warming.
The Tomorrow War is a boring sci-fi war drama, written by Zach Dean and directed by Chris McKay. It suffers from inane dialogue and a superficial story driven by explosions and aliens that reminded me of the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park. The father-daughter relationship was supposed to provide the emotional quotient, but it was awkward and trite. The theme of global war is concerning because it normalizes conflict for the sake of conflict. Though I was happy to see the theme of climate change making its way into action movies, this is the kind of film that makes you beg for better stories and screenwriters.
Not yet rated, PG-13 • Violence, some language, gore.
Estella Miller (Emma Stone) is the only child of Catherine (Emily Beecham). Estella is very bright and creative but can be cruel. Catherine’s nickname for her is Cruella. The girl refuses to comply at school and lashes out at the students who tease her because of her poliosis, a pigment condition that makes half of her hair white. Catherine withdraws Estella from school and takes her to London. On the way, they stop at a wealthy woman’s house to ask her for financial assistance, and Estella sees a fashion show for the first time. She also witnesses three ferocious Dalmatians push her mother over a cliff to her death.
Estella makes friends with Jasper (Joel Fry) and Horace (Paul Walter Hauser) in London, and they become thieves to survive. Cruella dyes her hair to better blend into a crowd. Later her friends get her a job as a cleaner at a fashion house owned by the baroness (Emma Thompson), and Cruella manages to get promoted as a designer and win her mentor’s trust. But when Cruella notices that the baroness is wearing her mother’s necklace, she realizes that she is responsible for her death. By creating havoc and competition at the baroness’ fashion shows, Cruella vows to get her revenge and learn the truth about who she is.
Cruella is a dark comedy based on characters created by Dodie Smith in her 1956 novel, The Hundred and One Dalmatians. It is meant to be Cruella de Vil’s backstory, but it may surprise some who won’t expect a revenge-driven story from Disney, a studio that has made billions on tales of delightful orphans trying to make it in the world. I like both Stone and Thompson in the film—they play off each other well. A psychological workup of the key characters would be interesting. Perhaps a sequel to this film will show us another side to this character.
A-3, PG-13 • Violence, revenge, murder, thievery, attempted infanticide.
Robin Wright, in her feature film directorial debut, plays the lead role of Edee, a woman who has suffered great loss and wants to live alone. She purchases a huge piece of property in the Wyoming wilderness and begins to live off the land and the meager provisions she brings with her.
After a near-death experience from exposure, she becomes friendly with Miguel (Demián Bichir), the hunter who found her dehydrated and dis-oriented. He promises to come back in the spring and teach her to plant and in the winter to teach her to hunt. After a year or two, Miguel asks her to tend his dog because he will be away for a while. Months later, she leaves her hermitage to look for him.
The stunning cinematography of Land creates a contemplative space for this study in contrasts about people dealing with grief: how a rich White woman copes with it by running away and isolating herself, and how a Native American man negotiates grief and regret within his family and culture.A-3, PG-13 • Some peril.