by Landon Johnson 01 July, 2021
Action-packed sci-fi films are back -- and The Tomorrow War proves that! Set in the near future, a task force of time travelers interrupts a World Cup soccer game to give humanity a message: They are fighting an extinction-level war against formidable aliens 30 years in the future -- and they are losing. The only hope to win the war against the aliens is to draft people from 2022 and send them into the future to fight.
Among those chosen from the present to fight for the future is high school teacher Dan Forester (Chris Pratt). Along with a small group of fighters, which eventually includes his estranged father (J.K. Simmons), they try to help save the future of humanity while dealing with their own emotional vulnerabilities and intimate family psychodrama.
At a recent press day, ScreenPicks got to speak with the filmmakers behind what can be only considered as one of the most action-packed films of the summer. We learned a lot about some of the more spectacular sequences and the deeper themes throughout the film.
Spectacularly directed by Chris McKay (The Lego Batman Movie) The Tomorrow War also stars Yvonne Strahovski (The Handmaids Tale), and Betty Gilpin (Glow) and is one of the most visually stunning films of the year thus far.
When asked about the most physically challenging part of shooting the film, Chris Pratt immediately cited one of the most striking sequences of the entire film, where the soldiers from the present are transported to the future. “There's a really great sequence and I know that we're focusing on the people of the present day, but when we do make that jump to 2051, there's this transition and we fall from the sky in Miami and land in a pool."
He continued, “We got to jump off of this high dive that we built out of a forklift and jump off into the water.” The Jurassic World actor said the entire sequence took two or three days to shoot and that it was “extremely physical... There's a camera down there, you're trying to get smashed into the ground and come up, and struggle into a close-up underwater. It was a lot of fun,” Pratt said.
J.K. Simmons also commented that he had his own physical challenges, even if he wasn’t in the time traveling sequence. “I didn't get to work in the water but I work in the frozen water which was a different exhilaration, and fun, and challenge, and coldness. It was great. I'm still a little miffed that McKay let them drag my traumatic slide down the glacier,” Simmons joked.
Betty Gilpin jokes about playing the “frowning” therapist and how her character didn't get to see any action. “There was a day where I had a bagel and I thought, ‘I want a second bagel.’ They announced there are almost no more bagels and my adrenaline was sky-high. We were rolling and luckily, I ran outside, got a second bagel and came back just in time for action."
Writer Zach Dean then shifted the focus back to the iconic pool scene and its inception. “The water scene had a lot of different incarnations, but it was always that sort of horrific idea of you leap into the future and you end up in an environment that you didn't expect at all,” he explained. Dean said he was very pleased with the final outcome. “I love it,” he exclaimed.
The filmmakers were then asked about the element of environmentalism in the sense that one generation has an obligation to help future generations.
Simmons compared that sentiment with his role as Dan’s estranged father. “When my sort of estranged dad kind of non-relationship, when we first get a glimpse of that, I was claiming that there was going to be some kind of a worthwhile journey there. There is, [laughs] no spoilers. It was great to be able to incorporate, again, really that small picture with the gigantic picture of, ‘Are we going to save the world or not?’”
Director Chris McKay also commented on the idea that one generation owes something to the next by saying, “What was really important about the scripts to me was the idea of what do you owe the future? What do you owe the world? How do you leave the world in a better place? Do you count your blessings that you have in front of you?”
The Tomorrow War launches globally, July 2nd, on Amazon Prime Video. Check it out and see if you would fight for the future.