The Tomorrow War: Good Explosions, Decent Time-Travel – Amazon Prime Review

Chris Pratt’s got to kill a bunch of aliens in the future.

I actually had no plans to see this film for a while because the advertisements had made me think it was going to be forgettably generic. However, I was fortunately told that it was better than I expected so I checked it out and was pleasantly surprised. While the premise is a bit ridiculous, the film plays it straight enough and adds enough believability to many of the characters that it actually ends up working. Also, the action sequences are pretty solid and the creature designs, while not groundbreaking, are actually shown in full lighting as opposed to partially shadowed or obscured like many of these films, making the effort put into them much more obvious.

Fun fact: Pratt has the least interesting backstory of any of these people.

The film starts with former Green Beret and current teacher Dan Forrester (Pratt) witnessing a group of time travelers from the future interrupt the World Cup. The travelers reveal they are soldiers from the future where humanity has been driven to near extinction by aliens called “whitespikes.” The aliens are difficult to kill and reproduce extremely quickly. Thanks to a timegate that allows travel between 2022 and 2051, the future can gain reinforcements from people in the present, provided that they are people who would be dead before the time they travel to in order to avoid paradoxes. People are quickly drafted from around the world to fight for seven day stints, but the mortality rate is high. Forrester is eventually drafted, much to his wife Emmy’s (Betty Gilpin) and daughter Muri’s (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) chagrin. He travels to the future along with kill-lover Dorian (Edwin Hodge) and scientist Charlie (Sam Richardson) and finds himself involved in a plan by one of the future colonels (Yvonne Strahovski) to save the human race. 

Welcome to the future. It’s like Starship Troopers, but less satire.

Admittedly, the premise of people from the past being drafted to the future is kind of cool, although they never explain why, even if the people drafted might die before 2051, it doesn’t create a paradox to kill them earlier. Fortunately, the movie kind of just glosses over that with the fact that the “jumplink” doesn’t really allow for traditional time travel, instead connecting two timelines (as to why that doesn’t resolve the paradox of meeting yourself, I don’t know). But enough about that, the movie’s main strengths are blowing aliens the hell up. The action sequences are pretty solid and they have just enough humor mixed in to keep the apocalypse from being too overwhelming. 

Cool designs are worth celebrating.

The other surprising strength of the film is in how it portrays humanity reacting to certain doom in the future: Most of the world stops caring quickly. Less than a year in and almost everyone is just using the eventual death of humanity as an excuse to be dicks rather than, say, trying to prevent said doom. It’s horribly accurate and accurately horrible.

 Mary Lynn Rajskub and Mike Mitchell have great supporting roles, also.

Overall, solid movie. Give it a try.

The Hunt (2020): Needs More Swank – Amazon Review

I take a look at the “most controversial movie you’ve never seen.”

SUMMARY

A group of elite “liberals” abduct a number of “deplorables” and hunt them for sport. The liberals include, among others, Athena Stone (Hillary Swank) and Richard (Glenn Howerton), and the deplorables include Moses (Ike Barinholtz), Yoga Pants (Emma Roberts), Gary (Ethan Suplee), Crystal (Betty Gilpin), and Don (Wayne Duvall). It’s Red State vs. Blue State, with the last man or woman standing apparently claiming moral superiority.

These are the prey. You can tell because they are heavily armed. Wait, what?

END SUMMARY

If you recall this movie, it’s probably because it was supposed to get released last year, until they stopped marketing it in response to a pair of mass shootings. This controversy was compounded by the fact that the President of the United States decided that he needed to weigh in on the movie, saying that it was “racist.” This take apparently was influential, despite the fact that the Liberals would be the bad guys in this movie and that political viewpoints are not a race. The release was then postponed. It was then moved to March of this year, with a new marketing campaign based around it being “super controversial.” Due to the fact that I don’t have a great history with films that market themselves around being controversial as opposed to, you know, GOOD, I wasn’t that psyched to see this movie. However, a friend recently told me that he enjoyed it, because this movie was essentially “(politically) moderate porn.” 

This was in response to a movie advertisement. I’m not saying anything further.

Apparently I’m not moderate enough, because I did not enjoy the cinematic experience to an erotic degree. Maybe I own too many guns, or too few, I don’t know, but I just never found the movie that compelling throughout most of it. I think, ultimately, it comes down to how the different sides are portrayed during the film. While the “Liberals” are actually pretty comically liberal, such as having discussions over their own privilege constantly, the “deplorables,” and yes I’m using that word because I think they’re a different group than Conservatives, are not exaggerated enough. One of the most common tropes in a horror movie, and this is mostly a horror film, is that audiences want victims to deserve it. The way that The Hunt seems to handle this is by assuming that the viewer will think that just because these people are conspiracy theorists, we’ll agree that they deserve to die, and that’s… hard. Even when the total situation is revealed at the end, that doesn’t somehow undo the emotional confusion from the first part of the film.

Particularly since our focal character hardly says anything.

Then there’s our main character, Crystal. Betty Gilpin does successfully portray her as a smart badass, but she’s still not that interesting for most of the film because the setting doesn’t allow her to be. She almost always seems to be in control, no matter what is happening, because she’s a former soldier, but until the literal last fight she appears to be too invincible to be a horror character. If you’ve seen the movie You’re Next, you’ll know that the key to having a kick-ass survivalist final girl is that they always need to be on the ropes, even though they’re superior to their assailants. This film doesn’t do that. 

At the end of the film, her hair is barely mussed.

However, there are a few solid points to the film. First, a number of the kills are humorous and surprising, which is always good for a horror movie. Second, the final act is actually really well done, particularly in terms of satire and thriller elements. The conversation between Betty Gilpin and Hillary Swank feels like it was pulled out of a much better script. I was amused throughout the whole sequence, which makes it only more tragic that I was pretty checked out through the first hour. 

I assume they promised Hillary Swank that she’d only have to work for like 10 days.

Overall, though, I just only found this movie to be mediocre. If you can catch it for free, maybe do that, but don’t pay $5.99 like I did. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Netflix Review – Coffee & Kareem: Talent Can’t Overcome Script

Ed Helms stars in a film that just can’t seem to figure out who it’s for.

SUMMARY 

James Coffee (Ed Helms) is a Detroit police officer who is dating Vanessa Manning (Taraji P. Henson), a single mom of one 12-year-old son, Kareem (Terrence Little Gardenhigh). Coffee has recently been disgraced after allowing notorious criminal Orlando Johnson (RonReaco Lee) to escape, putting him at odds with lead Detective Watts (Betty Gilpin). After Kareem sees Coffee and his mother having sex, he decides to track down Orlando Johnson and hire him to kill Coffee. He ends up witnessing Johnson’s men murder a dirty cop and is rescued by Coffee. The two end up having to work together to keep Vanessa safe and stop Johnson.

CoffeeKareem - 1Cast
Remember 48 Hours? That was a funny buddy comedy. 

END SUMMARY

So, in 1993, there was a movie called Cop and a Half starring Burt Reynolds and Norman D. Golden II about a cop working with a small child who witnessed a murder. That movie was cute, kid-friendly, sometimes funny, and had Burt Reynolds’s charm to bolster it. This film decided to go in a different direction. 

CoffeeKareem - 2CopHalf
Admittedly, parts didn’t age well.

A big problem is that this movie never clearly figured out what they were going for and it meant that you could never figure out whether you were supposed to like the characters or not. Kareem, for example, is a foul-mouthed poser who wants to front as a gangster, but is actually from Greenwich Village. Despite that, he does ACTUALLY TRY TO HAVE A COP KILLED, for which everyone kind of takes as an innocent mistake. His mother later insists that he’s just insecure and fronting, something that Kareem never admits, but at no point do they explain how Kareem could think that hiring a hitman was ever a good idea. He’s not really charming, he’s only occasionally funny, and he constantly makes things worse without appearing to undergo any character growth. Coffee, too, just isn’t likable, being either too dumb to live or, when he actually stands up for himself, being beaten back into submission. At one point he yells at Kareem about his actions, but then is forced to apologize. Apologize… to the kid who tried to have him murdered. 

CoffeeKareem - 3Cast
He does almost get him killed a lot. But not in funny ways.

Another problem is that the movie just isn’t that funny. They try to cash in on doing a lot of “edgy” jokes about pedophilia or having Kareem spout a number of swears that stand at odds with his being 12 years old, but none of them are amusing enough to merit the relative disgust that you’ll feel from the subject matter. I’m not saying that you can’t make good jokes out of the material, in fact other movies have, but these just fall flat. 

Coffee and Kareem
I admit that Ed Helms can look creepy with a mustache.

The funny thing is that you can tell that everyone is doing a solid job playing their parts. Ed Helms is really trying to sell the lines and sometimes he even succeeds, Gardenhigh gets the occasional laugh from a precision F-bomb, and RonReaco Lee has some fun moments. However, the only person who mostly nails it in the movie is Taraji P. Henson. Despite the fact that her character is basically just “stereotypical black mom in a movie after 2010,” she does usually sell the ridiculous crap coming out of her mouth. 

Overall, though, this movie was bad. Don’t waste your time.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.