Wishing for a bigger screen
Pandemic continues to play havoc with the way we want (and get) to watch movies
The pandemic has made a mess of blockbusters, with delays and opening dates all over the place.
Two movies newly available on streaming services illustrate something of this confusion. The bigger of the two is The Tomorrow War (Amazon Prime), and it plays like the big-screen blockbuster it was clearly designed to be. Chris Pratt stars as Dan Forester, mild-mannered high school teacher (but also dangerous-mannered former soldier), husband and father to little Muri (Ryan Kiera Armstrong).
Dan is teaching in December 2022 when soldiers from the future arrive with news that an alien invasion has all but wiped out humanity in 2051 and draft him for service.
The story mixes elements of Alien and War of the Worlds, not to mention the time travel element, all of it overlaid with a theme of dads' redemptions. Pratt is worried about being a good parent to Muri, but also has a fractious relationship with his own father (J.K. Simmons, wonderfully gruff ), who's also ex-military, which you just know will come in handy.
It's gleeful popcorn fun, though I do wish it were on a bigger screen than the one I own.
Steven Soderbergh shot No Sudden Move for HBO Max in the U.S., so never meant it for the cinema. (On Crave in Canada.) That's still a shame, as I would have liked to have seen 1954 Detroit up on the silver screen, shot with period-appropriate camera lenses that sometimes stretch and distort the edges of the frame like a funhouse mirror.
That's an apt look for a story where you're never quite sure who to believe. (The film's tagline: “Trust is a setup.”) It opens with low-level gangster Curt Goynes (Don Cheadle) hired to “babysit” some hostages while an automobile executive (David Harbour, haggard to the max) is driven to his office to retrieve some kind of blueprint that someone much higher up in the criminal food chain desires.
Curt's team includes Ronald Russo (Benicio Del Toro) and Charley (Kieran Culkin), all of them working for Frank Capelli (Ray Liotta), though it soon becomes clear he's just another layer of middle management. In fact, the biggest fish in this ocean only shows up in the final act, delivering a bravado speech that ends with: “Shoot for the moon, boys!”
No, I won't tell you who the actor is, though he does get another great pizza-pie slice of dialogue: “You know what I love is when characters you've long since forgotten in this great novel called life show up at the end and the whole story gets filled right in.” I'm not saying that happens, but it's a helluva line.