The Tomorrow War (2021) Amazon Prime.
Chris Pratt, moonlighting from fighting aliens and saving the world in the Guardians of the Galaxy, takes time out to star in The Tomorrow War, in order to fight aliens and save the world. Directed by Chris McKay this is a scyfy military action movie that involves time travel and scary aliens. Thirty years into the future, aliens have more or less wiped out most of the people, and there are only 500,000 left. They’ve jerry-rigged a time machine that can only do there and back again to send a group of people to todays’s time, and ask for people to go back with them to help fight the aliens, known as Whitespikes (they’re a whitish colour and shoot lethal spikes from their tentacles.) The world govt’s decides to help and so all the world’s armies go off to fight and when they run out of those, they draft people, anyone is eligible. Notably they get very little training, and are automatically jumped back from the future after a 7 day stint. Only 20% of them are surviving, and the ones that do need a lot of therapy. Pratt plays Dan, a former Green Beret but now a biology teacher. His wife Emmy (Betty Gilpin) is a councellor for returned draftee’s and they have a daughter, Muri, played by Ryan Kiera Armstrong initially, and Yvonne Strahovski further up the timeline. Of course Dan is drafted. J.K.Simmons plays Dan’s estranged Dad, Sam Richardson is Charlie who becomes friends with Dan. There’s a small part for Mary Lynn Rajskub (who I really liked as the grumpy Chloe O’ Brian in the TV series 24) and Edwin Hodge is Dorian, on his third tour of alien duty because he’s dying of cancer anyway and he wants to go out in style. (mini spoiler- he does). So no more spoilers from me.
Fraggle rating ~ a better than average popcorn movie. Visually stunning and I found no problems with the acting, everyone was on board. The aliens are Designed by Ken Barthelmey who did the Grievers for Maze Runner. They’re like a mash up of those in The Quiet Place, Captive State, & Starship Troopers with a bit of Alien chucked in and they move like the Zombies in World War Z, fast and furious. They get a goodly amount of screentime anyway, (unlike Captive State!). Eminent critics have criticised it for being derivative of other, better time travel movies, or other, better alien movies, that’s probably true enough, but Phil & I enjoyed the twist, and how they put it all together. Besides, they’re ALL derivative of H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine in one way or another! Get some popcorn and a beverage, suspend belief, and have a blast!
Flags of Our Fathers 2006
Phil and I have been re-watching the excellent Hanks/Spielberg series The Pacific, set in WW2 and as a supplementary movie, we re-watched Flags of Our Fathers, one of two companion films co-produced and directed by Clint Eastwood (who also wrote the score). Written by Wiliam Broyles Jr and Paul Haggis from the 2000 book by James Powers and Ron Bradley, (the son of Doc Bradley) it covers an incident that happened on Iwo Jima when five marines and a Navy Corpsman (medic) raised the American flag at the top of a cliff on Mount Surabachi, and the effect that had on the rest of their lives. What complicated matters is that the flag was actually raised twice, due to the Secretary of the Navy wanting the flag for himself as a souvenir. It gets taken down and another one is sent up with Corporal Rene Gagnon for the troops. Mike, (Barry Pepper) Doc Bradley (Ryan Phillipe), Ira a Native American, (Adam Beach) Rene (Jesse Bradford), and two other Marines (Corporal Harlon Block and Private First Class Franklin Sousley) are photographed by Joe Rosenthall as they raise the second flag. The photograph becomes famous and becomes a big morale booster. Rene is asked to identify the 6 and he does so in spite of Ira not wanting to, and he also misidentifies Harlon as Sgt Hank Hansen, who actually took part in raising the 1st flag. Rene, Ira and Doc get sent home to do the raising of war bonds, and they are not happy that Harlon has not been given his dues, but Bud Gerber (John Slatterly) of the Treasury Dept tells them the country cannot afford the war and if the bond drive fails, the U.S. will abandon the Pacific and their sacrifices will be for nothing. The three agree not to tell anyone that Hank was not in the photograph. Both Hank and Harlon die in the subsequent fighting. It also shows what happens to the three after the war, with Ira coming to a sad end, Rene ending up as a janitor unable to find meaningful work, but Doc, who is awarded the Navy Cross for extreme heroism during the battle, buys a funeral home and makes a success of his life. He tells his story to his son James on his deathbed, and James it is who wrote the book.
Fraggle rating:- Can’t fault any of it, the fighting scenes don’t hold back and the politics regarding the war bond subterfuge are handled sympathetically. The acting is spot on. As critic Richard Roeper writes “a patriotic film in that it honors those who fought in the Pacific, but it is also patriotic because it questions the official version of the truth, and reminds us that superheroes exist only in comic books and cartoon movies.” Looking forward to Letters from Iwo Jima, when Clint does it all from the Japanese perspective.
Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)
In spite of being a petrol head I have not followed the Fast & Furious franchise, but in need of an action movie and with Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson starring I thought it wouldn’t matter that I didn’t really know their back story within the franchise. I was right, it didn’t matter. Directed by David Leitch who cut his teeth on John Wick and followed up with Atomic Blonde and Deadpool 2, all of which are great action movies so I was expecting a good one. Hobbs (Johnson) a DSS guy and Shaw (Statham) ex British Forces & MI6 operative have to work together in spite of their mutual animosity to help Shaw’s sister Hattie, (Vanessa Kirby) also MI6. She has led a team of agents to recover a programmable super virus from techno-terrorist organization Eteon. As they find it the baddie turns up, Idris Elba as Brixton Lore, an Eteon operative with cybernetic implants that allow him to perform superhuman feats. Hattie injects herself with the virus and does a runner, whilst Brixton and his henchmen kill off the rest of the MI6 agents. No more spoilers.
Fraggle Rating: The plot is ridiculous, the script is hokey, and the action preposterous but fabulous. Car/bike chases and choreographed fight pieces are very well done as one would expect. Statham is Statham, Johnson is Johnson, and Idris Elba is just wrong. The highlight and saving grace of this movie is Vanessa Kirby, who performs some excellent kickassery, and who’s acting chops are far better than this movie requires.
Letters From Iwo Jima (2006)
Clint Eastwood’s companion movie to Flags of Our Fathers, and the two movies were shot back to back. This time we see the battle from the Japanese point of view, and the movie has subtitles as everyone is speaking Japanese, as they would. The movie begins with present day (ish) archaeologists digging in the caves on Iwo Jima, and one of them finding a buried cache of letters from the men who were living in the caves. Through the letters we get to know a little of the lives of some of the main characters, General Tadamichi Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe) and Private First Class Saigo, (Kazunari Ninomiya). The story starts with the Japanese getting ready for the inevitable US invasion, and shows their poor living conditions, poor diet – weed soup is the menu du jour, dysentry is rife. Then the US marines land and over run the beaches, climb Mount Surabachi and we follow Saigo as he avoids being killed, survives being ordered to kill himself, and gets to join back up with General Kuribayashi. No need for more than that. We all know how it ended.
Fraggle rating : It’s a Clint movie, so the cinematography and direction is top notch. The actors give it their all and both Saigo and Kuribayashi are sympathetic characters. Eastwood has not portrayed them as evil gits, but tries to escape from those stereotypes, which was appreciated by Japanese audiences, as was the fact that it was also scripted with excellent research into Japanese society at that time. However it has been criticised for having Japanese characters that were capable of being decent, caring fellows, just so long as they’ve spent some time in the United States as Kuribayashi and another ‘kind’ officer had. Not sure I agree with that as a I researched the ‘real’ people and not all the good guys had been to America. Anyway, it’s a good movie well done, which is what I expect from Mr. Eastwood.