Aliens! Time travel! Chris Pratt’s Aw Shucks Everyman Demeanor!
BQB here with a review of Amazon’s latest (first?) sci-fi blockbuster.
In its early days, streaming media brought us a new age of golden television, with a lot of hits coming to the forefront that would have otherwise been lost. Lately, in the past few years, IMO, streaming service generated movies and/or TV have been rather stale, stagnant – devised by committee tripe designed to appeal to the widest possible audience without really achieving anything.
In my further opinion, Amazon has been the worst at creating its own content. At least Netflix gave us House of Cards and Stranger Things. Hulu gave us The Handmaid’s Tale, though it looks like they’re going to milk that for all its worth and never come up with something new.
Amazon has had a couple of interesting flicks here and there. While I would never watch it again for fear of being swept into a depression coma, Manchester-by-the-Sea was a sad, poignant study of how sometimes a man can screw up his life so badly that a happy ending is simply not possible. I also enjoyed 2019’s The Aeronauts, about a death defying flight in a hot air balloon in the 1800s.
But by and large, Amazon really stunk it up. I finally ponied up the dough for their streaming service in March to watching Coming to America 2 and while it had its fun moments, it was sad, watching the great comedian Eddie Murphy, who no doubt still has plenty of funny left in him, be proverbially chained up like a captured tiger in a cage, unable to roar and make us roar with laughter because, OMG, he might offend someone somewhere and Amazon can’t have that. Someone might get so offended they might go to another service that will allow them to buy a toothbrush and a tin drum of popcorn and a pair of fuzzy bunny slippers and have them delivered the next day by a minimum wage worker who has to pee in a jar because they aren’t allowed pee breaks.
Where was I? Oh, right. A movie review. Anyway, I’d been thinking about getting around to cancelling Amazon Prime because the movies weren’t worth the monthly cost, and sure Prime allowed my fuzzy bunny slippers to be delivered earlier, but I’d rather wait and save the dough. But I’ll admit this movie was pretty good and thus I’ll wait a bit longer to cancel the service.
Chris Pratt stars as an Iraq War veteran turned high school science teacher who dreams of doing something big with his life, but can’t catch a break. He’s married to hottie Betty Gilpin and has a daughter but he dreams of doing great things with science. One wonders, if he dreams so much of being a great science, why he doesn’t go study more science, but it is a movie.
Time travelers from the future arrive to inform us that in 30 years, the world will be overrun by freaking scary ass aliens. A debate ensues as to whether or not present folk should venture forth into the future to assist future people in the fight. Some say yes because these people are our collective kids. Some say no because, you know, the aliens aren’t attacking us now so eff the future people, it’s their problem.
The debate becomes moot when a worldwide draft is handed down, and literally everyone and I mean everyone is drafted. Dark humor ensues at the start of the film when Pratt is drafted and with his soldier training, most lead a rag tag group of civilians against an alien horde. You’ve got people showing up to fight in regular clothes, grandmas struggling just to put their boots on, people who have never handled a gun before, it’s a mess. But that’s how bad the problem is – doesn’t matter if you’re old or incompetent at fighting, if you have a pulse, the govt will stick a gun in your hand and demand you travel to the future to fight aliens.
Amidst this chaos, Pratt meets his daughter, all grown up (Yvonne Strahovski.) They could have played up the father/daughter working together while they are the same age angle more, maybe even for laughs, but they did it very straight here, Pratt’s character mostly following her orders out of respect for her position though occasionally breaking rank at times where, hey, he’s not going to let anything happen to his kid, rules be damned.
Rounding out the cast is JK Simmons as Pratt’s estranged father, who is given a chance to redeem himself in the fight.
Overall, it’s a good movie that somehow survived Amazon’s design a film by committee so as to appeal to everyone and not offend anyone strategy and if theaters were open to full strength, it would have been enjoyable to watch this on the big screen with surround sound. As with many action sci-fi films, a lot of suspension of disbelief is required and there are dumb moments, but hey, it’s got guns and aliens, so it’s worth a watch.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy, but I still haven’t forgiven Amazon for muzzling Eddie.