What to watch | Chris Pratt battles aliens, an Orson Welles doccie and Jude Law’s domestic drama

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Freedom fighters (from left): Edwin Hodge, Yvonne Strahovski, Chris Pratt and Sam Richardson must save Earth in The Tomorrow War. (PHOTO: Amazon Studios)
Freedom fighters (from left): Edwin Hodge, Yvonne Strahovski, Chris Pratt and Sam Richardson must save Earth in The Tomorrow War. (PHOTO: Amazon Studios)

The Tomorrow War *** 1/2

Sci-fi action. With Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski and JK Simmons. Director: Chris McKay.

The 2022 Fifa World Cup ­final is rudely interrupted by the arrival of soldiers from the year 2051 and, like all time-travelling soldiers, they have bad news. 

In a few years’ time the planet will be overrun by ­vicious, nearly unstoppable alien creatures, intent on consuming everyone and every­thing on the planet. Humanity is on the brink of extinction and the future soldiers are here to enlist fresh bodies for the future war, a plan the governments of Earth are surprisingly quick to agree to.

Dan (Pratt), a soldier-turned-schoolteacher and dad, is among those drafted for a one-week tour of duty from which most grunts don’t return – and those who do survive wish they were dead.

After several hair-raising future shocks – the soldiers’ arrival in future Las Vegas is one of the more memorably horrifying sequences in a movie that relies heavily on tropes and ideas from dozens of other movies – Dan meets Colonel Forester (Strahovski from The Handmaid’s Tale), one of Earth’s last surviving military leaders and a scientist close to developing a biological weapon to destroy the aliens.

As a Marvel movie veteran, Pratt is in familiar sci-fi action territory and despite the derivative plot and “twists”, this is a thoroughly entertaining movie – perhaps because it ticks the expected boxes, and does so with gusto and an unexpected dash of style.

– DENNIS CAVERNELIS

2021. 138 MIN. 16SVL. AVAILABLE ON AMAZON PRIME VIDEO. 

They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead ***

Orson Welles
Footage of director Orson Welles trying to get funding for what would be his last film in the documentary They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead. (PHOTO: Netflix)

Documentary. Legendary actor and director Orson Welles’ name is synonymous with genius and failure. He cemented his status as a Hollywood great with his debut film, ­Citizen Kane (1941), but his creativity and experimentation were often at odds with film-studio bosses, who weren’t willing to give him full creative control and free rein to go over budget or schedule. Subsequently many of his films were heavily re-edited and in his later years he struggled to find financing for his projects.

This fascinating doccie, narrated by actor Alan Cumming (sounding a bit stilted as he seemingly tries to tone down his Scottish accent), looks at the torturous process behind the release of The Other Side of the Wind, Welles’ final film which remained unfinished when he died in 1985. It was eventually released thanks to devotees such as Indiana Jones producer Frank Marshall, who had one of his first jobs working on the film, and The Last Picture Show director Peter Bogdanovich, Welles’ protégé with whom he had a troubled relationship as Bogdanovich started to eclipse Welles. 

It’s impressive how filmmaker Morgan Neville cuts ­together shots from films, archive footage of Welles talking about his craft and schmoozing investors, and interviews with role players to make the chaotic events clear to viewers. 

What’s frustrating is his decision not to identify many of the interviewees with onscreen text – you know who they are only if you turn on the subtitles. 

Like Welles’ movies, the doccie rambles on too long and seems to lose focus towards the end. But for movie buffs it offers insight into an influential, contradictory figure. 

Unfortunately, to fully appre­ciate this doccie, it helps to have watched The Other Side of the Wind (also on Netflix), which is quite an endurance test. 

2018. 98 MIN. 16SL. AVAILABLE ON NETFLIX. 

The Nest ***

­Carrie Coon, Jude Law, The Nest
­Carrie Coon and Jude Law in The Nest. (PHOTO: Showmax)

Drama. A mother and daughter are unexpectedly ripped from their happy life in America to follow the man of the house as he chases his dreams to England. 

Rory O’Hara (a pouting Jude Law) has big opportunities in London. ­Carrie Coon (The Leftovers) is magnificent as his wife, Allison, who spirals out of control due to her obsession with her racehorse. Will they survive their new life on the estate in Surrey with the manor house where the music group Led Zeppelin once stayed while recording an album? 

It’s the perfect setting to watch the family unravel. 

The daughter, Sam (Oona Roche), is just a shadow figure strung along by her parents’ toxic marriage. 

As with their black racehorse, Rory can’t wait to show off his family in the high-society circles he desperately wants to be part of. 

The jazzy soundtrack works well to set the mood of this brooding family drama, set in the Reagan era when money was the root of all evil. 

This film by director Sean Durkin (Martha Marcy May Marlene) might feel empty, shallow and unscripted, but that might be exactly the point. 

– PIETER VAN ZYL

2020. 102 MIN. 16VLNSD. AVAILABLE ON SHOWMAX. 

A: All ages   D: Drugs   H: Horror   L: Language   N: Nudity   P: Prejudice   PG: Parental guidance S: Sex  V: Violence




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