‘The Tomorrow War’ is Chris Pratt’s latest film shot in Atlanta

Chris Pratt and Yvonne Strahovski shot part of "Tomorrow War" in metro Atlanta. AMAZON STUDIOS
Caption
Chris Pratt and Yvonne Strahovski shot part of "Tomorrow War" in metro Atlanta. AMAZON STUDIOS

Credit: AMAZON S

Credit: AMAZON S

The action thriller features nasty aliens, J.K. Simmons and a time machine.

Chris Pratt has taken a break from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to play another heroic character ready to save humanity from imminent destruction.

This time he’s Dan Forester, a former Delta Force Operator and frustrated teacher who jumps three decades into the future to battle aliens in “The Tomorrow War,” out on Amazon Prime Friday.

The high-budget action film ― shot largely in Georgia with headquarters out of Blackhall Studios ― was originally scheduled to come out in movie theaters Christmas Day of 2020. But the pandemic changed the film’s course and just like “Coming 2 America,” Paramount sold it to Amazon instead.

Pratt has proven a draw in films like “Guardians of the Galaxy” (also shot in Atlanta) and “Jurassic World.” The primary challenge here is the fact that “The Tomorrow War’ is an original idea not attached to any existing brand name.

Chris McKay, the director who previously has worked on “Robot Chicken” and “The Lego Movie,” believes “The Tomorrow War” has plenty of sequel potential if it does well on Amazon.

“The Tomorrow War” starts in present day, but the world in 2020 finds out that in 2051 aliens are devouring mankind. Fortunately, scientists develop a time-travel portal that enables them to draft people from the past to provide manpower to try to take down this seemingly superior life force.

When McKay read the script for “The Tomorrow War,” which was originally called “Ghost Draft,” he enjoyed the underlying message as well as the action. “There was this great scope and scale to this movie but also a family story about generations, a story about what we leave behind and what is our responsibility to our future generations,” he said.

And he felt Pratt was the right anchor for such a movie: “He can play in different worlds. You can buy him in the ‘Jurassic Park’ movies as well as movies like ‘Her’ and ‘Zero Dark Thirty.’ He can create moments of honesty and vulnerability that audiences can relate to.”

Pratt’s character is surrounded by far less prepared drafted solders who provide comic relief amid the mayhem.

“A movie like this could easily get too self-serious,” McKay said. “Chris in the lead role was saddled with issues and couldn’t be the comedy generator guy. We needed other characters to provide levity.”

Actors such as Sam Richardson (“Veep”) and Mary Lynn Rajskub (Chloe in “24″) support Pratt’s character with the choice wisecrack. And J.K. Simmons (”Law and Order,” “The Closer”) plays Dan’s estranged dad with sardonic wit.

Betty Gilpin, Chris Pratt and Ryan Kiera Armstrong in "The Tomorrow War," largely shot in Georgia and Iceland and to be released July 2 on Amazon Prime. AMAZON PRIME.
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Betty Gilpin, Chris Pratt and Ryan Kiera Armstrong in "The Tomorrow War," largely shot in Georgia and Iceland and to be released July 2 on Amazon Prime. AMAZON PRIME.

Credit: Frank Masi

Credit: Frank Masi

Dan, of course, has a loving family to provide him an emotional ballast, including his supportive wife played by Betty Gilpin of “GLOW” fame. While her character is very much a trope in these types of films, Gilpin does as much as she can with modest screen time.

“Our relationship feels so real in a genre that doesn’t always feel terribly real,” Gilpin said. “If you buy into the stakes of what they’re feeling and that they’re real people, you’re more likely to buy into the stuff that feels more outlandish.”

And while Gilpin’s lead role on “GLOW” involved non-stop wrestling action, she doesn’t have to throw a punch or kick anybody this go around. “I’ve done a lot of stunts,” she said. “The fact everybody else had to sprain their ankles and bruise their knees, I was very happy. I didn’t run once.”

On the horror side, the aliens, called “white spikes,” look appropriately hideous. “These things were ancient,” McKay said. “They needed to feel old. I wanted lots of pockmarks and flakes and chunks. I wanted them to feel hungry and insatiable. Their teeth feel like a dental nightmare. They have these long, tough claws. I wanted them to have a feral intelligence.”

Yvonne Strahovski (”The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Chuck”) appears midway through the film as a military commander and scientist in the future, desperately trying to figure out a way to take down the aliens.

“She has the weight of the world on her shoulders,” Strahovski said. “She’s also having to balance her own personal journey that reveals itself as the movie goes on. Those two worlds end up colliding.”

McKay was familiar with Strahovski’s work, noting how impactful she was in her short scenes in the last “Predator” movie. “She’s always so watchable,” he said. “When she auditioned, I was just blown away. She operates on so many levels. She can bring cheekiness. She can bring emotion. She has so many ideas. She’s game to do anything. She can get in a helicopter, get in a rig and jump 60 feet.”

Keith Power (left) and Yvonne Strahovski in "The Tomorrow War." AMAZON STUDIOS
Caption
Keith Power (left) and Yvonne Strahovski in "The Tomorrow War." AMAZON STUDIOS

Credit: Frank Masi

Credit: Frank Masi

The film was shot largely in Georgia, mostly in metro Atlanta, in 2019 into early 2020. A key beach scene used Jekyll Island. A Georgia Power plant became an oil rig. And Buckhead and downtown Atlanta, with artful CGI, became Miami.

“Atlanta gave us a lot of scope and scale,” McKay said. “There are so many different looks we were able to create there.”

ON TV

“The Tomorrow War,” available Friday, July 2 on Amazon Prime

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