a critiQal film review Tomorrowland (2015)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: Bound by a shared destiny, a bright, optimistic teen bursting with scientific curiosity (Robertson) and a former boy-genius inventor jaded by disillusionment (Clooney) embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory as “Tomorrowland.”

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When trying to figure out which new movie to review, there were so many to choose from. Jurassic World (2015). Terminator: Genisys (2015). Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015). But, one film which had piqued my interest popped up, and I had my movie: Tomorrowland.

Films based on Disney attractions have actually managed to be a lot better than one might first expect (The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)). So, Tomorrowland had that going for it. With director Brad Bird (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011), The Incredibles (2004)) at the helm, I figured there was no way this film would be a waste of time. Was I right? Or had Brad fumbled the ball with Tomorrowland?

While George Clooney is prominent in the credits, the film originally centers around two young girls. Britt Robertson, as the dreamy-eyed optimist, does an excellent job of both portraying a innocent dreamer, and pulling the viewers into the film. It’s a remarkably different role than her character in Under the Dome (TV), and is a breath of fresh air for viewers. Her awe is contagious, and viewers will easily find themselves caught up in her childlike wonder.

The other main character is Athena, played by Raffey Cassidy. At first, viewers see her as nothing but another young girl. As the story progresses, however, Raffey really manages to make the role her own. By the end, she has endeared herself somewhat to the viewers with her better-than-expected performance.

After seeing him as child (which starts the movie off well), viewers don’t see much of Frank Walker until later in the film, and George Clooney steps in. While he’s decent enough, he doesn’t seem to be as into portraying this character as he’s managed to do with his other films (except maybe Batman & Robin (1997)). Maybe it’s the odd situation of pairing him with two young girls for the majority of his role. Whatever the reason, he looks like he’s more comfortable when he’s in the middle of the fight sequences. Since he’s supposed to be portraying a disenfranchised, bitter man, that actually works for him in Tomorrowland – to an extent.

Hugh Laurie, of “House, M.D.” (TV) fame, isn’t too shabby either. Unfortunately, his character, as the “villain”, has to spout the typical speech explaining why he’s done what he has. It’s silly, and Laurie seems a bit under-utilized throughout. Still, he does the best with what he’s got.

After pumping up the action for Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011), and dishing out the humor in The Incredibles (2004), Brad Bird doesn’t quite give Tomorrowland his all. He does a decent job of keeping the viewers entertained, and there are fun moments in the film, but it pales next to both of those other films. Both of those movies brought things to a whole new level. Tomorrowland, on the other hand, feels a bit too kid-friendly for it’s own good.

That’s partially due to the ending of the film. While viewers are expecting great things from young Casey – as the other characters have been hyping her ability to affect things throughout – the end result is a bit of a let down. A quick decision and suddenly the problem is neatly solved. A little too neatly, in fact. It makes the people who have given up on finding a solution (Clooney’s Frank included) look like morons, since the answer is so obvious. A little more showcasing what Casey could do. And, a little less relying on the silly story her dad has been telling her for years – which viewers are introduced to right from their first introduction to her. With those two fixes, the film could have turned out much better.

Still, the gadgetry is fun, and Tomorrowland presents an interesting concept. A future world, easily visited, where wonders abound. Director Brad Bird does a great job of preserving that childlike wonder and presenting it to the viewers, who will find it contagious. Unfortunately, a too simple solution wraps things up a little too easily, ruining a lot of the ending of the film. Viewers will walk away having enjoyed three quarters of the film, and then had the last quarter disappoint them with it’s simplicity. Unfortunatelty, that ending diffuses some of the enjoyment built up from the rest of the film.

A bit too kid-friendly overall, and it’s easy answer almost makes the trip seem like it wasn’t worth it. But, with a sense of awe that’s palpatable thanks to some surprisingly good performances from it’s young stars, Tomorrowland should keep viewers happy enough for a viewing or two, even with it’s flaws.

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