By Mark Saldana
Rating: 2.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
From screenwriter Damon Lindelof (Lost, Prometheus) and director Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) comes this live action, science fiction mess of a movie that has a mixture of impressive and not-so-impressive visuals, a bloated story/plot, and a lot of heart and good intentions. As I sat during the screening, enjoying the positive aspects, but feeling baffled by the negative ones, I couldn’t help, but think of an ambitious and well-intended Steven Spielberg mess from 1991–a movie titled Hook. Like Hook, Tomorrowland’s heart cannot quite save the movie from the other problems it has. I’m quite certain that Disney spent a pretty penny to make this mostly pretty-looking movie, but unfortunately, I cannot encourage my readers to spend top dollar to see it.
An intelligent teenager in Florida named Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) and a former child genius named Frank Walker (George Clooney) cross paths (and hairs) when Casey receives messages from a mysterious, but technologically advanced origin. Frank most reluctantly takes Casey to the source of the messages, but her bright-eyed optimism is disturbed to discover the reasons behind the messages. Casey and Frank must quickly put their heads together to thwart an imminent threat to Earth before it is too late.
Much like Spielberg’s Hook before it, this film has a tremendous amount of heart; however, Lindelof’s screenplay is so poorly structured and inflated that it doesn’t flow very smoothly. The film definitely has its lovely peaks and crescendos, and for the most part, is a visual feast. It simply needs a complete restructuring and could have possibly been split into two movies with better development of the plots and back-stories.
So much time is spent on exposition and giving the audience the whole story with flashes back and forth in time that the story has little time or momentum to move forward. When it finally gets to the not-so-big reveal, it really is hard to care about what happens. This movie, which is supposed to be about humanity striving to be proactive and not apathetic, fails in its attempts to get its message across (much like certain characters in the movie). It feels like Lindelof, Bird, and perhaps Disney tried to accomplish too much in the film. By not making the right developmental choices, the movie covers little ground.
The special effects, technical crew, and designers responsible for the look of the film do deserve praise for their part in making a gorgeous looking world. Most of the CGI effects look impressive, but there are some exceptions. The sound design and sound editing really adds to razzle-dazzle of the visuals. With as much green screen work which I’m sure this film entailed, I have to say that most of the cast members deliver solid performances and attempt to flesh out the heart of the script.
Clooney delivers a strong turn as the annoyed curmudgeon that is Frank Walker. His jaded and flustered portrayal of this character actually adds to the comedy of the movie. The lovely and talented Britt Robertson shines here as the wide-eyed and imaginative Casey Newton, a character who almost succeeds in making me care about the fate of the heroes. The real standout of the movie, though, is an amazing and talented young actress named Raffey Cassidy who portrays Athena. Athena is the one character from the world of Tomorrowland who can inspire Frank and Casey to work together and do what is necessary. Cassidy perfectly and superbly portrays this actually fun and exciting character.
Unfortunately, though, aside from the acting and the technological marvels that the film does have, it ultimately does not offer a completely fun and exciting time at the cinema. To be fair, the movie does have much humor, but most of the jokes seem aimed at younger audiences. The visuals and jokes should keep the kids entertained, but I can definitely see the adults making trips to the restroom or concessions stand to kill some time. Tomorrowland truly is a disappointment as Disney, Lindelof, and Bird have delivered impressive work in the past. I’m sure Disney will probably make some descent money at the box office; therefore, I don’t see any reason to help boost those revenues.