Tomorrowland (2015)

TomorrowlandArrested for repeatedly sabotaging demolition machinery at a decommissioned NASA facility, frustrated science student Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) is bailed out by her father only to discover a mysterious pin among her confiscated belongings. Identifying the logo using eBay, she travels to a science-fiction store listed as being interested in acquiring the item. There, after a fight with its incognito robot employees, she encounters Athena (Raffey Cassidy), a little girl who identifies herself as the gift-giver and instructs Casey on how to get to Tomorrowland, the futuristic city she glimpses whenever she touches the badge. With the help of disillusioned and disavowed inventor Frank Walker (George Clooney), Casey sets off for Paris where a chartered rocket awaits them beneath the Eiffel Tower.

Tomorrowland? Tomorrowland: A World Beyond? It’s John Carter (of Mars) all over again, only without the media coverage that a $300 million flop tends to generate. There have been a few defences and deconstructions since its understated release, but for the most part Brad Bird’s follow-up to the similarly underwhelming Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is already yesterday’s news. Where did it all go wrong for the director of The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille — almost all animated classics that are still adored and adulated today? Could it simply be that his talents are not as well suited to the live-action medium? The issues with his Mission: Impossible movie were manifold, but with Tomorrowland the main problem is obvious: Damon Lindelof’s fingerprints are all over it.

The Lost showrunner turned franchise killer has a habit of overcomplicating his various projects to the point that even the most open-minded or easily-pleased viewer ceases to care about whatever’s transpiring onscreen. JJ Abram’s built up a lot of goodwill with his reboot of the Star Trek franchise, while Ridley Scott’s return to the Alien series was met with almost unanimous excitement, and yet both Star Trek Into Darkness and Prometheus were ultimately undermined by Lindelof’s convoluted plots, calculated misdirections and iconoclastic whims. While his blatant disregard for established canon was always going to be less of an issue in a stand-alone movie, particularly one based on a theme-park attraction, he still manages to compromise the inane, nonsensical third act. It’s like watching the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy — Disneyland’s other big screen adaptation — in miniature: what starts out as innocent fun eventually becomes tediously serious.

Tomorrowland has other issues, too; not least its stilted and undramatic editing. The film opens with Frank Walker and (a bafflingly out of shot) Casey Newton mid-pickle, initially upending an audience expecting Robertson to take centre stage and immediate robbing the film’s entire first act of any interest whatsoever. Rather then race straight into the story — an already pretty insipid yarn about a girl who finds a badge — the film stalls on the starting line and never really recovers. It’s a shame, because for all its faults Tomorrowland isn’t without the odd point of interest. The performances are entertaining, if a little exaggerated; the effects are impressive, especially with regards to a gravity-defying swimming pool; and there are a couple of decent laughs to be had along the way, not least when a pair of robots-in-disguise collectors attack Casey with Star Wars memorabilia, to the tune of Ben Burtt’s iconic sound effects. Even the cynics — seeing Disney’s attempts for cross-promotion for what they are — will struggle not to at least smile.

Unfortunately, the occasional ceded smirk is not enough to support an entire movie, especially one selling itself as fun for all the family. For a film so expressly, relentlessly, unambiguously optimistic, Tomorrowland is incredibly uninspiring.

2-stars

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

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