Tomorrowland is a movie that attempts to give us a glimpse into our world’s potential future. My initial problem with the film is that it doesn’t look like a future I would want to live in at all. Everything looks fast, hectic, and confusing. I guess it’s a matter of personal preference, but the vision of the future that Tomorrowland provides does not appeal to me. I think that fact inhibited my enjoyment of the film quite a bit.
This movie focuses on two main characters. Frank Walker (George Clooney) is a grumpy old man who has been to Tomorrowland. Due to events that occurred there, he has become very disillusioned by the experience. On the other hand, Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) is an adventurous young girl who has had only a glimpse of Tomorrowland and wants to go there more than anything. With the help of the mysterious Athena (Raffey Cassidy), Casey seeks out Frank in an attempt to fulfill her ambition and wild imagination.
This story is ambitious but has some pretty serious flaws that hamper its progress. The biggest problem I had with the narrative is that I couldn’t get a grip on where it was going. I didn’t understand any of the characters motivations and I didn’t really think that they did either. They didn’t seem to have any long term goals. The story unfolds like a story a kid is telling, making up the details as they go. Halfway through the film I had completely lost interest because I didn’t understand what anybody was trying to accomplish. The character of Frank, I really liked. I did not like the character of Casey, which is the main protagonist. That is a problem. She is one of those characters that knows everything, can do anything, and never makes any mistakes. The general rules of physics and society do not apply to her. That is lazy writing, allowing a character to ignore realistic limitations in order to do whatever they need to do to move the narrative forward. I was very disappointed in the villain, played by Hugh Laurie. He isn’t in the movie much until late, and when he shows up, he is generic and stiff.
What really works in the movie to me is the kookiness and craziness of some of the characters and situations. The film definitely had a bit of an identity crises, going back and forth too much between the serious and the surreal. I feel like the latter is where it should have stayed for the most part.
The acting in this film is good and is mostly what makes the whole thing watchable. This is a different type of role for George Clooney and he didn’t give the phoned in performance that I was expecting. The star of this show is Britt Robertson. I liked her performance a lot, even though she was playing a character I pretty much hated. The movie also has a rare good child performance by Raffey Cassidy.
As expected, this movie is filled to the brim with unnecessary and overblown CGI. What it lacks in substance, it tries to make up for with effects. This never works. Special effects are like a paint job on a car or decorations on a Christmas tree. They can enhance the substance, but they cannot be the substance.
There was a story to be told here with a decent message to it. Unfortunately, the way this was written comes off as pretentious and elitist. I feel like the filmmakers are telling us that only the people on their level deserve to live and the rest of the humanoids are just bogging them down. In the middle of all this, there is a monologue that Hugh Laurie delivers toward the end that is brilliant and meaningful. The problem is that by this point, I just didn’t care anymore. Tomorrowland is watchable, but nowhere near what it should have been. The Movie Man gives it 2.5 out of 5 stars.
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