Tomorrowland (2015)
Tomorrowland (2015)

Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure Running Time: 2 hrs. 10 min.

Release Date: May 22nd, 2015 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Brad Bird Actors: George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, Tim McGraw, Kathryn Hahn, Keegan-Michael Key, Judy Greer, Thomas Robinson

 


 

“T

his part may get a little weird,” remarks George Clooney’s Frank Walker as his trio of intrepid travelers prepares for satellite teleportation. Ironically, nearly the entirety of “Tomorrowland” is just a little too bizarre, thanks to its curious juxtaposition of clashing genres, tones, and concepts. Magic pins and precocious children intermingle with robotic menaces and subatomic particle technology in a hodgepodge of dubious ideas and worlds that offers endless questions yet vexingly dawdles when providing answers.

Many of the science-fiction notions buried within “Tomorrowland’s” overly polished exterior are fascinating and worthy of exposition. But most fail to develop appropriately in the excessively colorful setting of rebellious youths and lighthearted combat against goofily grinning android assassins. If only the misadventures had been approached with more sincerity and gravity (or, alternatively, a larger abundance of cartoonish shenanigans), the future could have been at least somewhat thrilling.

Traveling to the New York World’s Fair in 1964, young Frank Walker (Thomas Robinson) intends to submit his creation – a nearly functioning jetpack – into an inventor’s competition. Though turned away by stern judge Nix (Hugh Laurie), Frank refuses to give up on his work, inspiring the enigmatic girl Athena (Raffey Cassidy) to invite him to a secret world of futuristic wonder. But after decades of innovation, a mature Frank (George Clooney) finds disillusionment and disappointment replacing his once indomitable ingenuity. When a force from his past introduces him to the unwaveringly optimistic Casey Newton (Britt Robertson), Frank embarks on the adventure of a lifetime to save two worlds from a seemingly inevitable destruction.

The film begins with Walker’s insistence that “the future can be scary.” But the rest of it doesn’t support that statement at all. In fact, “Tomorrowland” is much more of a kids’ movie than viewers might expect – complete with Disney morals and messages (such as the power of hope) and far too much childish enthusiasm. An excessive amount of soppy sentimentality oozes from nearly every interaction and speech.

The first several minutes resemble a juvenile television special from the ‘60s, riddled with exaggerated expressions, overly enunciated conversations, and a phony sense of wonderment from a small boy’s perspective. It even uses highly recognizable Disneyland rides, as if the production is an advertisement for a product instead of a movie. And indeed, viewing “Tomorrowland” feels a bit like watching strangers climb aboard a series of Disneyland attractions, one right after the other, having quite a bit of fun without sharing that enjoyment with the audience.

This ties into the utter lack of cohesion in the storyline. Uninspired narrative mess aside, the plot continues to scurry down the proverbial rabbit hole with greater and greater sci-fi strangeness – without an end in sight. It takes nearly 105 minutes before any explanations are given, which is so far in that no one will care about the characters or their plights after such a lengthy period of random confrontations and ventures. Walker even exclaims somewhere near that point: “Do I have to explain everything? Can’t you just be amazed and move on?” But being indiscriminately assaulted with nonsensical visuals, time travel theories, tachyonic fusion, interdimensionary traversing, self-fulfilling prophecies, and extremely advanced artificial intelligence (with empathy interfaces!) demands just a bit of detail reconciliation from time to time. It’s as if director Brad Bird gathered together all the ideas that Philip K. Dick, H.G. Wells, and Jules Verne thought were unfilmable – and then used them as a basis for his screenplay.

– The Massie Twins

  • 3/10