Sometimes I’m too lazy for a full-out piece. Sometimes everything I’ve got to say about a film can be summarized in a sentence or two. Sometimes it’s both. So herewith, a quick-n-dirty on Tomorrowland!
Nutshell: Tomorrowland is an interesting film. But not an engaging one. With actors like Clooney and Laurie, and the whole of the Mouse House behind it, I expected more than a bland, yet morally heavyhanded, story. Grade: C
Before: I’m not sure about this film. The trailer looks beautiful, but it’s Disney; of course it’s gonna be gorgeous. However, the story looks like it’s nothing more than “touch a pin, see George Clooney.” Though I’m sure there are a lot of gals who’d love that, I’ma need more. But that’s me I guess; ticked off if I don’t get enough about the film from a trailer, ticked off if they show to much. I’m an enigma wrapped in disgruntlement. Sprinkled with stardust and licorice.
During: Am I supposed to be this disinterested? C’mon Brad Bird; you wrote The Incredibles! I loved The Incredibles! Maybe it’s Damon Lindelof? I could never get invested in Lost, and it’s looking as though I’m not investing here either. I do like Britt “No, I’m Not Jennifer Lawrence” Robertson as tech-savvy Casey. That the lead is a science-savvy gal gives me the feels. Clooney as Frank “get off my lawn!” Walker is a hoot, though they could have given him more to do than glower and ponder. And any time Hugh Laurie is in anything, I’m game. However, his Nix, the leader of Tomorrowland, is barely fleshed out beyond the basics, and I’m ticked at the missed opportunities. BTW; am I the only one who thinks that Raffey Cassidy (as Athena, the girl that opens the doorway to Tomorrowland for Casey and Frank) looks like an adorable female Eddie Redmayne? Spoiler: she nails the part of an android, even with those cute freckles.
After: It’s official; Tomorrowland is shiny, but no substance. Dammit. DisneyWorld has has Tomorrowland for decades, and this lackluster film is all they could drum up, story-wise? Perhaps they should have come up with a contest for best story, along with their (very cool) film tie-in contest. Couldn’t have hurt. Stripped of its CGI, this film is simply a “run run run, save the world” film that feels hollow. The actors try their best to connect with the audience and deliver decent performances with what they’re given to work with. But Bird in his director’s seat seems more interested in the mechanics of the film than the motivations behind the characters. Any character development feels like window dressing ’til the next big marvel. So instead of sinking in, I let it wash over me, leaving the theater with no lingering aftertaste beyond popcorn overkill.
I’m also deeply disappointed in the heavy-handedness with the theme. Global warming, pandemics and other horrors definitely need to be addressed. But I’m all in with that, and this choir member doesn’t need sledgehammer preaching. I have a feeling that the folks who do need to hear that message will avoid Tomorrowland and/or it’s message because “liberal media hooey”. And this one time, I can’t fault them for it. A finer touch, more of the glorious wonder the trailer promised, and a story that tugged at heartstrings rather than checking off cliches like an undergrad RTVF to-do list, would have done wonders for this film. But Tomorrowland feels like a bait-n-switch that simultaneously panders to its audience while withholding the fantasy that drew them to the multiplex in the first place.