You wanted to see Tomorrowland? Well here it comes
If anybody was to look at Disney’s slate of films from 2015 onwards you’d see goliath franchises such as ‘Star Wars‘ and ‘Avengers‘ and anything to do with the MCU. You would also see upcoming sequels to iconic modern Disney/Pixar films such as ‘Finding Dory‘ and the recently rumoured ‘The Incredibles 2‘. Now one of the titles that has sort of voluntarily stayed in the shadows is ‘Tomorrowland‘. Brad Bird (The Incredibles) returns to Disney to direct his second live action feature, with the perennially great George Clooney and up & coming Britt Robertson (The Longest Ride) in the saddle.
Notably this is the first Disney film since ‘Pirates of the Caribbean‘ swash-buckled it’s way to success to be based on/influenced by a theme park land found in some of their holiday resorts. Obviously hoping for the same sort of surprise success that Captain Jack Sparrow provided way back in 2003. The trailers leading up to release have held their cards close to their chest, with little given away about the full story of the film. Unfortunately having seen it, it’s not that they were hiding some big twists or secrets, there was just nothing to actually hide.
The film follows Casey Newton, an optimistic youth who supposedly has potential in things, (we only see her fly a toy helicopter and rewire some stuff). After being arrested and making bail for some vandalism she is in receipt of a mysterious pin badge. This pin badge when touched shows her a utopian world away from the one she is living in, full of advanced technology and futurist looking gadgets. Intrigued she sets out to discover what the pin is, how it works and what everything means. Unbeknownst to Casey, other people are out looking for this pin and the person who put it in her possession. Casey is quickly sucked into a race against time where the future of the world is at stake, and all fingers are pointing to her in stopping it. Aiding Casey in her journey is Frank Walker, an older disenchanted genius who has both seen and been to Tomorrowland, and Athena (Played impeccably well by Raffey Cassidy, and overshadows the rest of the cast), a mysterious young girl who set everything in motion.
Though I sort of enjoyed going through ‘Tomorrowland‘, I was more disappointed when the credits rolled and looked back on the film. The story itself is actually pretty weak and uneven as we bounce between the leads played by Robertson & Clooney, with each character taking turns in being the most relevant character. What I found most annoying and disappointing about the story is that it refuses to acknowledge what is actually at stake and what the cause is until the last 30 minutes of the film. Which for a 130 minute film is pretty ridiculous. Up until the final act all we have been given is an idea of impending doom for the future (which we know from the trailer) and that the way to prevent it is by going to Tomorrowland (which we also know from the trailer). How can you expect to build tension or excitement when you don’t even know what they are trying to do. At least when ‘Inception’ was released, after months of secrecy, the goals and tasks of the cast were explained well before the final act of the film.
The journey to the final act, and Tomorrowland, is a mixed bag. We get sprinkles of action, an assault on Frank Walkers house being the most entertaining (Shame I already saw it as an extended trailer on Mad Max: Fury Road) with the majority of the time spent travelling to different locations in an attempt to get to the futuristic Tomorrowland. Maybe I am being too harsh but for a film labelled Tomorrowland, you sure do spend too much time in present day. A more interesting story that should have been explored here is the progression of this futuristic/parallel world from worlds saviour to dealer of doom.
When we finally arrive at the final act things actually get a little interesting with a touch of social commentary on apocalyptic themes, which are thoroughly genuine and relevant. But when points of ineptitude and lack of action by the human race are brought up, I started having deja vu from the climax of ‘The World’s End‘ by Edgar Wright. Hugh Laurie is given a small chance to showcase his acting a little bit, it’s just unfortunate it’s as he becomes a husk of a pseudo villain you have seen a thousand times before. You know the one, the type that thinks they are doing the right thing to save the world, by destroying it. The reason I use the word husk, is that A. He has no back story whatsoever and B. Technically he’s not really the villain, (I honestly don’t know if you could consider this a spoiler) but pessimism and defeatism are. Yes, you read that correctly. Sure it’s morally relevant in regards to the films themes but it’s no different than M. Night Shyamalan’s finale twist in ‘The Happening‘, and I’m sure we all remember how utterly crucified he was for that.
Again I feel I’m being a little harsh on a film that isn’t actually that bad. The acting is decent and the visuals are ok, but you expect more from the resources of the mouse house. For a film that has ambition and excellence at it’s core, it is distinctly average in it’s performance. The ideology and themes present throughout the film are honest and true at heart, but are half baked in execution. Overall ‘Tomorrowland‘ is a reasonable family film that ticks the boxes for visuals and a bit of fun, but with a generic saving the world plot glossy aesthetics are not enough to mask the mediocrity for anybody older than 13.