Director Brad Bird Starring Britt Robertson, George Clooney, Raffey Cassidy, Hugh Laurie, Thomas Robinson, Pierce Gagnon, Keegan-Michael Key, Kathryn Hahn, Tim McGraw
So I had a tough choice this week between two films: Disney’s adventure flick Tomorrowland and the big, dumb action film San Andreas. I weighed up the odds of each film being a winner, an Tomorrowland got the go-ahead. My choice came down to the last second; they’d both received average reviews for various reasons, so I knew no matter what I would either be underwhelmed or pleasantly surprised. That isn’t such a bad conundrum… in most cases…
Tomorrowland tries to follow the story of Frank Walker (Thomas Robinson) as he meets Athena (Raffey Cassidy) and is lead to the futuristic world of Tomorrowland. It then completely restarts by telling the exact same story only with Casey Newton (Britt Robertson). Because of this the film has major pacing issues from the beginning, and though it tries to keep moving forward it never really regains composure.
Casey is given a pin with a ‘T’ on it, which gives her a preview of the amazing Tomorrowland, but unfortunately this is the last time we see this city in all its glory. This wouldn’t be such a big deal except it’s the only reason I went to this film. Trying to learn the origin of the pin Casey stumbles into the worst movie villain known to script: the painted corner. You’d think an intelligent and well-thought turn of events would save this film but no. They just throws Athena in there who then leads Casey to Frank (now played by George Clooney).
By this point I was beyond impatient waiting for them to get to Tomorrowland, the origin of which is never explained and it’s location left completely ambiguous. At one point I actually left my seat to take a walk because I was so restless. Anyway, they eventually get there, the whole world has gone to pot and I realised the stunning visual experience I was hanging out for was never going to happen. I would love to detail the most important part of the film but I was so enthralled with what was occurring I promptly fell asleep.
When I awoke Frank was fighting with David Nix (Hugh Laurie), probably over the control of Tomorrowland of something as equally disinteresting. Casey stands around, wide-eyed and screaming a lot, there’s a mediocre amount of character development and they all live happily ever after.
The script for Tomorrowland is sloppy and all over the place. It starts and stops endlessly and just seems to be generally veering in the right direction. Britt Robertson is coming along nicely as an actress but her character isn’t a strong enough protagonist to carry this film, while George Clooney is a solid performer but limited in terms of range. Raffey Cassidy does a god job with the lot that’s given to her but it can’t cover up Athena being a deus ex machina to help the screenwriters out of trouble.
The marketing seemed to suggest how gratifying this film would be visually but what’s presented is as good as any other CGI-heavy film you’ve seen before, and we don’t get all that much of it. The rest of the film is set in rainy Cape Canaveral and the world of Tomorrowland is only briefly witnessed in all its CGI glory. The film does have one redeeming moment in this regard and that’s the initial one-take tour Casey takes of the city, but it’s a brief sunbeam in an otherwise cloudy Canaveral.
I thought I’d go against the grain and be one of those who went to see Tomorrowland. I knew I was getting into some average cinema but I thought it would have some redeeming qualities. I hate to be so scathing in my assessment but it doesn’t. Being a Disney flick I attempted to change my perspective on the film to better suit the audience (yes, I went to see a children’s film) but I just couldn’t look past the shortcomings. Brad Bird is an amazing director but he really dropped the ball on this one, or more accurately he couldn’t get a handle on it and thus the film bounces aimlessly while Brad chases after it.
It’s not all entirely bad, but what’s worthy of praise isn’t worth mentioning because the negatives far outweigh the positives and they don’t help the film anyway. But one thing I can take away from this experience is I tested the waters and attempted to broaden my scope, and yes it didn’t work out this time but that’s the way it goes sometimes. You have to take the good with the bad…
… God, I should’ve gone to see San Andreas…