UK Release Date: 22nd May 2015
Runtime: 130 minutes
Director: Brad Bird
Writer: Damon Lindelof, Brad Bird
Starring: Britt Robertson, George Clooney, Raffey Cassidy, Hugh Laurie, Tim McGraw, Kathryn Hahn
Synopsis: When she receives a strange pin seemingly at random, a young girl becomes aware of an idealistic, magical world beyond her own.
For years, Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland was one of the most secretive project in all of cinema, with very little known about its plot or story direction. The film is finally out in the open, starring George Clooney as a curmudgeonly man who had his idealism stamped out over time.
Casey (Britt Robertson) is arrested after sabotaging the dismantling of a NASA launch in Cape Canaveral. Amongst her possessions, she finds a strange pin that shows her a futuristic landscape. This leads her to a small girl named Athena (Raffey Cassidy) and curmudgeonly old inventor Frank (Clooney) who, between them, might have the answer to Casey’s questions.
Brad Bird and writer Damon Lindelof certainly cannot be faulted for the ambition they have shown with Tomorrowland. It’s a film that comments on how our own desire to characterise the fictional future as a dystopian wasteland is a self-fulfilling prophecy that will doom us all with negativity. The concept is interesting, but the film struggles to get that message across without delivering long, preachy slabs of exposition.
| “In every moment there’s a possibility of a better future, but you people won’t believe it.”
For all of its talking, Tomorrowland is at its best when it’s doing action. There’s nothing particularly edgy about the film’s action set piece, but they feel inventive and move at a fast pace that the rest of the film does its best to slow down. There’s a real energy to these moments that the film cannot otherwise replicate, as hard as it tries.
On the performance side, George Clooney is all out of ideas in terms of portraying Frank. The overly curmudgeonly performance becomes tiresome quickly, which really undercuts the emotional link his character is supposed to have with Raffey Cassidy, who is otherwise the film’s star. Britt Robertson is fun, but miscast and struggling with the failings of the material. Similarly ill-served by Lindelof’s script is Hugh Laurie, who appears at the start of the third act to shovel exposition without any sort of personality.
As much as Tomorrowland deserves praise for its central conceit and shoot-for-the-skies ambition, it doesn’t hold together as a feature film. Aside from the action scenes, there’s little in the way of dramatic forward momentum. On top of that, the script is full of sag and is desperately in need of tightening. At times, it feels like a first draft.
| “Dreamers need to stick together. It’s not programming; it’s personal.”
Too complex to work as a family film, but too simplistic for the adult market, Tomorrowland is a film that has plenty of ideas, but no idea how to use them. The most frustrating thing is that the film is eminently forgettable. After years of build up, it’s a film that you stop thinking about the moment the lights come back on in the cinema.
Pop or Poop?
Given the level of pre-release excitement around Tomorrowland, the eventual film was always going to be something of a disappointment.
The poorly-written script makes a hash of the film’s interesting central ideas and the performers are given very little to work with. Tomorrowland is an exercise in squandered potential.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.