Brad Bird is certainly a fun storyteller filled with ideas about science fiction that’s a welcome break from the normal grim and grit of the modern era, I just wish “Tomorrowland” were a masterpiece. If not, I wish it were more than mediocre. As it is there’s a great movie somewhere in the script, there’s just too much narrative and disjointed writing to really see it rise to the surface and hit a home run. “Tomorrowland” is one of the more entertaining messes of the year. It’s a film that doesn’t introduce its heroine until thirty minutes in to the movie, and completely cuts her out of the equation in the finale. “Tomorrowland” is not a bad movie by any means, it’s just the writing is so scatterbrain and haphazard, I couldn’t really appreciate the whole shebang, in the end; which is sad, because I certainly wanted to love “Tomorrowland.”
I thought in many instances it was quite entertaining, and I loved how much Bird loves retro-science fiction by making use of laser guns, photon rays, robots, space ships, rocket packs and the like. There is a wonderful action scene mid-way in which heroine Casey Newton finds herself in a nostalgia shop anxiously trying to figure out the origin of the Tomorrowland pin as given to her by the enigmatic Athena. It turns out the two shop owners are robots and try to murder her with giant ray guns only to be interrupted and beaten by young Athena. The scene is so tightly edited, and well filmed, I actually found myself quite tense. It is especially interesting considering the movie is entirely based around George Clooney so I was convinced Casey would die almost immediately. Casey Newton as played Britt Robertson is the main character, which is sadly not apparent by the ads because Clooney gets more screen time, and top billing.
That is a shame, since Britt Robertson’s performance is rather fantastic. As heroine Casey, she’s spunky, clever, heroic, and incredibly selfless, not to mention she knows how to roll with the punches when introduced to mind blowing technology like a rocket ship hiding in the Eiffel Tower. The movie is just more involved with George Clooney’s character Frank and never seems to decide who the main character is. The narrative begins with Frank as a child learning about Tomorrowland and being introduced to the scientific futuristic city, and yet we follow Casey around for most of the film, only to veer right back in to Frank’s plight once more. By the finale it’s made clear who the writers wanted to follow all along, and does a disservice to the audience who invested time in rooting for Casey.
Through its faults, “Tomorrowland” manages to be an entertaining adventure about the search for Tomorrowland and the quest to save the world. There are a ton of neat concepts introduced, as well as some entertaining battle scenes. It’s just lost in such a sloppily stitched together premise, not to mention a central message about the future that feels preachy and sanctimonious. While Bird and Lindelof make solid points about mankind’s somewhat pessimistic view of the future, I don’t agree that we’ve somewhat accepted it as an inevitability and embraced it. There are many modern tales about the apocalypse that speak about hope and optimism, as well as the endurance of the human race. “Tomorrowland” is a solid film with unclear intentions and an apparent lack of a primary protagonist. It’s disheartening considering a lot of the pieces introduced from the beginning could have really fit in to each other to create a fantastic fantasy film.