Director: Brad Bird
Starring: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, Hugh Laurie, Tim McGraw, Kathryn Hahn, Keegan-Michael Key, Judy Greer
Rated: PG (sequences of sci-fi action violence and peril, thematic elements, and language)
Bound by a shared destiny, a teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor embark on a mission to unearth the secrets of a place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory.
By Matt Greene
Brad Bird is a filmmaker with an astounding track record. All four of his previous films (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) were big, emotional successes that would rival Spielberg in his heyday as far as quality in sincerity and scale go. Tomorrowland, a love letter to science fiction and the imagination of Walt Disney, hopes to continue this trend. A celebration of nerds, ingenuity, and spunk, it’s a rare sort of original magic in today’s franchise-driven world. It’s a spirited, family-friendly adventure with an old-fashioned heart….so why isn’t it better than just “okay”?
The setup, a refreshingly unique structure for kid’s fare, certainly isn’t the problem: a non-linear science fiction film about geniuses and parallel universes, told with humor and plot surprises around every corner. The visual aesthetic is strong and fun, with some especially imaginative action sequences. The self-aware humor nicely compliments the film’s earnestness without insecurely overpowering it. Robertson as our young protagonist is relatable and engaging. Even the convoluted nature of the plot is handled with skill, until the end when everything gets a bit preachy and muddy.
That’s where Tomorrowland truly falters. The tonal issues and mass amounts of clunky exposition were easy to overlook early on since there was such fun to be had around those small squabbles. However, the final act of the film all but completely falls apart, as if Bird only had 3/4s of a movie idea before filming. Still, the wide-eyed optimism, unabashed sincerity, and nostalgic humor provide for a mostly entertaining blast in this sci-fi family comedy.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
By Cole Schneider
There’s a great movie somewhere within “Tomorrowland”, but instead I had to watch the whole thing. The film is based on a section of Disney’s Magic Kingdom theme park, which is a much better starting point for the marketing department than for those directly tied to making the film. Director Brad Bird’s four previous films are each brilliant (“The Iron Giant”, “The Incredibles”, “Ratatouille”‘ “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”) so I suppose he was due for a clunker, but “Tomorrowland” isn’t without intrigue.
He opens the film with an interesting fusion of form and function, drawing us in the same way that theme park rides normally do, with expository monologues twisted with humor and mystery. It takes a while for the film to find its footing but the journey to the beginning is fun nonetheless. Once the plot gets rolling, things the sense of adventure really gets amped up. It becomes sillier and more straightforward. This middle section of the film is its strongest.
The final third, however, is somewhat disastrous. As the film reaches for emotional resonance and intellectual ambition, it loses its sense of silly identity and the trade-off pushes the film into dull territory. Overall, it’s not a disaster, but it’s certainly nothing special, clearly Bird’s least effort-to-date.
There are great scenes and imaginative set-pieces held together by a compelling lead (Britt Robertson who creates a great female character for girls to watch), but the final script tries to fabricate more than the best version of the script can handle and the audience is left feeling more meh than wow.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars