Thursday, May 28, 2015

Movie Review #263: "Tomorrowland" (2015)

Ticket Price: $9.75
Director: Brad Bird
Rating: PG
Running Time 2 hours, 10 minutes
Image Source
As a young boy, Frank Walker (Thomas Robinson) had hope and a vision for the future. This leads him to be invited to Tomorrowland, a place where all great minds go to build a better world and to develop new discoveries, by a girl named Athena (Raffey Cassidy). What he eventually wound up discovering was a machine that could predict the imminent destruction of mankind, and this leads to Frank's banishment from Tomorrowland by Nix (Hugh Laurie). Many years later, Athena discovers a brilliant teenage girl who also has hope for the future named Casey Newton (Britt Robertson). Athena believes Casey is the key to saving mankind, but she will need the help of a much older and much more pessimistic Frank Walker (George Clooney) to do it. 

"Tomorrowland" is another attempt on the part of Disney to turn part of their theme park into a film. This can be blamed on the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise, and as if films 1-4 weren't enough, movie #5 is on its way, although no one really asked for it to come to fruition. There are other movies based on Disney theme parks such as "The Haunted Mansion," which was a relative failure and was a one and done movie, and now, we have "Tomorrowland." This film is different from the other park-based films in that, much like Pixar's "Wall-E," it has a clear, persistent message it is trying to seep into the minds of kids and adults alike. Sure, it's a bit of a fun sci-fi family adventure with great special effects, but it's this message filmmakers are really focused on, and it couldn't have been more clear if they put it on a giant billboard and waved it right in front of your face. Despite its clarity, many people seemed to have missed the blatant environmental message it attempts to plaster all over itself, that the future is now and the problems of climate change are affecting us today, and despite our vast knowledge and all the evidence, many of us choose to ignore it or deny it's happening (which is really just silly, but this is not a political discussion). There is a glimmer of hope in the movie and in life, however, since it's not to late to do something about it and make a change to make the world a better place. It wants to espouse this message, but also maintains that there is hope, so long as we believe and be a dreamer. We think this message is a large reason why it has not been as critically acclaimed as its filmmakers intended, but this is certainly not its only problem. Whatever narrative the film has beyond this is built around that message and only exists to put the characters into fun, wacky, fantastical and exciting situations which are enjoyable to watch so the audience will be entertained while receiving the aforementioned (and sometimes preachy) message.

All the acting in the movie is really good, too. George Clooney always does a great job and I have really come to like him. He plays the disillusioned, angry Frank with a real conviction, but also maintains a hopeful twinkle in his eye. Britt Robertson, who didn't really impress us in "The Longest Ride," manages to be much more tolerable in this film as the optimistic, science-minded genius Casey. The real star of the show is Raffey Cassidy, a relative newcomer, who performs extremely well alongside the likes of veterans Clooney and Hugh Laurie, displaying a wide range of emotions for such a young kid (and a robot!). Speaking of Hugh Laurie, it's sort of weird after watching multiple seasons of "House, M.D." to hear him speaking in his actual British voice! Laurie is the baddy here, but has little to no time to really shine until the latter portion of the film, and even then, he could have sadly been interchanged with anyone else. As we mentioned earlier, the special effects are exceptional! There are some really cool gadgets and gizmos on display in this movie, though it seems like director Brad Bird gets caught up in the showmanship of these items and often gets lost along the way. There are some outstanding action sequences involving some hilarious smiling androids trying their damnedest to blend in with everyday Earthlings. These droids want to stop our heroes from accomplishing their goal, even if the heroes themselves aren't quite sure what that goal is. These obvious bots break up some of the more meandering and elongated scenes and provide some much needed humor.

While we left the theater satisfied enough, it still felt like something was missing when all was said and done. Despite the film's patchwork storytelling, however, "Tomorrowland" is still a good, enjoyable time, and though it sort of feels like something we have seen before, it was still a fun movie to watch on the big screen. Though it is clearly written for a younger audience, be aware that it is surprisingly violent for a PG film. Even though most of the said violence is against androids, there are a couple of scenes that could be deemed pretty perilous scenes for little ones. All in all, if you don't mind the message along the way, the visual spectacle is more than enough to justify the price of an early day admission.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 51%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?


  1. We requested the fifth movie. As the only remaining Pirates fans (Adam and I) they felt obligated to do it.

    1. Well, that's okay! We're probably the only 2 people who liked the 4th one, lol!