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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Tomorrowland | George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, Hugh Laurie, Tim McGraw, Thomas Robertson | Review

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3sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE Judy Thorburn

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3lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE

 

Tomorrowland

Walt Disney's vision of the future, as depicted in his Disneyland theme park attraction, was the inspiration for Tomorrowland, a sci fi, fantasy adventure starring George Clooney and rising star Britt Robertson (The Longest Ride).
Unlike The Wizard of Oz's Dorothy who clicked her red slippers and was transported to another world, a magical pin is the conduit that transports a “special” person to a secret place in another time and dimension called Tomorrowland.

As the story unfolds, there are two parallel stories that eventually collide. But, first we have to go back decades into the past where we meet Frank Walker, a wide eyed, genius, child inventor (played by Thomas Robinson) who, during a visit to the 1964 World's Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York is transported, via a portal, to Tomorrowland by a mysterious, young, freckled face girl with a British accent named Athena (a scene stealing, Raffey Cassidy).

Flash forward to present day. Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) is a bright, optimistic science loving teenager living in Cape Canaveral, Florida with her NASA engineer father (Tim McGraw) and younger bother (Pierce Gagnon) when she suddenly discovers a special lapel pin among her belongings. Upon touching it, Casey is whisked away to Tomorrowland, where she gets to view the sights and sounds of this utopian future society, but only for a few moments before the pin's power runs out.

Bursting with curiosity and thirsty for more, Casey decides to visit a memorabilia shop called Blast from the Past, hoping to find another pin with the same unique quality, but instead finds herself targeted for death by the strange proprietors (Kathryn Hahn, Keegan-Michael Key) before Athena, equipped with assassin like skills, shows up to save her life. Athena sweeps Casey away in a truck and drops her off at the remote, gadget filled home of the now middle aged, but still brilliant, inventor Frank Walker (Clooney) who has turned into a cantankerous, disillusioned dreamer with a pessimistic outlook on life. With bolts on his door and his home equipped with high tech technology and defense mechanisms to stop intruders, Frank is living as a recluse convinced that the human race is destroying our planet and has paved a path to gloom and doom.

For some reason, a gang of murderous robots are after Casey in hot pursuit. Although Frank initially resists Casey's optimism and wants nothing to do with her, when the armed, dangerous robots break in and threaten their lives, Frank forms an alliance with the teen in her quest to return to Tomorrowland, that might be the key to saving our world.

Without giving away any more, suffice to say, this film did not fulfill my expectations. While the visuals are dazzling, the special effects are awesome, and the camera work and editing are impressive, the film is weighed down by a convoluted, messy narrative containing unanswered questions, plot holes and other stuff that don't make much sense.

The movie kicks off with an interesting premise but never lives up to the promise. Rather, it soon unravels as another action film featuring a series of cat and mouse chases. I would have liked to have spent more time in Tomorrowland and given less talk about it.

Only towards the end do some pieces of the puzzle, but not all, seem to come together. Tomorrowland's Governor Nix (Hugh Laurie) gives a thought provoking, timely lecture about where the future of mankind is headed because people are uninterested in getting involved and making a positive difference. There's plenty said in "Tomorrowland," about the importance of dreamers, people who dream big and haven't given up on fixing the world. However, that, in itself, undermines the valuable message of how every single person has the ability to change the world, if they would just stop being apathetic.

In an interview, director Brad Bird (“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”, Pixar animations, “The Incredibles” “Ratatouille”) was asked why the eagerly anticipated  movie was shrouded in mystery. He responded by saying he didn't want to reveal anything about the story before people see the film.

That's a cop out, if I ever heard one by this acclaimed director, who, with cowriter Damon Lindelof (Cowboys and Aliens, Prometheus, TV’s “Lost”) deliver a disappointing film.

At one point,  Frank tells Casey after her initial unwelcome intrusion into his life, “Must I explain everything to you?  Can’t you just be amazed and move on?” My reply would be, yes I need an explanation, because I had high hopes about this film, but was let down. Considering its preachy message about how optimist dreamers can fix things and make it right, I am amazed that so much is wrong with this film. Unfortunately, no amount of optimism can change that.

 

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