No one knew what to think of this movie before it was released. Many of us thought Tomorrowland had something to do with the studio’s popular theme park of the same name. I though it might take place inside the theme park. And once the film was released… everyone became just plain confused. It became a box office bomb and the first “eh?” film by otherwise successful director Brad Bird.
Tomorrowland starts off strangely with opening narration by Clooney as Frank Walker, a genius that went to Tomorrowland as a child, but is now back on earth for reasons left unexplained. This does provide an interesting start yet the movie can’t quite follow up to that potential. We find out over the course of the movie that Tomorrowland is actually a different dimension and can send humanoid robots into our world and populate among us.
Trouble starts when Casey Newton (Britt Robinson), discovers a pin she has no idea about. Apparently, touching the pin takes her to Tomorrowland, if only in brief flashes. Real-world parameters still exist which does bring a funny scene or two, with Casey running into “invisible” drawers. She runs into more trouble, escaping death more than once from Terminator-esque robots and meets up with Frank plus a female robot programmed to protect her. This robot also happens to be the one who gave Casey the pin and is Frank’s old childhood love. After escaping they eventually reenter Tomorrowland, now run by Governor Nix (Hugh Laurie, aka Dr. House).
Plot holes notwithstanding, Tomorrowland‘s biggest problem lies in its message. Throughout the film, I wondering who the target audience was for. some scenes are more kid-centered while others are more adult-centered. Furthermore, during one scene I wondered if it was trying to be an environmental warning of some sort.
Its almost like you’re watching a half-hour commercial for a new Disney theme park in one sequence, but then you’re watching something that looks like concept art from Jupiter Ascending. Then you watch something reminding you of a kids film, and go back and forth between all three until the film finally ends.
Thank goodness just about everything else in this film works. The special effects are top-notch, Bird’s directing is his usual successful style, Michael Gichannio’s score only further increases his success this year, and the acting on all sides is rather good, especially the girl who plays the female robot.
Tomorrowland‘s certainly mind-boggling – just not the type of mind-boggling the filmmakers wanted. The potential for it to be a blockbuster is there and it both looks and sounds wonderful. When you get down to it, however, the ultra-confusing plot is what kills this film. It tries to be several different movies (and two endings) at once. Although parts of it work, the entire product can’t hold the concept together on its own, much less make it the jumping point for Disney’s next great franchise.
Director: Brad Bird
Stars: George Clooney, Britt Robinson, Hugh Laurie
Studio: Walt Disney Motion Pictures