If “Tomorrowland” is the future, our days ahead are going to be exceptionally preachy and boring. That is hard to imagine when the world of “Tomorrowland” features jet packs, flying trains, time-and-space travel, and rockets hidden in some of the world’s most famous monuments. One can assume this is what happens when Disney inexplicably decides to make a movie about one of their theme parks.
That is exactly what Disney has done to director Brad Bird and screenwriter Damon Lindelof. These two poor, unfortunate souls were forced to sit down and hammer out this 130 minute borefest that has little to no excitement in it. There are more thrills sitting in a car during Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride than the entirety of this motion picture.
The movie begins with Frank (George Clooney) explaining how he got to Tomorrowland as an unseen Casey (Britt Robertson) constantly interrupts him, proving that the smartest kid in the class can indeed also be the most annoying. “Tomorrowland” then flashes back to a young Frank (Thomas Robertson) visiting the 1964 World’s Fair in an attempt to win $50 for his non-working jet pack invention.
After he’s told to hit the bricks by a funny, droll judge (Hugh Laurie), he is stalked by Athena (Raffey Cassidy). Athena gives him a pin with a T on it and tells him to follow her and the aforementioned judge. Since product placement is the name of the “Tomorrowland” game, they hop on the “It’s A Small World” ride and they are all magically whisked to another world.
For these brief opening moments, this movie is interesting. The gorgeous CGI-city is truly a spectacle to behold, even as the slightly annoying young Frank zips around in it.
Sadly, the movie shifts to the story of Casey, who spends her time sneaking out of her house at night to sabotage the operation that is disassembling a NASA space shuttle. After she’s arrested and bailed out by her father (Tim McGraw), she finds one of the very same fancy T pins in her belongings and she’s whisked off to Tomorrowland.
The secrecy surrounding this movie has been intense. Even after seeing the movie, it’s still a secret. Where is Tomorrowland? Is it the future? Is it another world? Are they all robots? Are they aliens? Where the heck is this land that the movie only spends about thirty minutes in?
Perhaps these are questions that Bird and Lindelof hope an audience doesn’t ask because “Tomorrowland” doesn’t give you any answers. This, after leaving many people in anger after his treatment of “Lost” and “Prometheus”, has become a Lindelof specialty. Apparently, Lindelof thinks that the best way to pique interest is to raise as many questions as possible then never come remotely close to answering a single one of them.
The most surprisingly aspect of “Tomorrowland” is Brad Bird’s direction. It’s boring, uninspired, and just so very, very Disney-fied. Sure, the effects are amazing but it’s never shown in a unique way and any scenes meant to thrill look, sound, and feel like the effort from a director that just doesn’t care.
The actors aren’t doing much better. Aside from a very cute performance from Raffey Cassidy, everyone is going through the motions. Britt Robertson just smirks along, using the same snarky delivery for every single line. She gets virtually zero character development, other than a montage of her teachers ignoring her hand being raised in class. This sequence is the laziest scripted way to say “Look how smart she is!”.
George Clooney has gone full “get off my lawn” in “Tomorrowland”. He essentially growls every single word he says and just doesn’t make for a convincing nerd. His character is devoid of personality, aside from being annoyed at everything and everyone.
If Clooney seems bored, Hugh Laurie is absolutely asleep at the switch. He is saddled with a Bond villain rant that is meant to guilt trip humanity for every ill that has happened in Earth’s history. It stalls the movie out so badly that it’s equivalent to a race car driver pulling the emergency brake while going 180 miles per hour.
While it seems geared towards kids, “Tomorrowland” is definitely not a kids movie. Not only will the overly talky script be like a dose of Ambien, there is a shocking amount of violence for a PG rated movie. Sure, it involves robots being blown to bits, but a beheading is a beheading and it’s fairly jarring to see.
“Tomorrowland” is essentially two hours of characters scolding an audience, telling us all that we are bad people and if we don’t get it together, the world is going explode. In true Disney style, it tries to douse the final thirty minutes with a bucket of positivity, but complete fails in its not-so-subtle execution. If the writers maybe spent a little less time doing trust falls and singing kumbaya, they may have created a more entertaining adventure.