A well-intentioned, convoluted mess
Tomorrowland (2015): 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.
See that description? See how confusing that sounds? This film had 130 minutes to lay all that out there in an interesting and coherent way. While the film certainly has moments of being interesting, it's pretty, well, not coherent. Yes, the overall story makes sense, (even though the third act is incredibly rushed as if Brad Bird and company didn't want to make this film longer than two hours) but that's not what I'm talking about. There are so many themes of overconsumption and oh! we're leading humanity towards certain destruction! littered about with NO call to action. Not only that, the themes in this film contradicted each other. First off, there's this whole thing about innovation and how great it is, but now OH NO! Innovation is killing the planet! NO. No. Bad Tomorrowland. You can't have it both ways.
It's a shame too, because I love Brad Bird's work. That was the primary reason I went out and saw this film. The man directed The Incredibles, The Iron Giant, and the surprisingly good Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. But this film is easily the weakest film he's made in a long time. It clearly bit off more than it could chew, while simultaneously being sure that it appealed to its target demographic: baby boomers. Let's talk about that, shall we? I could not help but feel like this film was a corporate Disney film with a checklist of things to include in it to make the target demographic happy. Have George Clooney be the lead? Check. Have a film talk about the 1964 World's Fair and how great it was? Something that the baby boomers would be just old enough to remember and young enough to revere? Check. Include the It's A Small World ride, which baby boomers always make their children ride at the parks? Check. Have a regressive stance on the world today? Say that innovation is killing our species? Man, baby boomers will love that! Check. Have a female lead that'll make every baby boomer think of their own children because she herself is meant to be a teenager? (Even though I didn't buy a teenager being that smart and savvy for a second.) Check. See what I mean? It's just a checklist! That's all this film is. A checklist. Oh ya! One final thing to mention that I really did not appreciate in this film. I can't say much about it without spoiling anything, but there was a romance involving George Clooney that made me, and I'm sure many other younger people with a more liberal mind, very uncomfortable. The conclusion of this storyline had me yelling NO DON'T DO IT GEORGE! IT'S A TRAP. I don't think the film wanted me to be saying that at that moment. Could be wrong though.
You probably think I hate this film, but I don't. Let's talk about the positives. First off, George Clooney reminds us why he's a movie star. The dude's great, and his performance is a shoutout to the performances of the great Hollywood stars of the early days. You didn't go see 1959's Some Like it Hot because you were interested in the story. No. You went and saw Some Like it Hot because Marilyn Monroe was in it. And Clooney's performance here very much reflects that. I always love seeing a film or an actor embrace their persona and have fun with it. Not only that, but the two female leads, Britt Robertson and Raffey Cassidy more than hold their own alongside Clooney. I loved Cassidy's performance! Her performance as Athena almost outshines Clooney. Almost. And let's not forget the set design! There is no one, and I mean no one, better in the movie business at set design, costumes, and makeup than Disney. Sure, I'm worried about how good the story of The Force Awakens is going to be, but I am not even remotely worried about how that film's set design is going to turn out, or how it's going to look in general, because I know it's going to be beautiful. Because it's Disney! Finally, the score. Michael Giacchino has created what is easily the best score of 2015 up to this point. I want the soundtrack NOW. It even outpaced what was happening on screen at times, as I found myself completely ignoring what was happening on screen and just listening to the music. This is the first of three feature films for Giacchino this year, with the other two being Pixar's Inside Out and Jurassic World. You've set the bar high for yourself, Mr. Giacchino.
So ya. At the end of the day, this film is decent. But nothing more. Just....decent. I enjoyed looking at it and listening to it, but the story was majorly flawed to me. Now, if you're a Disney apologist, fine. Hate me for not thinking this is the best film of the year or whatever. But this film is very much a piece of corporate directive that exists SOLELY to get people into the theme parks and to Tomorrowland. That's just the harsh truth. If you like Disney, you've probably already seen this film. If you're skeptical, however, your time is far better spent elsewhere. Like watching Mad Max! Because who doesn't love Mad Max?
The Critique: a good effort, but a convoluted story prevents this film from being anything more than a piece of corporate directive.
The Recommendation: Disney fans and baby boomers will find something to enjoy, but everyone else will either be uncomfortable or bored out of their minds. I guess children will love it? I mean, there really isn't any good kids film out there right now, so I'd say go for it there too. They might be entertained for two hours.
Rewatchability: Moderately Low
The Verdict: 5.5/10 Slightly Above Average
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