Tomorrowland Review

Tomorrowland

Trying to avoid the hype where I can, I actually signed up for the Tomorrowland screening without knowing too much about it.

From the title, I imagined that it could have been some sort of metaphorical, sparse, indie movie.

Or, stretching my imagination further, it could have been some sort of dark, post-apocalyptic monsterfest.

Then again, it could have been a loud, budget-heavy, muddled popcorn flick aimed at kids and pre-teens.

Here’s a clue. it’s not the first two.

The film is about Frank and Casey, respectively a reclusive inventor and a rebellious teen, both of whom are somehow connected to a fantastical place called Tomorrowland. Which may or may not represent the future of mankind.

Some background context is initially relayed to us by Frank before suddenly switching over to Casey, which is either a quirky narrative choice, or a lack of confidence in linear storytelling. I suspect the latter.

Frank, in kid form, long ago encountered Tomorrowland, with the aid of a mysterious girl called Athena.

Space-obsessed Casey in the present-day encounters a means of travelling to Tomorrowland by touching a magic badge which she has found amongst her belongings.

She sets about investigating further but before long, finds herself pursued by killer robots, desperate to find out what she knows. Or rather, doesn’t know.

Somewhere along the way, she encounters the grown-up version of Frank, and then the two realise that humanity is doomed unless they do something about it.

Cue the climactic third act.

Tomorrowland should work as an adventure film. There is a sense of fun, enthusiastic performances and imagination to burn.

But several things are amiss.

Clooney, for example, provides star wattage but is miscast as some sort of Doc Brown character. And whilst the young actress tackling the not-insignificant part of Athena may have a bright future and is certainly committed to the role, her acting skills could definitely do with some honing.

There is also a moment near the end of the film between child-like Athena and grizzled Clooney which is aiming for tender but comes across as plain creepy.

The film’s pacing is a little confused also. The opening narration aside, Clooney only appears in earnest halfway through the film and the shifting interrelationships between the main characters give little foothold for the audience.

Which brings us to Tomorrowland itself, the catalyst for each of the character’s stories.

The place is vividly realised and bursting with ideas, but is simultaneously lacking in warmth. It all makes you wonder what the big fuss is about.

On the plus side, Britt Robertson as Casey is worth mentioning. No stranger to film sets, this is Robertson’s first big-budget foray and there is clear star power here.

And if you can ignore Disney’s shameless plugging of a certain Lucasfilm franchise, you might enjoy the twists offered by one big Summer-movie which isn’t a sequel nor based on a book.

Okay, so it is named after a Disney theme park – but you can’t have everything.

Conor Brennan

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