Let the record show that I had zero interest in ever seeing Tomorrowland. The various trailers and TV spots did little to interest in me in the film and worst, it reminded me of that God awful Jupiter Ascending piece of garbage )and that is being polite). There’s no way I ever want to revisit that life experience again! However, it was a chat amongst the Why So blu staff that sightly changed my point of view. Such sentiments as “Brad Bird could do no wrong” were tossed about heavily. Then while attending an IMAX screening of Avengers; The Age of Ultron, we were surprised with a 15-minute action clip of Tomorrowland. Suddenly, the film didn’t look that bad. I was now on the fence about Tomorrowland instead of being dead set against it. So oh why the hell not? Life’s too short for regrets. Let’s see what promise Tomorrowland may show. I do love me some original sci-fi.
So here we go again. Disney struck box office riches way back when they converted the beloved ride Pirates of the Caribbean into a golden film franchise and my best educated guess is they hope lightning strikes twice with another Disney theme park attraction, the reason we are all here, Tomorrowland. Therefore, screenwriters Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof were tasked with conceptualizing the world of Tomorrowland on paper. It is said they were heavily influenced by Walt Disney’s optimistic philosophy of innovation and utopia, in other words the total opposite of George Miller’s world in Mad Max: Fury Road (or is it?).
Brad Bird wears many hats here in Tomorrowland. I already mentioned he was a co-writer on the project, but he also serves as a producer and a director too. The film boasts a pretty impressive lineup of familiar faces such as Mr. George Clooney (who if you ask me has been nothing but miss in recent flicks), Hugh Laurie, Kathryn Hahn, Judy Greer and even country superstar Tim McGraw. However, what it all comes down for me is this. As a Disney stockholder, I selfishly want this movie to succeed. I could care less about quality as long as it performs, but let’s not make this a conflict of interest with me, let’s unbiasedly talk some Tomorrowland now.
So after taken in all that Tomorrowland had to offer Monday night, I can’t help saying this, but I have this gut wrenching pain in my stomach that there goes my Disney stock down the drain. The only thing that can save me now is the Force and my hopeful Jedi protectors this December. Yes, read between the lines people. Tomorrowland SUCKED. Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all that bad. In fact, the film opened up with great wonder and awe, but it never capitalized or hooked you in after those first breathtaking moments experienced in the futuristic world of Tomorrowland (wherever it was in another dimension) and thus the quality of the film just diminished more and more as the story unravelled, and that’s not probably the best word to use to describe it. Let’s just say for argument sake that the story got messier and more convoluted as the feature’s length, which felt like four hours, went on. It got bogged down by its own message it was trying to convey and somewhere along the way it completely forgot what it was trying to achieve in the first place.
I’m not going to bore you with a synopsis or a quick recap of what the film is all about or trying to accomplish. You can research that on your own. Instead, let me tell you what I like about the film. On the surface, the trailers and commercials promise you this big, bold world of technology, potential and dazzle. They deliver upon that in the first half hour or so of the film, but that’s all you get folks. What glitters isn’t always gold. I wanted more tech, more advanced architecture, more of everything. Instead, I received just status quo. Tomorrowland really never blasts off. I felt like I was stranded on Earth for the majority of the film’s 2+ hour runtime and that’s no way to feel in a science fiction movie. In fact, I don’t know how a kid’s attention span could last through this. When I looked around the whole audience was bored to tears. Again, this is no way to feel in a science fiction movie. It should be daring and bold and make you want to soar. All I could think about was how lucky my phone was that I had to leave in the car during the screening. I would have happily traded places with it.
The other thing I liked about the film was its younger cast, most notably Thomas Robinson (younger Frank Walker) and Raffey Cassidy, who never breaks her character (I can see her going far in Hollywood if she chooses). It was uncanny how much Thomas looked like a younger version of Clooney. Hats off to whomever did this casting. I only wish I could sing more praise for the story and the rest of the adult cast. They were flat, boring and ultimately left me uninterested, and I don’t even want to talk about the scene with Keegan-Micahel Key other than say props to all the Star Wars collectables (Disney ingeniously had their own commercial within a film). Clooney looked like a fish out of water in this role (not to mention his awkward love for a child that I’ll refrain from all together here). If only I could get into his head, I’m sure I would hear his thoughts that he just needs to make it through production and pose for some pictures afterwards for that big payday. And hey, who am I to fault someone for wanting to make money? I support you George. I just wish Disney could have used $190 million dollar budget for better things. Between this budget and that of Jupiter Ascending‘s, Hollywood could have solved world hunger or put a stop to terrorism.
The goal of Tomorrowland was to fix something that was broken. Well they certainly took a long about way in achieving this and in the end we were left with a boring, uninteresting and completely collapsable storyline. The word weak doesn’t even come close to describing it. I was asked by a fellow reviewer if there were any good things about Tomorrowland I at least took away from the film. I had to think long and hard about that question. I already said I was sucked in from the very beginning, but ultimately that went nowhere. The characters the kids played were energetic and very entertaining. Finally, I would have to give Tomorrowland props for one other major thing. It’s a modern day cure for insomnia. I haven’t seen an audience look more bored and bewildered since Jupiter Ascending, and beyond that probably not since The Lords of Salem. And that really is the problem here. If I am trying to figure out which one I hate worse, Jupiter Ascending or Tomorrowland, I have issues! I never thought anything could out reek Jupiter Ascending in 2015. That’s quite an accomplishment when you think about it.
I’ll take this moment now to digress here because I really did want Tomorrowland to be something special, magical and fantastical. I was rooting for it big time despite being uninterested by the trailers and ignoring all the negative early reviews. However, make no mistake, they were all right. Tomorrowland is a hot mess. This is the last time I don’t trust my gut when a film’s three theatrical trailers fail to turn me onto the property. After all, aren’t trailers supposed to be some of the best moments of the film without major spoilers? They exist to draw you in and whet your appetite. I should have known better. Fool me once (Jupiter Ascending), shame on you, but fool me twice (now with Tomorrowland)…I need to start listening to my inner intellect more closely. The story arc and resolve here was not worth the wait for me. How these problems were not caught before in early test screenings, I’m not sure. It’s not the superior, shiny product I thought I was going to see. Don’t be judged by the glossiness of it all. Do some research on this one yourself before going in and more importantly dragging your impatient youngsters with you because unlike me, they may not be able to sit all the way through it. It’s too bad this flick couldn’t have been all Frank Jr. (Thomas Robinson).
So parents, let’s practice this. If your kids see all these Tomorrowland television commercials and say “mommy and daddy I want to go see Tomorrowland,” here’s what I want you to do. I want you to go down to the cellar, basement, closet or wherever you need to in order to find some paint. You can even borrow some from your neighbor if you don’t have any. I don’t care where you get it from. Spray paint works too. I want you to brush or spray some of that paint on a piece of ordinary white printing paper. You will then instruct your kid to watch the paint dry. When the paint is dry and your kid turns to you and asks why you made them do it, here’s what you will tell them. “That was more exciting than anything Tomorrowland has to offer you. Now go to your room!” It’s cheaper this way too! Take your kids to a brit milah if you really must get them out of the house. Not all firecrackers are spectacular. Some are just duds! Such is Tomorrowland. If this is tomorrow, KILL ME NOW!