Saturday, May 23, 2015

Tomorrowland – Review


Director Brad Bird who won Oscars for Best Animation for “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille” and who also direct the action packed “Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol”, takes on another feature film starring Oscar Winner George Clooney in a mystery adventure story called “Tomorrowland”.

The story has a bit of a time travel plot – component to it. It is also where we find early on Clooney’s character as a 10 year old-ish boy genius named Frank who is obsessed with his jet pack invention. While trying to showcase his jet pack idea at the 1964 World Fair in New York he has an encounter with a mysterious young girl of his own age named Athena, who gives Frank a T shaped pin that catapults him into a realm where it’s the future and people are making wonderful things for the betterment of mankind and the earth as well. 

Meanwhile back on earth years later after Frank had disappeared a super bright and idealistic teenage girl named Casey who sees the world slowly being destroyed has come in possession of the same T shaped pin that Frank received years ago. To her astonishment she discovers that when she touches it she is catapulted (back and forth) to the same dimensional time and place as has happened to Frank when he was a young boy.

So, the story begins as we find a confused Casey going out to solve the mystery of what exactly the magic pin is, where did it come from and why did someone give it to her.

PROS: Tomorrowland has a very good intentioned heart, with real charm and warmth to its basic core which could have you watching it simply for the overall message that the earth is slowly and systematically being destroyed by human’s hands and human procrastination. On the countervailing hand it also has a noble ambition to it cinematic soul, as it wants to convey the eternal optimism that exist within all humans to providing the lasting solutions to the world’s problems and social ills, etc., etc.

CONS: While its plot is well-intentioned and a lot of its message it true, it also is a very preachy film about how current humans are not being good stewards of the earth as we sit by and doing nothing about what is happening around us. And while I have no doubt this film tries to reach the next generation to coming up with imaginative and creative solutions for our blue planet, in the end the film’s effort falls flat on getting the masses really motivated to actually doing something about it.

Conclusion: “Tomorrowland” has three problems. One, it is poorly written and poorly directed, in that it felt like watching someone open a puzzle box that said 100 pieces, only to see when its contents are spilled on to the coffee table it’s actually more like one million pieces. The meandering dialog and direction made this movie going experience overly complicated and frustrating to watch and listen to.

Two, George Clooney and Hugh Laurie are veteran actors who know their craft well and made as much of this limited disjointed plot as interesting as they could. But the drag on the film for me were the kids who annoyed me to no end; especially the lead character Casey who was supposed to be the endearing, smart and  good hearted one to the story. She came across as whinny and a total nuisance to the film, even to the point where there is a scene (which is supposed to be funny) where she beats a robot to death with a bat more than a full minute. It goes without saying I don’t condone any violence on children or women, but I do know why certain species eat their young, especially if they are as annoying as Casey.

Finally three, someone forgot to tell Director Brad Bird he was making a feature film and not an animation film again. For all practical purposes this movie felt like it would have been more suited in the animation format in that it looked like and felt like an animation film, especially with its almost animated look and visions of the future. I am not talking about the concepts or ideas of the future, I mean literally the physical look of the movie looked like special effects animation.

Note to Brad Bird, in the future watch films like “Gravity”, “Mad Max” or any of the recent soon to be release new “Star Wars” film trailers if you ever venture into this kind of technical futuristic script again, they will serve you well for generating ideas. Or maybe he can just find his way to doing more animation films soon.

In the end, I am not sure who the intended audience was for this film. Was it mostly for kids? Mostly for adults? Or both. For either audience I found unfortunately the film to be a mess that missed its mark by being emotionally underwhelming with a wobbly story line that was structurally incoherent.  

“Tomorrowland” made me feel more annoyed and grumpy about an important subject matter rather than optimistic.

2 Stars

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