Starring: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie
Genre: Action/ Adventure
By sheer coincidence, a young and curious teenager (Robertson) and an embittered former-boy genius (Clooney) join forces to embark on a dangerous mission to find and unearth the secrets of ‘Tomorrowland’; an enigmatic place located somewhere in time and space.
In this cinematic era of all big budget films being remakes, sequels or adaptations, I am sure that I am not alone in wanting a big budget film with an original idea to succeed. Well, Tomorrowland is original in that it based on a theme park ride, but unlike another money spinning Disney franchise based on a theme park ride, had a lukewarm box office return and any sequels are highly unlikely.
Despite having one of Hollywood’s safer pair of hands in the starring role in the form of George Clooney, he is certainly not guaranteed to get bums on seats, and this and the cinema going public’s reluctance to take a chance on the unfamiliar most certainly did not help either, and will only further prevent studios from investing the big bucks in original ideas. There is no denying that Tomorrowland is a generally enjoyable enough watch with some really interesting themes and concepts at its core, but with a narrative that is all over the place in terms of both structure and tone it will be a film that is quickly forgotten and sadly does deserve its modest box office return.
From the off things are uneven, with dual narration and the story being told from the point of view of two of its characters, and though it becomes prevalent as to why this has been done later in the film, it immediately makes the film more challenging to watch than it should be and is really hard to get into. However the one consistency Tomorrowland does have is its continuous inconsistency in what seems to be a struggle for Brad Bird to bring his ideas and vision to the screen and transform them into an engaging narrative. It ultimately feels disjointed and verges into just being completely bonkers, though not quite on the same level as Jupiter Ascending! It is this sense of fun and the solid performances that just about save Tomorrowland.
It is certainly a role that never even threatens to challenge him and Clooney is solid but admittedly unspectacular as Frank, though the script certainly doesn’t help, another actor may have given this character the edge and extreme bitterness his character is supposed to feel as Clooney does seem to be cruising. Clooney is undoubtedly out staged by his younger co-stars whose energetic performances undoubtedly help the film no end; Britt Robertson, appearing in far more scenes than Clooney, is infectiously energetic and Raffey Cassidy is also excellent as Athena, a very important narrative character. Meanwhile Hugh Laurie enjoys himself very much, and though he chews as much scenery as the script certainly suggests he should, it is a character which is the most lazily written of them all.
As the extremely uneven story develops and bizarre ideas are introduced straight away, technological developments are introduced at the narrative’s lazy convenience rather than feeling like interesting developments or jaw-dropping revelations. This makes it impossible to take the films examinations of ideas such as our obsession with when our world is going to end and our cynicism towards the future that seriously, especially as they are just thrown in casually without any real development or examination.
Tomorrowland’s other saving grace are the visuals; Brad Bird creates an immersive visual world whenever the film takes place in Tomorrowland. However, though he is obviously a director with vision and talent, the compromises he may have had to make to bring Tomorrowland has created a completely uneven and highly forgettable mess.
As much as its originality and ambition deserves credit, there is no getting away from the fact that Tomorrowland is a completely disjointed mess of a film deserving of its poor box office return and will be forgotten about very quickly indeed.