Tomorrowland: A Somewhat Underwhelming Adventure

Tomorrowland: A Somewhat Underwhelming Adventure

(Some Minor Spoilers Included) Tomorrowland is an original sci-fi adventure story from Disney, directed by Brad Bird and starring George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, and Hugh Laurie.

The film begins with Casey (Robertson), who finds herself in jail after tampering with equipment at a NASA facility in hopes of prolonging her father’s employment with the company. As she leaves the police station she finds a curious looking pin among her belongings. When she tries to pick it up the tactile impact transports her into another world, Tomorrowland. Unfortunately, this is only a temporary window and doesn’t allow her to physically be there. But her inquisitive nature leads her to track down where it came from to get some answers. She soon learns that it was no accident that she came to possess such a technologically advanced device. What follows is a fun, daring adventure full of splendorous visuals and youthful wonder.

The performances by everyone were amazing. Britt Robertson has one of the best performances of her career and gets an opportunity to show us what she can do in the lead role of Casey Newton. Casey is a young optimist surrounded by theories of doomsday and the problems of the world, but with no one talking about the solutions. That is what she is interested in – what will make the world a better place. Robertson does a fantastic job of capturing that wonder and excitement Casey has for scientific discovery, and her “never give up” optimism.

George Clooney continues to be great with his performance in the supporting role of Frank Walker – a boy inventor who grew into a pessimistic, grumpy old man that lost his sense of wonder and discovery that defined his whimsical youth inventing jetpacks and all sorts of contraptions.

tomorrowland screenshot

Frank and Casey have great chemistry and it is fun to see them somewhat playfully argue and exchange quips throughout the film. It is as if he is fighting a more overtly passionate version of his former self. And it is that likeness to his youth that changes him and propels the film.

Even with great performances from both Clooney and Robertson, I found myself mostly blown away by the ability and maturity of the child actors. There were however a couple moments where one of the kid characters had some dialogue that made him seem much older than he is in the context of the movie. Despite that they all gave real, nuanced acting performances as opposed to simply looking the part and reading the lines.

In particular Raffey Cassidy, who played the recruitment android Athena, did a wonderful job in a near perfect and detailed performance as a child robot with the mental capacity of an adult. There can be easy mistakes made with robots in movies that make it come off too mechanical and without any personality. Cassidy was able to surpass that and bring to life this really fun character.

Hugh Laurie plays the main antagonist and ruler of Tomorrowland, David Nix. The performance itself was great, especially his monologue at the tail end of the film, but he didn’t really get much screen time.

Despite being the main antagonist you don’t really get to see Nix until the end. The biggest issue I had was with the character, and specifically the villain’s personal motivations, which were either not entirely clear or far too clear for that of a believable human being.

I can understand his disdain and frustration but what I don’t understand is why he becomes a villain as a result. It just makes him out to be this evil guy that hates people so he does an evil thing. And it is only in the last portion of the film that any of this becomes an issue. The majority of the movie was learning about the pin and getting to Tomorrowland, without knowledge of what was going on in the end.

He is just an evil guy to use as a blatant comparison to our reality, a mouth piece to convey the message of the story. I wish there was more of him and that Hugh Laurie wasn’t just thrown in there for that sole purpose.

There was no doubt in my mind that if the trailer was any indication of what was to come that this was going to be a gorgeous looking movie. It turned out to be as great as I imagined with some awesome action scenes and a glimpse of the bustling future city, Tomorrowland. Unfortunately, it really is only the briefest glimpse of Tomorrowland. We see it in all its glory in early portion of the film and when we see it again much later it is without all the activity we saw before and thus not as exciting.

Tomorrowland is a refreshing and unique story that thankfully breaks up the parade of sequels, remakes, and reboots that plague the screens. It’s an entertaining sci-fi adventure movie for the whole family that showcases some great acting talent from the entire cast.

The atypical story structure made it feel like a real extemporaneous journey, but broke it up into weird segments, which distanced the main antagonist from the spotlight most of the film. Despite great performances it glossed over what should have been a bigger part for the antagonist.

Ultimately, there are a lot of great moments and an interesting story, but it leads to a disappointing finish that provides only an underwhelming nibble of the magical Tomorrowland.

 

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