It’s time for a Disney addition of D&D Mixed Reviews. This time myself (Derek) and Denis will be taking a look at the live action Disney film, Tomorrowland. The review will be split into four categories; PLOT, PERFORMANCES, PRODUCTION AND OVERALL FILM QUALITY. The review will then end with a score of SEE IN THEATRES, WAIT FOR RENTAL or PASS.
But first, here’s a look at the films plot.
The film follows Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) the daughter of a former NASA engineer. From an early age, Casey has had the ability to figure out technology seconds after seeing it used. With this talent she’s recruited by Athena (Raffey Cassidy), a robot, who gives her a pin. Once she touches it, Casey is brought to a future world where just about anything is possible.
In hopes to go there again she and Athena track down Frank (George Clooney) an older man who spend years in the Tomorrowland. However, there are forces that don’t her to get there and the two must flee from an army of robots. Once in Tomorrowland, it’s up to the three try to stop David Nix (Hugh Laurie) from trying to destroy the future.
If the description above seems convoluted it’s cause the plot is a little all over the place. While there are a lot of solid ideas in this film, they don’t end up meshing together well. This is due, in no small part, to the cringe worthy dialogue. To say that most of the lines for this film are “on-the-nose” would be an understatement as groaner lines are soon followed by more dialogue that’ll leave your face in your palms. Add on top of that a plot that does little to explain anything and a message that so broad it stops just short of “Hey humans! Don’t be a bunch of A$$holes!” and this film ends up being more then a little insulting at times.
Ok. I’m gonna break some sh*t down for y’all to help emphasis how this movie is screwed up in my opinion. Again, my opinion so no fire and pitchforks! Tomorowland started strong, with it’s first act introducing us the backstories of the two central characters and giving us glimpses of Tomorowland. Then the second act came, with the retro store and the endless driving, the movie started to crumble. It chugged along through set piece after set piece with tedious pacing and then when we finally get to the third act, we get more talking and talking and talking leading to a finale that it about as impactful as ghost’s high five. This movie that started so strong, and felt like a great sci fi movie that embraced optimism instead boiled down to a lesson that Hugh Laurie gives about how we all get hard over our apocalypse fantasies, in a monologue that I thought at one point should have just had Hugh look directly into the camera as ask if we were listening. It’s went from subtle to blunt so fast, I could barely comprehend what I watched as I walked a bit dazed out of the theatre.
With so many terrible lines of dialogue, there’s little time for the cast to really shine. Clooney and Laurie do a passible job playing their respective roles, but the rest of the cast is left playing cardboard cutouts of characters. The film’s young star Britt Robertson doesn’t really come off poorly, but seems to lack any presence on film. Sure, she has her “what is happening?” manic moments, but past those wacky minutes she blends in with the background. The one actor who stuck out like a sour thumb was Casey’s father and NASA Engineer. Try saying Tim McGraw, NASA Engineer out loud and not laugh. It’s quite difficult. Overall, no one is impressive.
The cast is great, they do their best with some of the on-the-nose dialogue. Kudos goes to Clooney who actually plays a character, he’s not the utterly Cloonster! Which is nice, he’s embraces the craggy old man inside and that was great. It is a bit weird that he has a romanticish relationship with a robotic ten year old girl, but Clooney manages to make it fairly non creepy.
Finally, the films strong suit, overall the production is impressive. Like I said in the PLOT section, there are a lot of great ideas in Tomorrowland, but the film ends up getting in the way. From the future tech to the impressive recreation of 1960s Disneyland, the film has a sharp eye for details. That being said, much of the films second half ends up feeling like a Star Wars prequel with green screens replacing sets. While these tools are expected in a film that’s supposed to take us to the future, it doesn’t stop the film from looking fake and at times lame. But the practical effects and props are all impressive.
The production was great, I liked the distinctive style and prop differences between the two time periods. All the effects were quite natural and seamless. But maybe it’s just me, but that little British girl sounded like all her dialogue was ADR’d. Like all of it. Maybe it’s just me, or maybe it’s the robot thing. But that stuck out to me.
When I first heard the premise of Tomorrowland, I was excited. There was a mystery behind it, that keep me thinking about my memories of going to Disney World when I was young. This deepened with the film’s inclusion of It’s a Small World and the Carousel of Progress which took me back to that time again, however the film ended up crushing my hopes. With lame dialogue and lacklustre characters, I can’t recommend you leave your house to see this film, and for some reason that nearly kills the five year old version of me. This is film thats best saved for Long Flights or for instant streaming when the time comes. WAIT FOR RENTAL
Tomorowland is a new idea… poorly realized in it’s later parts and promoted with a needless mystery but an original idea non the less. The intricate backstory, great sci fi style and Disney flavour seemed like an amazing setup for a timeless Disney classic. But it’s bad, and you should avoid spending your hard earned dollars on a movie such as this. Take you kids to Mad Max instead, sure theres violence and language but at least they’ll be watching something that makes sense and embraces it’s world. And you can be referred to by your kids friends as the “cool parents”. WAIT FOR RENTAL
Tomorrowland was produced Walt Disney Pictures and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.