Tomorrowland (2015) by The Critical Movie Critics

Movie Review: Tomorrowland (2015)

Brad Bird, the Academy Award-winning director of such animated classics as “Ratatouille” and “The Incredibles,” has fashioned with Tomorrowland, a clever, but muddled story of a scrappy teen, Casey Newton (Britt Robertson, “The Longest Ride”) and a cockeyed former boy genius, Frank Walker (George Clooney, “The Monuments Men”) who join forces in an attempt to save the world from itself.

Yes, there are wars, rumors of wars, droughts, famines, pestilence, global warming and other disasters that only Hollywood can heal, especially the ever-optimistic Disney Studios. In this, the third film featuring a ride at the popular Disneyland amusement park (after “Pirates of the Caribbean” and the ill-fated “Haunted Mansion”), Casey is arrested for sabotaging equipment used to dismantle the old NASA launch pad at Cape Canaveral. When her belongings are returned to her after being bailed out by much put-upon dad, Dan Newton (country singer Tim McGraw, “The Blind Side”), she discovers a Tomorrowland pin from the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

Upon touching it, she is transported to a large wheat field and then to a shining futuristic metropolis featuring huge shimmering glass structures, friendly people in jet-packs, monorails in the sky (sans tracks), multi-dimensional swimming pools and rockets that travel on regular schedules like trains.

Soon, however, the pin runs out of power and she is deposited back in her dull, dreary, dying world where she meets Athena (Raffey Cassidy, “Snow White and the Huntsman”), a weird pre-teen who seems to know more than she lets on. After helping Casey escape several close calls — including a nice little scene in a collector’s shop with a rastad-out Keegan-Michael Key (“Horrible Bosses 2”) — Athena drops off at the home of a now older and much more bitter Frank.

The disbelieving Walker is soon convinced that there is something more than spunk regarding the precocious teen (especially when a group of violent robotic secret service agents attempt to eliminate them), calling for more escape sequences.

Finally, after the necessary expository scenes involving Jules Verne, Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison and the guy who built the Eiffel Tower, we’re transported back to a much used and abused Tomorrowland, now led by Gov. Nix (Hugh Laurie, the “House” TV series) and his Nazi-like henchmen.

We’re then told that the world’s greatest scientists and thinkers conjured up this Utopian realm in another dimension and that Frank was able to invent a device which seemed to correctly predict the end of the earthly world. Content to let that particular area go to pot, Nix seems to let them believe the end is inevitable. The ever-optimistic Casey, however, refuses to believe it and her, Frank and Athena destroy a bunch of stuff to prove how wonderfully positive they are.

With a new future in hand, Casey sends out a gaggle of kids to round up every environmentalist and pinko on the planet and give them Tomorrowland pendants and start the process all over again. All told, this film does much of what it sets out to do: Grab our attention, hold onto it with a series of seamless and well-done special effects sequences and hope the story will not be too convoluted to swallow.

Tomorrowland has some intriguing ideas behind it, is ambitious and optimistic and is quite visually appealing. The other major enjoyment is gotten from following Casey and Co. through a maze of interesting clues to finally get to the idyllic community she only glimpsed for just a few minutes. When we get there, though, it isn’t much fun as the whole premise turns into a big commercial for green energy and windmill technology.

As far as the cast, only Clooney stands out here in a role he seems to genuinely enjoy. Robertson’s character and her constant questioning of every other character soon wears thin and the talented Laurie isn’t given much to chew on except a few villainous clichés about saving his own dimension at the expense of everyone else (*yawn*).

Check Tomorrowland out for a glimpse into Bird’s continued talented use of CGI and other effects (“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” had impressive set pieces too), but do not expect anything new to come from a story we’ve seen before in such better pictures as “Westworld” and “Back To the Future,” among others.

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
3 Star Rating: Average


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The Critical Movie Critics

I have been a movie fan for most of my life and a film critic since 1986 (my first published review was for "Platoon"). Since that time I have written for several news and entertainment publications in California, Utah and Idaho. Big fan of the Academy Awards - but wish it would go back to the five-minute dinner it was in May, 1929. A former member of the San Diego Film Critics Society and current co-host of "The Movie Guys," each Sunday afternoon on KOGO AM 600 in San Diego with Kevin Finnerty.

'Movie Review: Tomorrowland (2015)' have 11 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 22, 2015 @ 1:01 pm Opal

    It’s a kids oriented movie. Don’t expect something Interstellarly.

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 22, 2015 @ 1:22 pm Wes Case

    Dare to dream, is something I tell my children all the time to do and I thought Tomorrowland did a great job reinforcing that ideal. Pessimism, the feeling of futility and the loss of creativity should not to be accepted as the norm as it is today. People need to open up their eyes to the world around them before it actually is to late.

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 22, 2015 @ 1:47 pm JerseySweet

    So many bad early reviews-I’m really on the fence with this one…

  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 22, 2015 @ 2:14 pm foglight

    The movie had great potential. Third act was its killer.

  5. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 22, 2015 @ 2:30 pm Panthar

    This movie is the ultimate in bait and switch. From the trailers I expected to have an adventure in this wonderful retro-looking future world and I got to spend all of 15 minutes in it.

  6. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 22, 2015 @ 4:06 pm Doyle

    The story is a hot mess – Disney should stick to what they do best: princess movies.

  7. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 22, 2015 @ 6:47 pm TVTA

    I guess you could say there ain’t nothing tomorrowy about ‘Tomorrowland’.

  8. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 22, 2015 @ 11:11 pm Stream

    It panders exclusively to kids. Successful movies always have something in there for adults and I think they forget this piece .

  9. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 23, 2015 @ 1:24 am p0rt0bell0

    Brad Bird laid his first egg.

  10. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 23, 2015 @ 2:05 pm Mitch Summerhill

    Anyone else find it ironic a multinational corporation that contributes to the worsening of the future for profits today is championing this idealistic save the future mumbo-jumbo?

  11. The Critical Movie Critics

    February 19, 2016 @ 7:59 pm Miguel

    Wow, your critical really surprise me. You don’t understood the movie at all, and among many others, maybe believed that the movie was about gadgets, travel to the future and robots killing people in Tomorrowland. You mention back to the Future as a reference, but there is nothing to do with that kind of movie. Tomorrowland is an allegory, and I believe even Bird, who had a clear idea of the message, didn’t realize that he created an amazing and unique film. A movie that maybe later will be considered a Cult Classic, once people would see the message: a journey to the heart and will of the people, portrayed in a wonderful odyssey. Come on, there is no such thing like a city of the future in the movie or a travel to the future, there is no intention of doing that. And, about the performances, maybe you don’t know about the great quality of Britt Robertson, but her character has the precise charisma and strength that was necessary for the movie (if you know her in other roles, you will understand why she put that little histrionism. That was a gift from her to the audience)

    Tomorrowland was a beautiful and unique piece of the 7th art.

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