Being a huge of fan of Walt Disney World, I was very excited for “Tomorrowland.” I mean, it features George Clooney, and it’s directed by “The Incredibles” director Brad Bird. What could go wrong, right?
Disappointingly, “Tomorrowland” is a fun film, but it could and should have been so much better. This is a theme land from Walt Disney World and Disneyland that has been around for awhile. If you are going to take that land and make it into some sort of film, you better believe fans are going to have high expectations. This film has some very cool ideas, but the story is all over the place, making it for a mediocre Disney film.
Young Frank Walker (played by Thomas Robinson) is ready to show his jet pack invention at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City. He arrives at a table to show an official, Nix (played by Hugh Laurie), his design, but Nix is unimpressed with the fact that it cannot fly yet. However, Frank draws attention from a young girl named Athena (played by Raffey Cassidy), and she gives him a pin with a giant “T” on it and tells him to follow her. Franks listens to her advice and ends up traveling through another dimension to the future or Tomorrowland. There, his jet pack is fixed by some robots, and he ends up running into Nix and Athena.
The film shifts from there to present day, where we meet Casey (played by Britt Roberts). She dreams about working for NASA and going into space. Her father, Eddie (played by Tim McGraw) works as an engineer for NASA, but they plan to decommission the NASA launch pad in Cape Canaveral. So, Casey sneaks into the launch pad every night to sabotage the area.
Eventually Casey gets caught by security and ends up going to jail for a bit. When her stuff is returned, she finds a “T” pin that Athena had slipped into her stuff when her motorcycle was sitting outside her house. Casey tells the security officer that the pin is not hers, but when she touches it, she ends up seeing a whole new world that no one in the room, but her, can see.
Casey tries to explain the pin to the father and starts wonder if she is on drugs. She starts to research more on the pin and finds an ad that a Houston comic store is looking for the exact same pin. So she leaves for Houston and visits this comic store. When she arrives, she finds that the owners of the store (played by Keegan-Michael Key and Kathryn Hahn) are actually looking for the pin because they want to know about the little girl who gave it to her. Of course Casey has yet to meet Athena, so she has no idea what they are talking about, but Athena drops in to save Casey from them because they are robots trying to track down Athena.
So the films goes on, and Athena eventually explains some of the details to Casey, but not much. She takes Casey to meet the older Frank (Clooney) because Athena believes Casey can fix a problem that Frank made, having him exiled from ever returning to Tomorrowland. Frank is annoyed with the fact that Athena dropped Casey off at his place. He wants nothing to do with anyone and believes the problem he made cannot be fixed. But eventually gives in, and the two of them travel to Tomorrowland before the robots get to him, Athena and Casey.
George Clooney plays a very stiff, one note performance that is disappointing. I expected more out of him for such a big film, but it’s lackluster. Britt Robertson is okay as Casey, even though at times she does get annoying. She, too, seems to be playing something more one note. The saving grace is Raffey Cassidy, who delivers her dialogue quite well for such a young girl. She is charming, beautiful and interesting, but it’s not enough.
As for the ideas, there are some good ones here from Damon Lindelof (“Prometheus” “World War Z”) and Brad Bird’s screenplay, playing off of Disneyland/World elements that will make fans happy. However, the problem is the story itself. The narrative is wanky and unfocused, making it for a confusing film at times. I thought the “problem” that Frank created was never explained in a way that most audience members will understand. I also didn’t understand why Casey was the chosen one to help them fix the problem. Where did this come from? What makes her such a genius?
I do have to say the direction from Brad Bird is pretty sharp and fast-paced, even if it doesn’t live up to his brilliant Pixar film “The Incredibles.” He does have an eye for action and imagination, but I do believe his vision here could have been better. It just didn’t take me to that level of excitement that I wanted to feel.
“Tomorrowland” is a mediocre film with some cool visual effects. Unfortunately, the story line is confusing at times and lacks solid characters. It’s too bad because I was ready for another excellent film from Brad Bird. Rated PG.