I feel as though with the release of behemoth titles such as Avengers and Mad Max, Tomorrowland kind of got buried in the chaos and was forgotten by most. The turnout on an opening night at my theatre was more than a little disappointing, with a couple of tired parents and their hyperactive children spread sparsely throughout the room.
Tomorrowland is the future. Actually, it’s what we hope the future will be. No corruption, no greed, no evil. The city is built on the shoulders of dreamers and inventors, reaching towards the limitless heavens with their progressive and forward-thinking ways.
Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) is a teenage genius. Growing up with her head in the stars, she’s always believed that humans needed to push themselves to learn, to explore the great beyond. Alas, the world she lives in doesn’t have the same optimism she has. Surrounded by people preoccupied with death and destruction, she can only watch helplessly as the world slowly drives itself off a cliff.
After a skirmish with the law involving breaking into a secure NASA facility to prevent the take-down of a launch platform, she comes into the possession of a mysterious pin. A pin that magically transports her to Tomorrowlan – a beautiful, sprawling world full of opportunities and wonder. The pin leads her to discover the past, and what exactly Tomorrowland is.
Frank Walker was a young inventor with a genius IQ and a heart of gold. Looking to inspire with his creations, he enters the 1965’s World’s Fair to present his homemade jet pack to David Nix (Hugh Laurie), a stern-faced judge. David is initially unimpressed, but a young girl, Athena (Raffey Cassidy) is moved and recruits him for Tomorrowland.
Years pass, and Frank becomes disenchanted with Tomorrowland’s warping view of the world. He is exiled back to Earth, but not before creating a see-all device that could mean the apocalypse for the Earthlings in the wrong hands cough*David Nix*cough. Athena is soon exiled as well, and spends the next several years trying to find the one person who can save the world… Casey.
There was no shortage of wonderment, I can tell you that much. Although the effects got a little Polar Express-y at times(especially during the jet pack scenes), for the most part, it was a stunning movie, and they did a great job of creating a beautiful and believable Tomorrowland. Extra points for being shot in Vancouver, but don’t get your hopes up just yet…
Even with all its razzle and dazzle, it couldn’t hide the fact that the story was shoddily written and poorly executed, filled with repetitive and corny dialogue, entire scenes that were wholly unnecessary, and vastly disappointing character arcs. And it wasn’t even funny. There were some half-witted attempts at humor, but even with mostly kids in the theatre, the audience was dreadfully silent throughout the film. The only time anyone made any noise was when Keegan-Michael Key made a dramatic entrance as a dreadlock-wearing hippie, murderous robot. Which, unsurprisingly, was hilariously out of place for an otherwise super unfunny movie.
What was the most ridiculous was the sheer, debilitating optimism that the film shone at our faces for the most part of the movie. There was a montage of Casey attending classes, where all the teachers are browbeating the kids to death with dystopian literature, scary natural disasters, and even scarier man-made disasters. She waves her hand around and pipes up, “What can we do to fix it?”
David Nix goes on a typical evil villain monologue towards the end of the film, but touches upon something that actually resounded with me. He said that humans are so preoccupied with the death and destruction, delighting in the thought of an upcoming apocalypse. Why?Because it requires less of them today. Who needs to think of how to be sustainable, to gift a better world to the future inhabitants, when it’s easier to just kick back, relax, and wait for the sun to explode?
It’s a bit cheesy, what the answer to Casey’s question is, but it’s a simple one at that. You just have to be optimistic. As if everyone in the world stopped what they were doing and said “Hmm, maybe I won’t be an asshole today” all of our problems will miraculously go away. Gee whiz! What an easy fix! *sarcasm*
Oh, Brad Bird. What happened? I feel like this project slipped away from you faster than an oiled rat and morphed into the disappointing lovechild of Elysium and Spy Kids. Not even a director like you could have saved it. Better luck next time, buddy.