Britt Robertson stars as Casey in “Tomorrowland,” the latest live action flick from Disney. Casey is a smart teenager who spends her nights trying to preserve a shuttle launch pad from being demolished. While her actions do eventually get her in trouble with the law, they also catch the attention of someone who invites her to Tomorrowland.
The invitation is given by Athena (Cassidy), an android in the form of a girl who is seeking dreamers to help save the future by way of Tomorrowland, a place full of the best and brightest that mankind has offered. To help get there, the two end up recruiting the help of Frank (Clooney), a former resident of Tomorrowland who was exiled.
Disney can’t seem to pull itself together lately on the live action front when it’s not about a classic property. The fourth “Pirates” movie fell flat, “John Carter” was a disaster and so was “The Lone Ranger.” While “Tomorrowland doesn’t reach the depths in terms of being bad that those other films did, it still has plenty of faults.
One of the reasons for this is the story which more or less spent two thirds meandering in an attempt to build up to Tomorrowland itself which is introduced in the third act. The biggest blow to the movie comes in that third act, where a dull, uninteresting climax occurs instead of a fascinating grand finale. The movie is more than two hours long and for its trump card, which basically was Tomorrowland itself, to be such a let down makes the first two acts that much worse.
Another issue with the film’s story is its heavy handed attempt to deliver a message. The filmmakers practically take a baseball bat of environmental messaging and whack the audience with it. It’s not as though I dislike having messages in films, either, I think they are important. However, the way to deliver them is with subtly and not with blatant attempts. To do it in ways that will make an audience think and not just right it off as being too preachy.
The film also suffers from a lackluster protagonist, despite a performance from Robertson that did have some good moments. Casey never truly shows why she’s the best choice to be chosen to go to Tomorrowland. She’s an optimist, but it’s not as though she’s the only one. She’s smart, but it’s not like she is the only one with brains. The biggest problem is that we hardly see her doing things that show her brilliance. Not that it would require her to be perfect, but it would have been interesting if she would have built or invented some things during her journey.
George Clooney’s performance was a bit hit or miss for me and I’m not sure he was exactly right for the role. While his acting was fine, there were some moments where it felt like his style of acting is better suited as the character he played in “Up in the Air” and not as an inventor who is a little off his rocker. That being said, Clooney is still an Oscar winner and there’s no doubt that his screen presence did make some of the scenes better.
One of the better performances in the movie came from Cassidy who played the android Athena. While some of the humor that she had was annoying from time to time, for the most part, she was on point through most of the film.
The biggest disappointment for “Tomorrowland” comes in the form of its spectacle, or lack there of. The movie lacked a real wow factor on many fronts. Its action scenes weren’t all that engaging, a space ship launch in the second act had a sort of ‘been there’ feel to it and Tomorrowland itself wasn’t the most memorable scifi/future city I’ve ever seen.
For the most part, “Tomorrowland” is usually average at best. Some of the acting was OK in certain parts, some of the humor was funny and the special effects certainly weren’t bad. The film simply didn’t excel at anything, though, suffering from a story that comes off rather lame as a whole. 2 out of 5.