It’s another sunny day on the front lines! I wonder what Nataku would think if he got a hold of Atsumori’s message…
Okay, now I’m going to go on a long rant about Tomorrowland, so let me explain why! You see, I was super excited to see Tomorrowland since it’s Brad Bird‘s second live action feature. Brad Bird, for those unfamiliar, is the director behind some of the most highly rated animated features in the last couple decades; Ratatouille, The Incredibles, and The Iron Giant. Every movie he’s directed has had over 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. He’s so well regarded that there was an online petition after Disney bought Lucasfilm to get Brad Bird to direct the new Star Wars film. His first live action film was Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, which was easily the best of the MI films, with a lot of great action set pieces and fun character moments. So I was pretty hyped for Tomorrowland. THEN I DISCOVERED HE CO WROTE IT WITH DAMON LINDELOF.
Damon Lindelof is screenplay poison. The guy is a master of writing nonsense, as far as I can tell. Screenplays he’s written include such greats as World War Z (which famously had nothing to do with the popular book it was supposedly based on), Star Trek Into Darkness (whose plot makes less sense the more you try to understand it), Prometheus (in which, again, nothing makes sense and scientists act like idiots and get killed), and LOST (the cultural phenomenon that raised so many intriguing questions and then copped out with a “they were dead the whole time!” explanation to invalidate a need for answers). I do not care for Lindelof’s writing, and so my expectations for Tomorrowland plummeted pretty sharply.
In the end, the movie’s somewhere in between great and awful, so I guess it’s OKAY. SPOILERS: The plot itself has some big holes, and although the movie spends a good amount of time at the beginning teasing the futuristic city of Tomorrowland, the main characters don’t actually reach it until close to the end, spending most of their time being chased around by humanoid robots. I think my biggest problem with the film, other than some uneven pacing, is that it’s message is exceedingly preachy while its story is rather muddled. It crams the message of “stay optimistic, work towards a better future” while at the same time not really having a story that reflects that mentality. In no way does working towards a better future and remaining optimistic help the main characters overcome any of the movie’s problems! In fact, the day is saved by a little girl robot who self destructs, blowing up a building that then crushes an evil Hugh Laurie, who’s already half crushed be a piece of debris from a previous explosion. A lot of things blow up in this movie, and there’s quite a bit of violence. It’s frustrating the characters didn’t have more constructive, less destructive solutions to better match the supposed theme of the film, which leads to another major problem, the lead character.
We’re introduced to a young boy who we immediately know grows up to be George Clooney because the intro is unnecessarily narrated to us by the boy’s older self. We’re then introduced to a teenage girl, who is supposed to be the true main character of the movie because she’s quickly established to be the chosen one who can prevent a future path where Earth goes all post apocalyptic. But in the end, the girl never really gets to shine, she’s never very proactive in the story, and the majority of the problem solving is left to Clooney. It reminded me of Jupiter Ascending, another film where the female lead spends all her time falling off of tall buildings and being saved.
Both of these problems could’ve been solved at the end of the film in a pretty simple way! We’re told a device that Clooney’s character created in Tomorrowland is sending out negative feelings and ideas that are affecting the people of Earth, and that will lead to the Earth’s apocalyptic future. They end up blowing this device up with the self destructing girl robot I mentioned earlier. The idea of what’s causing the coming apocalypse and how to ‘stop it with explosions‘ comes from the lead female character, which is her most proactive moment. But if she had instead thought “let’s use this device to send out positive, hopeful messages, like the one that got me excited to come to Tomorrowland in the first place!” Then the film could’ve had that constructive, feel good solution that it really needed so it could gel better with it’s in-your-face preachiness. It certainly would’ve saved my opinion of it, at least!
Tomorrowland isn’t all bad, though! George Clooney plays a great ‘bitter old guy’ trope. I did like a lot of the dialog, which was clever. I laughed out loud quite a bit, and if a movie can make me do that I can be pretty forgiving of its faults. I totally did not like how the film used a lot of cartoon physics for its action scenes, though. There are between eight and ten separate occasions where either main character should’ve died or received serious injury from a nasty fall or impact. Right at the beginning of the movie the young George Clooney character straps on a jet pack, and it misfires, sending him smashing multiple times into the ground and through a fence. It looks like it should kill him, but he doesn’t have a scratch, which pretty much eliminates any sense that the characters will ever be in danger. Maybe they did that because it’s a kids movie and they don’t want kids to worry? But, having been a kid, I can say that when characters are in danger I’m far more engaged in a story!
Anyway, I’m not sure how much I’d recommend Tomorrowland, as it is basically a bland kids movie. There is one sequence where the girl walks through the future city for several minutes. My eyes glued to the screen, soaking up the imaginative Land of Tomorrow. In that moment I could completely understand why the main character was so driven to get to that city. The first thing I said as we left the theater was “I wish that part had been the whole movie!”
Friday (5/29) at 9PM EDT, Joe and I are going to be online for a NN4B SMASH BROS NIGHT. Post your WiiU username in the comments and join in!Published on by Alex Kolesar