My thoughts regarding Tomorrowland.
I went into the theater with low expectations. I read the reviews, and although they were mixed, there was one common refrain: at least it was original, and not a sequel, remake, or reboot. And the consensus is wrong.
To their credit, Disney has never billed this film as an “original.” It is no more original as the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. This is one of the very few films in recent years in which I liked the trailer. I liked the fact it was spoiler-free. It turns out the lack of details was more than just building suspense and mystery, it was to hide its mediocrity.
I don’t even mind that the concept of “the city of the future” is the oldest sci-fi movie trope. (Metropolis, anyone?) My issue is that the concept of the best and brightest going into self-exile has already been done before … twice. And here is some positive news: Tomorrowland is much, much better movie than the recent Atlas Shrugged trilogy. It would have been a better movie, (but absolutely not a Disney movie) had the movie continued its journey down the dark side, and became Bioshock: The Movie.
Forgive my poor grammar in favor of ‘net parlance, but jaded cynical George Clooney is best Clooney. I guess people expected and wanted the optimistic Clooney we saw in the trailer. I enjoyed the character arc of Frank Walker rediscovering his passion for discovery and optimism. It’s good that he brought his “A” game; for co-star Britt Robertson apparently did not. As the main antagonist, Hugh Laurie was underutilized. I suppose both he and Director Brad Bird didn’t want the character David Nix to resemble too much like Dr Gregory House, but the movie could have used a Dr House as an Andrew Ryan-type villain.
As much as a disliked the character of Casey Newton, I do sympathize with her schooling. I also attended public schools, and had similar type of teachers that weren’t very good at teaching.
I loved the “Blast from the Past” shop in Houston. Had I known of its existence while I lived in Houston, I would have spent a lot time hanging out in that store.
On the other hand, the movie had big plot holes. Not as large as Atlas Shrugged, but holes nonetheless. Take the drive Athena and Casey make going from Houston, Texas, to Frank’s house in Pittsfield, NY. You’re telling me two underage looking kids (all right, one robot that looks like a minor, and a 25 year-old playing a 17 year-old) are driving 24+ hours non-stop across at least 5 state lines in a stolen pickup truck with a broken rear window, and no one noticed this?! At least Athena had the sense to finally ditch the truck once they got to New York.
The film’s main audience is children from ages 4 to 10. But the secondary target audience is anyone that has ever read “Atlas Shrugged,” played the “Bioshock” games, or ever the heard the song “Anna Ng” by They Might Be Giants. I’ve done all three. So I had fun at the multiplex, riffing the movie. For all of its pomp, it is surprisingly an average, barely passable motion picture. The action sequences are nowhere near the league of Mad Max: Fury Road, and the visuals aren’t on par with When Marnie was There. But it is not as horrible as certain critics suggest either. My grade: a “C+“