You know that feeling of awe you get when you visit Disney Land (or World) for the first time? That feeling of amaze and wonder? If not, it's a feeling of immense happiness and joy, and a similar feeling a five year old gets at the sight of sugar. When you first lay eyes on Tomorrowland, not the movie but the actual place, a similar feeling occurs. It's here, in the opening twenty or so minutes, where Tomorrowland (this time I'm talking about the movie) shows us what's in stall, all while showing just about as much as the trailers do, and to respect that, I'm going to give away as little about this film as possible.
We follow the story of young teenager, Casey Newton (Britt Robertson). After running into a spot of trouble with the law, Casey ends up spending an afternoon in prison, only to be bailed out by her dad (Tim McGraw). When getting back her stuff, Casey is given a mysterious pin that she doesn't own. The guard not wanting to take it back, Casey picks it up. Upon touching it, she's taken to a weird and magical world, except this world only appears when holding onto the pin and only she can see it. After her visit expires, Casey goes searching for the only person who knows what the hell she's going on about: Frank Walker (George Clooney). Together, they try to travel to Tomorrowland. And that's all you get. That's about as much of the plot as you need to know before seeing this movie.
I wasn't quite as excited for this movie as everyone else was. Don't get me wrong, after that initial teaser trailer I was ecstatic, but then the second trailer came along and I became somewhat less excited. But my faith in Brad Bird as a director kicked in and I pushed all the negativity aside, stopped watching footage and pre booked my tickets because why not? Then the hate train wheeled in and this film took a beating, which didn't take me by that much of a surprise. Still, I was eager. As I sat down in the cinema and watched the magic unfold, I became reminded of why I go to the movies. I remembered what it was I love about cinema, and that's a feeling I didn't think would come out of me after watching this movie.
It's not a perfect movie, and I'll get into why shortly, but it just made me happy. It's a constant delight for its entire two and a bit hour runtime and I can only imagine how much better it would've been to go see this film in IMAX. There's a constant sense of amazement and bewilderment as we're taken on this magical and visually stunning journey. Brad Bird can direct. He's shown us that with his previous films and he's shown us again with Tomorrowland. He knows how to make a damn good looking movie and there's not one film of his that I do not like. He brings the five year old in me out and I'm okay with that.
Narratively speaking, the film is a bit everywhere. It starts out in one place and ends at another, but it's never not entertaining. It's storytelling is a mess and the ending makes absolutely no sense, but because of Brad Bird's excellent direction and the three lead performances, it didn't phase me that much. Every component of this film works, except for the damn script. If the script was anywhere close to being as good as the visuals then Tomorrowland could've been a great movie. Instead, we have a good one, and yes, I would see myself watching it again, flaws and all.
But the performances. Let's talk about those. The three leads, yes three, are all excellent. Britt Robertson is a nobody who just became a somebody. She's likeable, can actually act and brings humanity to her character, despite some lines of dialogue coming across as a bit un-human-y. Then there's George Clooney, and like always, he's brilliant. That man is incapable of giving a bad performance and Tomorrowland is not his falling point. Then finally, there's Raffey Cassidy, who's character I won't be discussing in that much detail. All I'll say is that she is excellent in her role and I hope to see more of her in other films too.
My final comment is on the film's message, and this is again a critique of the film's script. It's not that the message is bad or that I don't agree with it, as a matter of fact I really like the message and I do agree with it. The film just really hammers it in, discussing it every single chance it can. We get it, okay. The world's a terrible place. No need to keep reminding us to change it every few minutes. Unfortunately, they do see the need, and so that's what we're given. Like I said, if it weren't for the script then we could have a damn good movie on our hands. Oh, and on a side note, I like Universal Studios more than I do Disney Land. Sorry everybody.
To sum up, Tomorrowland is a visually stunning movie with great performances and great direction. It manages to create a constant sense of awe and wonder, despite having a rather messy screenplay and a nonsensical ending.
3 1/2 Stars