George Clooney movies almost always have the same effect on me. I want to love them, but rarely ever do. Tomorrowland seemed like a movie made just for me. It promised adventure, retro sci-fi gadgetry, and science fiction action! While all of these things are present in the film, none of them really shine. After a promising first act, the movie steadily goes downhill. I didn’t particularly dislike the movie, but I definitely didn’t love it either.
Tomorrowland is at its best in the first thirty to forty minutes. This section tells the story of a brilliant teenage girl who is given a mysterious button that lets her glimpse a futuristic world. Watching her try to figure out the mystery of the button and find a way to this futuristic world is a lot of fun. The interaction between her and Clooney is great, as he’s a burnt out pessimist and she’s a wide-eyed optimist.
In a true example of the journey being better than the destination, Tomorrowland bottoms out once the characters actually make it to the futuristic dimension. What should’ve been a triumph of adventure and special effects is just boring instead. There’s nothing there that wows you or makes you smile; it’s just a generic futuristic city with generic futuristic elements.
It doesn’t help that the villain of the whole film stands on screen at this point for a good ten minutes spewing rhetoric about the evils of mankind and why humans deserve to die for ruining the earth and so on and so forth. Here’s the thing. I don’t hate the ideas and morals that the movie presents. We do live in unstable times and we should take care of our planet. What I mind is just how heavy handed the movie is with all of this stuff. And yes, it all comes from the villain, but he’s given a long, uninterrupted stretch of screen time to preach. If a movie can work in some good morals and high minded ideals naturally, then hey, go for it. But that’s not the case here. It’s heavy handed and unnecessary and really drags down what should’ve been a light, adventurous, fun movie.
There are some neat things in Tomorrowland. Some of the designs and retro-futuristic inventions are well thought out and interesting. But even these elements felt watered down, as if the filmmakers tried not to push the envelope or stretch the audience’s imagination. This feels particularly true in the Tomorrowland dimension, where aside from a few robots and hover cars, there’s really very little to be in awe of.
Tomorrowland is a great concept about a very imaginative world, and yet it really suffers from a lack of imagination. The movie plays it safe at every turn, wasting a great first act and delivering a watered down plot that doesn’t include much in the way of inventiveness and amazement. It’s a decent little film and one that younger kids will likely enjoy quite a bit, but this one’s not worth more than a rental.
TWO AND A HALF OUT OF FIVE STARS
This movie is rated PG for sequences of sci-fi action violence and peril, thematic elements, and language