Boy, this film really disappointed. At the box office, anyway. It was always something of an enigma. The first teaser trailers were stunning (young girl picks up a button, transported to a whiz-bang future world). But putting together a dynamite sizzle reel – that is, finding a few good but out of context visual images – by cherry-picking from a Brad Bird film has to be one of the easiest jobs in the world. Then, you had the fact that this was another Disney film based on a mainstay of the amusement park and honestly, how many times is that formula likely to work? On the other hand, you had Brad Bird directing, one of the great visual geniuses of our time. I have noticed, however, that his particular vision seems more suited for animation. I didn’t love his Mission Impossible movie, although it undeniably had some spectacular set pieces. Anyway, Tomorrowland could have been anything.
It ended up being a movie with some really great stuff, and some shitty stuff. The plot fizzles in the last third when it becomes a standard save the world cliché, and it finishes with a groan-worthy appeal to young people to go out and save the world. It’s like Disney was keeping this one in the hopper for a Michael Jackson cameo. But for all that it’s pretty great in the early going. The problem is the entire movie is about how Tomorrowland was a great dream, now deferred. The moments when our characters are allowed into Tomorrowland - or, what turns out to be some kind of virtual advertisement for it – and we see all this cool futuristic visual imagery are great. When the Eiffel Tower turns into a dimensional space rocket, eh, not so much. Then the movie gut-punches the audience by having the characters spend most of the film trying to get back to that cool world of Tomorrowland, only to find out it doesn’t really exist.
The strong lead roles for women were good, if you’re a feminist. The little ass-kicking girl robot was a standout, but the main character (played by Britt Robertson) alternated between spunky can-doer and idiotic wing-flapping moron. Her character was such a contradiction, driven to discover and invent and satisfy curiosity but when presented with the opportunity to do so she would panic and run and scream and do ridiculous things, only to come around in the end and save the world through the power of positive thinking. The story here was just really half-baked. Studio interference? Who knows. It wasn’t as bad as people made out or the box office suggests, and worth seeing for some of the gorgeous visuals, despite the uneven story and characters.
But really, a movie about Tomorrowland shouldn't just tease us with awesome, seductive images of Tomorrowland, then set most of the movie either on Earth or in some crappy failed dream of what Tomorrowland could have been. Poor form Disney!