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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Movie Review - Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland (2015)
Starring George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie, Raffey Cassidy, Tim McGraw, Kathryn Hahn, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Robinson, Pierce Gagnon, and Judy Greer
Directed by Brad Bird

As a devoted Disney fan, it pains me to say that Tomorrowland is a big piece of trash.  As the first hour of the Brad Bird directed and co-written film came and went, I found myself asking the question out loud, "What is the story here?"  Seriously, an hour in, I felt like I was still sitting through an incredibly repetitive expositional phase with the film aimlessly meandering, completely failing to progress its story in any way.  Not a good start to an ambitious film that I wanted to like (in part because it's an original cinematic idea in a sea of big budget sequels), but found truly disappointing.

The film begins with a young boy named Frank (Thomas Robinson) showcasing his jetpack invention to an unimpressed judge (Hugh Laurie) at the 1964 World's Fair.  However, a young girl named Athena (Raffey Cassidy) sees potential in Frank, gives him a special orange and blue pin, and tells him to follow her onto the It's a Small World ride at the fair.  Frank obliges and, thanks to the pin that is scanned while on the ride, the young boy is transported to a futuristic city called Tomorrowland.

Cut to present day and teenage activist and optimist Casey (Britt Robertson) is arrested for attempting to stop the dismantling of NASA's Cape Canaveral space shuttle launching bay.  When she picks up her belongings from her short hours-long stint in jail, she sees the same pin orange and blue pin that transported young Frank to Tomorrowland.  When she grabs the pin, Casey is instantly taken to the futuristic land, but when she tries to show her father (Tim McGraw) the pin's magic, she realizes that no one but she can travel to Tomorrowland.  Completely confused by the pin which has now lost its battery life and refuses to work, Casey goes on a journey to try and find out about the pin which causes her to meet up with Athena and curmudgeonly Frank (now played as an adult by George Clooney) who wants nothing to do with Tomorrowland after he was banished decades ago for challenging the authorities there.

As I type this summary out, I actually find myself intrigued by the premise...unfortunately, that aforementioned story stretches itself out over nearly seventy minutes, repeating itself over and over again with extended sequences that showcase some decent special effects, but do nothing to progress the story.  It also doesn't help that in the final act, the denouement feels silly and too "up with people" to really have any impact.  As Casey and Frank try and figure out how to use Tomorrowland to their advantage, I found their ramblings incomprehensible -- although, admittedly, I had checked out at that point and my lack of interest most likely led to the unintelligible aspects of the plot.  Brad Bird and his co-writers Damon Lindelof and Jeff Jensen really dropped the ball with this one.  There was maybe potential for a franchise here (and Clooney and Robertson are both game and by far the best parts of the movie), but Tomorrowland is really a painfully awful big budget flick.

The RyMickey Rating:  D-

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