Director Brad Bird loves retro themes and images, as shown in his movies such as The Iron Giant and The Incredibles.  So he would seem to be the perfect person to direct (and co-write) Tomorrowland, a movie based on the 1960s version of a science fiction future and a Disneyland feature.  The results, though, are less than one would hope for.

Tomorrowland opens with Frank Walker (George Clooney) and teenager Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) recording a video, while a countdown winds down on some glass tubes.  We then get their backstories.  At the 1964 World's Fair, a very young Frank brought his homemade jetpack to a science contest.  Nix (Hugh Laurie) dismisses him, but a young British girl named Athena (Raffey Cassidy) believes in him and slips him a pin, which leads him to a futuristic place called Tomorrowland.

The movie then jumps to the present -- and Casey's story.  She's a science genius who lived with her father and little brother; her biggest hobby seems to be sabotaging a demolition team that's taking down a rocketship launch setup.  After she's arrested, her personal items now include a Tomorrowland pin -- and when she touches it she's seemingly transported to a futuristic paradise.

When the pin runs out of energy, Casey goes searching for any clue to where it comes from.  This leads to killer robots with laser weapons -- and Athena, who turns out to be a martial arts-performing robot herself.  She leads Casey to Frank, who wants nothing more to do with Tomorrowland.  But the killer robots are in hot pursuit, the reasons behind Frank's leaving are revealed, and naturally there's something threatening the whole planet...

Tomorrowland is alright, but it could have used a lot more of its fantastical technology that opens the movie.  The main characters are pretty one-dimensional (He's grumpy!  she's optimistic!) and there aren't many surprises or variations through the movie.  There are story problems (like why the robots casually kill people who come close to learning the truth -- and try to kill Frank and Casey -- but their murder is hardly the endgoal of their creators) and as many lulls as moments of excitement.  (At least a half hour could have been successfully trimmed from the movie.)  It's nice to see a movie where the protagonist is a female who loves science, but Tomorrowland would have benefited more if Brad Bird had let his love of fantasy fly more here.

Overall grade : B-
Reviewed by James Lynch

No comments: