There is a point in director Brad Bird’s (Ratatouille) Tomorrowland, where a young child selectively spouting exposition threatens to shut down immediately if our hero Cassie Newton (Britt Robertson) keeps asking questions. Such is the modus operandi of co-screenwriter Damon Lindelof (Lost, Prometheus). At that point sometime after the first act I worried and was later proven correct, that this movie isn’t really about anything, isn’t going anywhere, and all these grand ideas presented to us weren’t going to be answered.
The film, spectacularly shot in a retro futuristic style akin to Bird’s previously animated films; The Incredibles and Iron Giant means to evoke a utopic wonder. Looking at the opening sequence I marveled at how in its lighting the film manages to look simultaneously like the past and the future. Bird stages some of his set pieces with the frantic cut pace of his previous film Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, but the writing doesn’t give him much of a leg to stand on and it all means so little as we do not know what our heroes (a cranky George Clooney in tow) are actually chasing/ fighting for.
To his credit Damon Lindelof in response to culturally saturated dystopic futures of young adult lore said he wanted to reform a more positive outlook for society and to his detriment as co-writer Bird also shares some blame. They do to some extent achieve optimism with the opener and brief teases in the first act, but far too much of the screen time is spent getting there and by the time we do [I must admit, for my most anticipated movie of the year] I was bored, and my father was falling asleep.
**Spoiler Territory– For its own namesake very little of the film is spent in “Tomorrowland”. When we get there it is broken and dystopic just as I had feared. After a loadful of third act exposition and a few more half-baked ideas tossed around the film rushes to a climax before ending with a smug tease of a future that likely will not come because by that point, the film has wasted so much of the audience’s time, I suspect they will not return enough in the future. People wonder why there aren’t many new ideas. It’s because they have to be fully formed, and ones like these go nowhere, fast, and in all directions. No more questions? It’s because you don’t have any answers. The shutdown thing was a lie by the way and a cheat to the audience.
Rating: 5 out of 10 for promise. Kids that I saw it with loved it and they are the future!