The first time that I saw the trailer for Tomorrowland, I had incredibly high hopes. I was excited, mainly because Disney was finally making something other than a sequel or reboot – a brand new story with brand new characters.
Anyone that has talked to me about movies for more than ten minutes knows how I feel about the lack of new material in Hollywood, and I thought that this could be a chance to show the people in charge that something other than Frozen 7 could be successful. That being said, I was sorely disappointed with the final outcome of this film. It was nice, but not good and definitely not great enough to make the point I was hoping it would. In the end, Tomorrowland had enormous potential that it quite frankly failed to reach.
From the moment this film began, opening with a cringe-worthy introductory sequence, I was disheartened. Much of the dialogue and general elements in Tomorrowland gave the distinct feeling of “trying a bit too hard.” This film did not need to be a frame story, and I would have much preferred it had it not been. The bookend, “present-day” sequences that sandwich a two-hour flashback were probably my two least favorite parts in the entire movie. To be quite honest with you, this structure made the whole film feel clichéd and annoyingly so.
Frank Walker (George Clooney) bears a close resemblance to every other grumpy old man in cinema from the past fifty years. He holds a grudge against childhood crush and actual robot Athena (Raffey Cassidy) for enough years to make it disconcerting rather than heartwarming.
One of the biggest issues with this film is that Tomorrowland practically drowns you in its message. Watching this film feels almost like listening to George Clooney and company sermonize passionately and messily all over the place. While it will feel preachy to adults, I believe that children could feel almost aggressively confronted by this. We all get it: we should be taking better care of the world we live in. However, the way this is depicted is sloppy and confusing, making it unclear if bad guy of the hour, Nix (Hugh Laurie), was actually trying to help the people of Earth after all. His motives are unclear, and for a movie that is desperately trying to be for children, not nearly black-and-white enough.
Athena is actually one of the best characters in this film. Cassidy does a brilliant job with portraying the robot in the body of a young girl as wise yet still with a sense of childishness. She and the teenage computer genius Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) are the only characters out of the main cast who actually feel like they belong in a Sci-Fi children’s movie. Their interactions are amusing and their intentions are nothing but good for the entirety of the film, making them less than fascinating characters but also far more cleanly written than Walker and Nix.
As much as I can bash it, the message of this movie is very important for children to understand. The wolf analogy is a tried and true one that teaches us to nurture goodness within ourselves so that the world can be good as a whole, and it is the most concise message in the film. However, I feel like the writers for Tomorrowland made a bad decision when they started throwing too many conclusions into their script. Save the environment, be a good person, help save the world, etc., etc. When it comes to making a movie for children, and even sometimes adults, one clear message will always be better than a handful of adequate and sloppy ones.
Watch the trailer for Tomorrowland here: