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Monday, May 25, 2015

Director Brad Bird turned down the chance to direct Star Wars Episode VII because he wanted to do an original story with the movie Tomorrowland. I completely applaud Bird and his dedication to originality and the trailers got me very excited to see this movie. I thought we were going to see a well-designed sci-fi romp that featured secret spaceships and faraway lands. I mean, the Pirates of the Caribbean movies were entertaining stories based on a Disney ride, so a movie based on an entire segment of the Disneyworld theme park had to be something really special, right?

From what I can gather, the budget for this movie was $190 million and with the visual effects and elaborate sets, it looks like Disney got their money’s worth. But Brad Bird’s desire to tell an original story and Disney’s huge budget did not come together to create a great movie. This is one of those movies worth seeing once, maybe on cable television, but that is about it. I am sorry to say that Tomorrowland does not even come close to living up to its hype.

For me, the movie was more tedious than wondrous. Where Mad Max: Fury Road was non-stop action from start to finish, this was all-stop action from start to finish. The previews for Tomorrowland made it look like we were going to see adventures from all over the world that culminated in a fantastic adventure in a futuristic place called Tomorrowland. First of all, the place in the future is referred to more as “the Future” than Tomorrowland, which kind of takes away the wonder of it all. Secondly, there are blasts of great adventure from time to time, but the movie falls woefully short of adventurous expectations.

The script is all over the place as well. It is incredibly difficult to follow what is supposed to be going on and some of the more important plot elements are also a bit difficult to understand. People are seeing a futuristic place, but they are still confined to their own world. You may feel like you are standing in an open field, but when you walk forward you slam into the wall that is right in front of you in the room you were just standing in. It is all very confusing and difficult to grab ahold of.

The biggest problem I had with the story is in trying to figure out the point of the film. There was a lot of stuff happening and androids chasing humans, but why? And how did the androids know where the humans were that they were looking for? And who sent the androids? The main bad guy had no idea who the hero girl was until he met her towards the end of the movie, yet the bad guy’s goons were trying to kill the girl for half the movie. Why?

Without going into a long, long list of questions, let me just say that Tomorrowland is a confusing and mostly boring movie. I did enjoy watching it because, as with most Disney movies, it is a fun spectacle to watch at least once. But, as with the movie John Carter, this Disney movie just does not hold together from beginning to end. It is incoherent in spots and disjointed to the point where I honestly did not understand where it was headed.

For a Disney movie, this film is extremely edgy and selfish. The entire premise of the film, as far as I can tell, is that Tomorrowland wants to steal the best and brightest minds from our dimension and use those minds to build its own future. I have never seen a Disney movie turn its back on humanity like this one did.

However, the idea of turning backs on humanity was the one theme that did shine through in this movie. The idea that the human race is doomed and the very best of the best deserve a place to escape to is loud and clear. You will have to decide for yourself whether or not you agree with that. For me, I would rather see the best and brightest minds we have working on our problems instead of being whisked away to a Disney utopia. Hugh Laurie gives a speech towards the end of the film that I felt was spot on and helped to enhance the notion that the Disney Corporation is turning its back on the future of humanity with this movie. It is a disturbing idea, especially when it comes from the “Happiest Place on Earth.”

Disney really explores the idea that mankind revels in its own destruction, as opposed to fearing it. There are a lot of people angry with Tomorrowland for being preachy and condescending and they are probably not wrong. However, there is a lot of truth in what Hugh Laurie’s character says at the end of the movie and that entire theme of the self-induced destruction of mankind is the one thing that stuck with me from Tomorrowland.

Now let’s talk quickly about the extremely controversial and uncomfortable scene between George Clooney’s character and Raffey Cassidy’s character. Cassidy is playing a robot in the form of a 12-year-old girl and Clooney’s character falls in love with Cassidy’s character when they first meet. But when they first meet, Clooney’s character is maybe nine or 10 years old, so the love affair is cute when it starts. But when it picks up again 30 years later, Clooney’s character is approaching 40 and Cassidy’s character is still 12 years old. The results are uncomfortable.

In the context of the movie, the scene should make sense. When there is that brief moment when Clooney’s 40 year old character looks like he will lovingly kiss Cassidy’s 12 year old character, I have to admit that I tensed up. It was handled very well by the actors and the movie itself, but it is still a moment that you probably will not forget.

All in all, Tomorrowland falls well short of the hype in several areas. If you like seeing movies at the drive-in, then this one is not bad. But if you are looking for another fun Disney movie along the lines of the Pirates movies, then you will be sadly disappointed.

Rating: 2 out of 5

+George N Root III is a drive-in fanatic who can watch just about anything at the drive-in. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or send him an email at

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