I went into Tomorrowland knowing full well it would probably disappoint. I was in Washington, D.C. and it was really hot and I was tired and my feet were bruised and blistered and my brother said he was interested in the movie and I’ve seen and enjoyed every other Brad Bird movie and… Look, there is no excuse. I just wanted to believe that ever critic in the world was wrong. I mean, this trailer looks fun, doesn’t it?
A movie about a bright, precocious young girl teaming up with a cynical old inventor, running from evil robots, using all sorts of weird gizmos and contraptions? Sounds like a blast! And honestly, sounds like a fitting next move from the guy who made The Incredibles and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Sadly, that sequence of them escaping from the robots is easily the best part of the whole film, and things go downhill remarkably quickly after that.
Britt Robertson is Casey, the extremely tech-savvy daughter of a NASA engineer, who spends her nights sabotaging the machines that will be used to dismantle the launchpad her dad works at. This attracts the attention of a Athena (Raffey Cassidy) an animatronic little girl who recruits Casey to go to Tomorrowland. To do that, she has to team up with Frank (G. Cloo), a bitter recluse who would rather go just about anywhere else. But shit is going down (a la that trailer) so the adventure happens.
There’s a part in this movie when Hugh Laurie’s character gives a speech about modern times. He talks about all the threats we’re facing in the real world – the environment, overpopulation, dwindling resources – and how frustrating it is that people seemingly would rather sit back and embrace the apocalypse because their lazy and it means not having to change anything now. It’s an incredibly on-the-nose moment that I agree with but is wholly inappropriate for both the movie we just sat the first two acts of and any movie based on a Disney attraction.
Seriously, the third act here is such a mess that it’s message of hope is wasted. The fun gadgets disappear and we start getting the backstory of Tomorrowland (something about 19th century scientists and alternate dimensions) which is just a total bummer. Plus it’s not like the ride up until that point was that great either – it felt like it took way too long for Casey and Frank to finally meet, and Athena disappears and reappears a couple times just to drag things out further. There is a part with Kathryn Hahn and Keegan-Michael Key as the owners of a nerd store, but even that’s not great.
Tomorrowland, I’m with you. It sucks that NASA doesn’t get more funding. It sucks that there are so many people who seem excited about the end-times (I mean, a show called Doomsday Preppers is popular). It’s frustrating that it doesn’t feel like another effort is being put into solving problems like climate change. But you can’t just yell at me about being hopeful and expect that to mean anything. You have to inspire me by showing how hard work can change things. Instead, the way the day is saved in this movie is by suicide bombing. What kind of message is that?