DIR: Brad Bird • WRI: Brad Bird, Damon Lindelof • PRO: Brad Bird, Jeffrey Chernov, Damon Lindelof • DOP: Claudio Miranda • ED: Walter Murch, Craig Wood • DES: Scott Chambliss • MUS: Michael Giacchino • CAST: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie
I was excited when I saw the trailer for Tomorrowland: A World Beyond. It was a short teaser showing the lead character, Casey (Britt Robertson) picking up a strange totem and being transported to this mysterious utopia, with George Clooney laying down the voice-over.
Brad Bird, fresh from his successful first foray into live-action film making with Ghost Protocol, as the director, and a perfectly weighted teaser along with some great casting, this was something to get excited about.
And after the big wait it turned out to be disappointment, as things like this often do in the current age.
The story follows the main character, a NASA engineer’s daughter, coming across the badge she doesn’t recognize, which introduces her to the titular Tomorrowland. A future-scopic metropolis where the inhabitants are hand-picked based on their longing for progression rather than power. Innovation and invention are the sole tools of society but, like every modern vision of the future, those ideals are eroded through the inert nature of the present.
It’s a kids’ movie. It might be that Brad Bird’s inherently colorful sensibility just makes the hifalutin ideas put forward in Tomorrowland a bit difficult to take in. Damon Lindelof is the writer (Star Trek), and his script – which was reworked by Bird – presents some really interesting concepts but might not be palatable for its target audience. That’s not to imply that kids are thick or anything, but for once, Brad Bird – the outstanding family movie director of today – seems all too unaware of that fact himself.
The writing is sketchy, platitudes and bon mot’s are interwoven with light-hearted quips that just don’t land often enough. Themes like perseverance are dealt with using ham-fisted and clunky dialogue with a rousing sound track. Don’t get me wrong, I ate that stuff up when I was younger but I have accomplished nothing on the back of it. So what purpose does it serve?
As for the actual narrative itself, well, like some of Lindelof’s most prominent past credits – namely Lost and Prometheus, Tomorrowland starts out promisingly before getting tangled in its own ideas towards the end.
This movie should be amazing. And I do hope its target audience thinks that it is. But a director with such broad blockbuster appeal, and a cast with George Clooney in it – who is utterly forgettable in this – should give me something more. Perhaps I’m just bitter that I’m not of the age to enjoy this idyllic froth when I’m too worried about whether I’m registered to vote. Maybe I’m just too old to care, like George Clooney in this very movie.
12A (See IFCO for details)
Tomorrowland: A World Beyond is released 22nd May 2015