Critics rating: 1.5 Stars
Cast: George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, Thomas Robinson, Tim McGraw, Kathryn Hahn, Keegan-Michael Key.
Direction: Brad Bird
Produced: Brad Bird, Damon Lindelof, Jeffrey Chernov
Written: Damon Lindelof, Brad Bird, Jeff Jensen.
Duration: 130 Mins
The world is about to end in 58 days and its fate lies in the hands of an unrelenting, annoying teenager. Things seem dystopian already. The film wants you to believe that Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) is a spunky, science nerd. ‘Spunky’ devolves somewhere and becomes ‘childish’. We get a character establishing moment but no further on Casey’s skills.
She is hunted by the forces of Governor Nix (Hugh Laurie) for being a dreamer but that attribute (and several others) remain unutilised. The doers who move the plot along are Frank Walker (George Clooney) and Athena (Raffey Cassidy), a nifty piece of artificial intelligence.
They go back a long way to the New York World’s Fair in 1964, when Frank was a plucky kid with ideas and Athena sensed the potential of a dreamer.It was a good piece of characterisation that does not find resonance with any part, least of all the teenage lead. She is a dreamer because she is optimistic, a trait reiterated when she is in a sunny mood until she is not, anymore.
Without spoiling a thin plot entirely, it will suffice to reveal that the Eiffel Tower is not all that it is projected to be. (It makes sense. When unveiled, it was considered an unsightly installation).
There is a countdown for doomsday, an alternate world (which is a not-so-subtle metaphor), numerous nods to the heroine being special (if you say so, dear makers) and absolutely uninspiring moments between characters. Frank and Athena are so well-prepared for any eventuality, they never need to deviate from Plan A. Casey gapes at the slightest thing of wonder, as if prompting the audience to follow suit. She seems bewildered by almost everything and needs to coax her companions into repeating their words when they address her.
The only impressive moment in the film is the scene that introduces to us Tomorrowland. We get to know very little about the pin through which the dreamers can witness the place. Perhaps this is not the film to ask those questions.
But do not let any teaser con you into believing that you are in for a frenetic, visually-stunning treat where a bunch of oddballs save the world. This is not that film either, despite holding the promise with a few good fight scenes yet coming apart since it is not tight enough to hold your attention.Also, Keegan-Michael Key and Kathryn Hahn are wasted in silly guest appearances.
It may appeal to the young uns. It may cater to your inner child. But Tomorrowland is too blatant and cute to work in a world as cynical as it acknowledges it to be. Saving planet Earth is not the most original of stories. Neither this film nor the similarly-themed Jupiter Ascending makes the journey a satisfying one.