I tried to skate around spoilers as much as possible, but I fear that I have failed. Apologies. I hope you enjoy this review anyway! 🙂
Going into Tomorrowland, I was uncertain. I’d heard the mixed reviews, and while I was certain I’d enjoy the first portion of the movie, I was also afraid the ending would leave me disappointed. This was true, in a way, but not in the way I’d imagined.
For the major portion of the movie, I enjoyed the story, the acting, the themes, etc. In short: Tomorrowland is basically about the human struggle between wondrous hope and pessimistic despair.
I gathered from the trailers that “Tomorrowland” was some super-advanced city, and it promised to be a wonderful, wonderful place, filled with bustling activity and undreamt of technologies. However, somewhere along the way, something went terribly wrong, and it’s somehow connected to the end of the world. They even have a doomsday countdown clock ticking away, and there’s not much time left on it.
Enter our three main characters, Frank, Casey, and Athena, played by George Clooney, Britt Robertson, and Raffey Cassidey. All three actors did a phenomenal job in their roles, by the way, and it’s no small thing for a thirteen-year-old to hold her own alongside a veteran of Clooney’s caliber. I loved these three. Whatever the themes of this movie and the artistic choices made in advancing said themes, it’s these three characters who made the movie work. They had plenty of support from the minor characters, including the antagonist played by Hugh Laurie, but Tomorrowland ultimately belongs to the main trio.
This is their struggle, their conflict between the demands of hope and the ease of despair, and they bring all of humanity along for the ride.
Everyone else around them has, as they say in the movie, given up. Tim McGraw’s character has given up his dreams, the high school teachers are all preaching doom and gloom, and Tomorrowland itself, particularly under the rule of Laurie’s character, has given up on the rest of the human race. Even Frank has given up, and Athena is just going through the motions to the bitter end. Only Casey still has hope, even in the face of overwhelming knowledge and evidence the world is about to end. That spark is what gives hope to the rest of the cast, and when all three choose, in the face of everything, including the doomsday clock, to not give up, that is when they’re able to share that hope with the rest of the world.
It always comes down to individual choice. Whatever life throws at us, it’s our choice whether we give up or keep going. We choose, on some level, to either stay knocked down, or get up again and again. It’s our choice, and that choice can change the world.
For that message, and for the characters, I like this movie.
My only complaint, really, is the story. I mean, for the first major portion of Tomorrowland, we were given an enjoyable, well-crafted narrative with strong themes of thriving dreams on one side and broken dreams on the other. We had enjoyable characters finding themselves in unexpected situations, strange and dangerous, with killer robots pursuing the heroes. Then, towards the end… it was like they had all of this material and just weren’t sure how to wrap it up nice and neat. The ending felt a bit disconnected from the rest of the film, really, like things sort of petered out and the happy ending happened and the bad guy got his… just because.
I mean, there are at least two ways in which the story fell apart.
First, there was the group of humans who retreated from the rest of the world (already giving up on them) in order to invent and build their wondrous city free from politics and such. As that is just part of the human condition, it was ridiculous to assume it could work. Add in the killer robots, and I thought it didn’t work, so the robots had taken over and destroyed the human paradise and such. In fact, when we first see Tomorrowland as it has become, the incredible lack of a formerly-dense population amidst the skyscrapers reminded me of a skeleton. But that didn’t go anywhere, and the murders the robots committed willy-nilly were never commented on again.
Second, they figure out that at least part of why the world is going to end is because Tomorrowland is inadvertently beaming that thought into everyone’s heads on a subconscious level. Casey has an advantage over the entire world because she is able to face it on a conscious level, and therefore fight it head-on. But instead of, say, changing the message into a subconscious hope beam, which is what I thought they were going to do, and what I thought they were doing with the entire narration of the film, they just blew up the broadcasting device. And then the world didn’t destroy itself… just because.
So, while Tomorrowland is a good movie, with great acting, stunning visual effects, and a strong theme I happen to like very much, and a story that started out strong, it falls far short of being a great movie. It’s enjoyable, family friendly, and I do largely recommend it.
Rating: 8 stars out of 10.