Movie Review - Tomorrowland

I get the point of this movie. It's a liberal, rallying cry to promote science and fight against things like political strife and climate change aka global warming. It's also a general boosting for children to never give up on their dreams. Ultimately, it lands on the side of optimism about the future and that war and pollution won't ravage the Earth. The movie hopes that humans will come up with ideas or technology to make life better.

That being said, I don't get the point of the titular city where the majority of the narrative takes place. Tomorrowland is a futuristic city that exists in a different dimension that certain people can visit to live and work. The point seems to be a place where the Earth's greatest minds, in terms of art and sciences, can go to further their pursuits and continue advancing the already advanced technology there. It fosters inventors and innovators, except I don't know to what end or even to what beginning.

Oscar-winner George Clooney (Syriana and Argo) stars as Frank Walker, an inventor who has been inventing since he was a little boy. In fact, he attended the 1964 World's Fair in New York after coming up with a jet-pack that he built himself. There, he's introduced to Tomorrowland and he's taken there where he becomes a resident. There's no explanation as to how he explained his disappearance into a city in another dimension. Where were Frank's parents?

Maybe I missed the explanation, but it's not clear who first discovered Tomorrowland, or who built it. Was it by aliens? All this great technology exists there, yet it's not being shared with the world, so what was the original point? Was Tomorrowland stealing or squirreling away these great minds and hoarding them selfishly?

Britt Robertson (Under the Dome and The Longest Ride) co-stars as Casey Newton, a young scientist whose dad is a NASA engineer. She's recruited to be a resident of Tomorrowland, but Casey learns Tomorrowland has been closed, not unlike an unsafe ride at Disneyland or Walt Disney World. Her mission is to find a way to get there no matter what. She's certainly on the plucky side with a lot of child-like wonder and an adventurous spirit. Even though Robertson is in her early twenties, you feel as though her character is half that age.

At first, I thought Tomorrowland might be a glimpse into the future and be a place that all humans will eventually reach, but it's not necessarily an aspirational place for all of humanity. The screenplay by Damon Lindelof and Brad Bird suggests Tomorrowland lives in the here and now as a place kept secret from humanity, save a select few. Therefore, in this movie, it just stands as a bright, shiny place with no real function, just itself an icon with no more symbolic or real value than the 1964 World's Fair but at least the World's Fair was open to the public.

There's some nifty action scenes. A fight scene in a toy store, involving Keegan-Michael Key, was very hilarious and helped to get me on board with this movie's ride. There's also a funny scene where Frank gets locked out of his house that I thought was clever. The movie, however, failed to live up to its own expectations. The movie is more about getting to Tomorrowland than actually delving into it.

The movie, unfortunately, ends on an extremely awkward note. Raffey Cassidy plays a robot named Athena. Cassidy is only 13-years-old in real life, but there is a suggestion that Frank fell in love with Athena, a feeling suggested as we see Frank, played by Clooney who is 54-years-old, holding Athena in his arms. It's an awkward and icky moment because it's a little too close to pedophilia.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated PG for sequences of sci-fi action violence and peril, thematic elements, and language.
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 10 mins.


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