Tomorrowland Review — Imaginative Directing + Unimaginative Script = Surprisingly Mediocre

I guess every director has his dud, but man that trailer looked so cool.

So I finally got to seeing Tomorrowland and it was pretty much the live-action film version of Parasyte that the reviews painted it out to be. Not in terms of actual content obviously, but in terms of execution: a film with a message that doesn’t seem to realize that what it’s talking about isn’t new, isn’t even that true, and it doesn’t do in an imaginative way. Now Parasyte’s source was made in the days when we just wanted manliness from our action films so I can sort of understand why the anime adaptation turned out as mediocre/average as it did. Tomorrowland, by contrast, has less of an excuse than Avatar.

Let me tell you what Tomorrowland is about, since it should give you a clear idea regarding whether the film is for you or not: the movie’s story is about how the world has become so obsessed with the apocalypse and grimdark storytelling to the point that the more whimsical light-hearted Disney style of viewing things has become forgotten, and the only way we can overcome that is to have people slowly rediscover the light by having them experience Epcot. For those of you who don’t know, Epcot is one of the theme parks at Disney World with a long history that I’m too lazy to do research on because knowing its history won’t help the film unless you’re a huge theme park nerd. And if you are, you already know more about Epcot than I ever will.

Now obviously, I’m not saying that people rediscovering the joy of the mouse through Epcot is a bad thing. It’s a fun place, it’s portrayed really imaginatively in the film, and it’s just a metaphor at the end of the day. The specific theme park doesn’t matter too much in this “redemption” story compared to the larger issue of having some happiness in our lives in order to contrast this age of pessimism. What is a bad thing is that, well, your story is about trying to combat the current age of pessimism by trying to introduce people to an age of magical optimism. I gave Maria some flak (well okay, a lot of flak) because despite raising some of the benefits, the show ultimately boiled down to “war is bad and pacifism is the right answer at the end of the day” along with some religious stuff that I don’t think added all that much to anything, but I’m not the guy to talk to regarding religion so disregard that if you want. But you know what? At least the show did try to give war a fair chance. It wasn’t being all that creative with it, but fair is fair nevertheless.

That’s nowhere near the case here. There’s no moral complexity in this film (and if there is, it’s buried too deep to really care about) and the solutions, despite looking imaginative, are completely lacking in imagination whatsoever. After an admittedly promising start when our two leads, George Clooney and Britt Robertson, are introduced to the majestic world of Tomorrowland during different times, the film quickly degenerates into your standard “being chased whilst trying to discover the secrets of the world” plotline and said plotline is spiced up with nothing but cliches and Disney-esque stereotypes. So not only is the message about how we’ve got to fight pessimism with the mouse, but the entire execution of the story fights pessimism with the mouse. That’s fine if you’re into simple stuff I guess, but I like my message movies to have a little more back-and-forth like in Man of Steel. And Man of Steel wasn’t exactly a James Joyce novel when it came to the complexity involved in telling Superman’s story.

On top of that, Tomorrowland is freaking naive if it thinks humanity’s bleak outlook on the future is something that can be fixed, or that it’s even a new problem to begin with. This article explains it better than I ever could, but yeah. I don’t care what you think of Watchmen, but you can’t deny that was more timely than this thing.

I really like Brad Bird as a director, as some of you know. His contributions to Pixar were my favorite of the bunch that wasn’t named Wall-EMission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is one of the best James Bond movies that we never got, and The Iron Giant wasn’t too bad either – and given the rest of Warner Brothers Animation’s films, that says a lot. And despite seeing all the mixed reviews, I really wanted to like this movie. After all, there are movies that have been critically thrashed that I’ve liked. Michael Mann’s Miami Vice didn’t do well with critics or audiences when it came out, but I maintain that it’s an underrated film that is much smarter than people give it credit for. By being a story from the TV show in a world that has since been afflicted with post-9/11 fear, and thus Tubbs and Crockett have been changed from their flamboyant 80s selves into self-serious cold cops who don’t even interact with each other all that much, the film ended up being a great meta-commentary on the Bush regime as well as how people see action movies these days.

I’m not seeing that with Tomorrowland. It doesn’t have the substance or attitude needed to back up what it’s trying to say, the potentially interesting characters are saddled with lame story roles that downplay their potential, any potentially interesting issues brought up by the setting are sometimes asked but never answered, and it’s just sooooooo boring. Nothing that got my mind racing. Nothing that really made me laugh. Some cool action, but I could the same for Gladiator (that movie sucks too by the way). Easily one of the most disappointing movies I have seen in a long time.

2 responses to “Tomorrowland Review — Imaginative Directing + Unimaginative Script = Surprisingly Mediocre

  1. Every ad for the film made it look like such a boring generic adventure film,so I wasn’t surprised when I heard it bombed.Then you got hack writer Damon Lindelof doing the script so it’s no wonder the film sucked.