Studio: Walt Disney Pictures (1 hr. 47 min.)
Plot: Bound by a shared destiny, a former boy-genius and an optimistic teen embark on a dangerous mission to a futuristic city.
Cast: George Clooney, Raffey Cassidy, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie, Tim McGraw, Keegan-Michael Key, Kathryn Hahn
Bottom Line: **
By Samantha Ofole-Prince
What if all the smartest people in the world got together and created something? What if you knew when you were going to die? These are some of the questions “Tomorrowland” poses, but sitting through the nearly two hour running time, the one question I had was; What if I could go back in time? Would I spare myself the increasingly tedious ordeal of having to sit through this film?
It’s not that “Tomorrowland” is a terrible movie, but films about traveling to the future and saving the present are plentiful and this one, with its convoluted plot, offers nor delivers anything new.
As the story goes, the genius French structural engineer Gustave Eiffel, who designed and built the famous Eiffel Tower, built himself a private room where he could conduct meteorological observations and perform scientific experiments. Legend has it that he gathered three of his smartest peers—the American Thomas Edison, Frenchman Jules Verne and Serbian Nikola Tesla to discuss the future and they hatched a plan to build a city of the future that couldn’t be controlled by government or corporate interests. It’s a future world called “Tomorrowland” Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) stumbles across when she discovers a strange pin secretly handed to her by an android called Athena (Raffey Cassidy).
When the pin is pressed, it reveals a glimpse of the futuristic city and Casey will do anything to get there. Introduced to Frank (George Clooney), a cranky inventor who is monitoring transmissions from the futuristic city, they discover that an unscrupulous bad guy who runs the city (played by Hugh Laurie) is planning to destroy Earth. With several bad robots armed with colorful zappers on their tail; Casey, Athena and Frank join forces and traipse to the inside the Eiffel Tower to track the signal to Tomorrowland and save the present world from future destruction.
Produced and directed by Brad Bird (“The Incredibles,” “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol”), “Tomorrowland” is an exceedingly slow boil. It’s a good 45 minutes before we get to see Tomorrowland. It’s also never fully explained what went wrong with this dystopia nor why Casey is the chosen one who gets the mysterious pin. Sure she’s tenacious, but is that the only merit? Adding, the message about global warming, saving the earth and human selfishness seems a tad too familiar – been down that cinematic track a few times too many.
On the flip side, the young Raffey Cassidy (Athena) is a delight to watch and is the film’s performing highlight. Keegan-Michael Key and Kathryn Hahn play two odd characters who own a memorabilia emporium and rounding out the cast is Tim McGraw, who plays Casey’s Father, a NASA engineer.
Visually, the film with its retro-future look fulfills the promise of futuristic fiction. It offers strange costumes, flying cars and stunning structures. Maybe kids will find this fantasy escapist sci-fi to their liking, but I didn't feel the lure of the future. An intricate plot weighs it down, the special effects are tepid and it simply borrows from far too many other original films.
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This column was printed in the May 31, 2015 - June 13, 2015 edition.