Sometimes I dislike liking a movie. Don’t know what I mean? Ever had a movie that really had a positive effect on you? But said movie had tons and tons of problems with it that’s difficult to recommend it? Then welcome friends to my dilemma with Tomorrowland…and do I tear it apart or praise it despite its bullshit?
We come across Casey, a teenage girl who, despite overwhelming gloom, keeps an upbeat attitude by committing vandalism against the US government. Okay, so she’s the daughter of a to-be-laid-off NASA engineer who’s trying in vain to stop the dismantling of the rocket program. That’s when she’s given a mysterious pin that invites her to visit Tomorrowland. A city for all scientists, artists, and dreamers to make what they want to make without politics, bureaucracy, or corporate greed interfering them. Of course when tries to go to said place, she encounters an exile of the city, Frank (George Clooney), and discovers something went horribly wrong with the city.
In case any of that plot synopsis sounds familiar, then congrats you either read or had some annoying friend talk their ear off to you of the novel Atlas Shrugged. The novel was written by Ayn Rand as her thesis on her philosophy of objectivism. Basically it means to allow the most intelligent of society to run shit and lead us to progress unhampered by politics or religion. Depending on who you ask, it’s either the greatest book ever written or the Twilight Saga of its time. Mostly because it’s aggressively boring and filled with harlequin romance bullshit while a dude spends 75 bloody pages spouting his philosophy…not an exaggeration. That’s literally what fucking happens.
Course Disney couldn’t make that nonesense, so they hired Brad Bird (Iron Giant and The Incredibles) to update the story through a semi-competent lens compared to the trilogy of shitty films we actually got to tell Ayn Rand’s story. While he certainly has the visual knack for it, he’s hampered by a scheming vizier played in my head by Damon Lindeloff. Recognize the name? He’s the dude who wrote the ending to Lost and wrote Prometheus…yeah THAT asshole.
And unfortunately he’s turned in a script that’s frustratingly uneven and weirdly paced. It slogs after a few exciting set pieces, but the pieces are there for their own sake without any flow between them. It feels like a script that says “and then this happened and then this happened and then…” It doesn’t work. Plus the climax is klunky as hell and the progression only makes sense to absolute idiots like Lindeloff.
Which is sad because the tragedy is…I freaking agree with what the film is saying! The film adopts an optimistic view of the future, one that can be hopeful and full of possibilities if only we embraced it. It’s a nice change of pace from the usual dystopian bullshit YA books weakly try to copy from greats like Mad Max. But the message fails to come through perfectly due to some inept work from the writer.
Which is doubly frustrating as the cast sells the movie perfectly. Clooney is always watchable and he’s especially fun to watch here opposite his young costars who also turn in charismatic performances.
I want to love this movie more. I really do. But this script prevents me from readily recommending it to people. Which sucks because the ending got me a little misty eyed for how bright and wonderful the future it envisions is. So I can’t absolutely hate it but I can’t love it either. Gonna have to use the wisdom of Solomon and split this shit down the middle and call this a low…