2015 flop

Rating: 13/20

Plot: A disillusioned former child inventor prodigy and a girl in a baseball cap team up to unlock the mysteries of a place that doesn't seem to really exist in order to save the world from humanity.

The liberal propaganda and sloppy storytelling are equally off-putting, but there's a lot to like with this Brad Bird Disney movie. In a way, it reminds me of a sci-fi National Treasure without the Nicolas Cage. A lot of the appeal is that it's bursting with creativity. Tomorrowland itself is an inspired frenzy of special effects, all jet packs and futuristic spires, the sort of future-world-building showing off human ingenuity that would likely give Walt's head a woody. Holographic dogs, bathtub ejections, launching landmarks, and killer robots round things out, and it's hard not to at least appreciate the explosion of imagination that went into storyboarding and creating this. The movie's easy on the eyes and fun to watch.

Unfortunately, it's a mess as a story. The tone's a little all over the place, like the movie never figures out whether it wants to be a high-spirited family sci-fi adventure thing or something a little more sinister. Individual scenes are borderline fantastic, but when you string them all together, it clashes. It feels like several directors huddled together, came up with the story, divided up individual scenes there were interested in creating, put their hands together in the middle of a circle, said "Break!", ran off to make their own segments, and then met again later to assemble the thing. A scene in a sci-fi novelty shop feels like something extracted from one of those Men in Black movies. A large chunk of the movie is just driving in a stolen pickup truck. Two vibrant scenes show characters trying to absorb the wonders of the titular futuristic land. Characters visit France and Nikola Tesla and his buddies. It all builds to a climax that belongs in the 80s, and only seems to be in the movie because they needed some way to end things. The parts are fine; they don't, however, gel into a cohesive whole. Director/co-writer Brad Bird's told great, simple stories in the past (although we all know there's much more going on with Up than most people think), so it's disappointing that this story ends up so messy.

It was good to see the "It's a Small World" kids though. That won't give me nightmares or anything.

I really liked Britt Robertson who is playing a character about 10 years younger than she is. If the movie had been received better, it could have been her big breakout. Clooney's character is as uneven as the rest of the movie. When he's charming and heroic, it works fine, but he spends the majority of the movie disgruntled and mean which just doesn't fit him. Hugh Laurie plays a sort-of dull antagonist.

The movie has a good message, but it's so explicit that you're likely to be annoyed even if agree with it. I guess you'd never accuse Disney of being subtle, but this delivery is especially Mickey-fisted.

I wonder if any Disney sci-fi or action movie that isn't part of a franchise can do well. If it's not Star Wars, Marvel, or Pirates, I'm not sure if moviegoers will take a chance on it.

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