Tomorrowland (2015)

(Video on Demand, October 2015)  I may have been expecting too much of Tomorrowland.  Seeing Brad Bird’s name as a director may have led to inflated expectations.  (Although those should have bene tempered by seeing Damon Lindelof as one of the writers).  Still, seeing the results, I’m not entirely convinced that high expectations are the only problem: For a film that consciously tries to promote a better future than the post-apocalyptic clichés we see so often these days, Tomorrowland can feel naïve, elitist and half-witted.  (Contemplate the quote “…what would happen, if all the geniuses, the artists, the scientists, the smartest, most creative people in the world decided to actually change it? (…)  They’d need a place free from politics and bureaucracy, distractions, greed – a secret place where they could build whatever they were crazy enough to imagine.” and tell me what could go wrong with this idea.)  What’s more, it barely exists within its own story: The standout sequence of the film, an uninterrupted two-minute glimpse at a better tomorrow, is revealed to be an advertisement, and the climax is barely more than another fight next to an evil radio transmitter.  There are, admittedly, some great moments on the way to the dull conclusion: A few wonderfully kinetic action sequences filled with tactile details; a steampunk detour in Paris; a cranky performance by George Clooney.  But the script feels unfinished, episodic, filled with dumb ideas that don’t even sustain a first look.  (Have I told you about the aging man with a crush on an under-age robot?  Because, yes, that’s in here.)  The elitist leanings of the film’s philosophy are annoying to anyone who even has a coherent idea of how the world works, and even worse –it feels like the kind of dumb elitism that gifted teenagers usually outgrow in college.  Even for those who are enthusiastically supportive of the “envision a better tomorrow” idea at the core of Tomorrowland, the film itself becomes its own worst advocate, and none of Bird’s directing flourishes can help a deeply flawed script.  And while you may think that “arguing about a film’s philosophical stance’” makes for a better critical experience than dismissing yet another unimaginative blockbuster, the frustration I’m feeling is in no way pleasant or satisfying.

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