Starring: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie
Directed by: Brad Bird (“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”)
Written by: Damon Lindelof (“World War Z”) and Brad Bird (“Ratatouille”)
Vagueness in a film’s marketing is something we’re all going to have to get used to as moviegoers from now on. From ambiguous trailers to the ridiculous amount of press a leaked photo gets to the cast and crew having to sign discourse agreements before actually shooting a single scene, cinematic secrecy is becoming all too familiar these days for studios who want very little revealed before a film’s release (it’s odd since spoilers basically start hitting the internet minutes later, but we regress). There is a problem, however, when a film’s mystery frustratingly seeps into its storytelling and never lets up. Such is the case with “Tomorrowland,” a sci-fi movie so concerned about giving away too much too soon, that before we know it, at least a third of the film is over and we still have no idea what the heck is happening – nor do we care anymore.
Far less creative than it thinks it is, “Tomorrowland” takes the central premise of “making the world a better place” and runs its mediocre narrative into the ground. Britt Robertson (“The Longest Ride”) stars as Casey Newton, an intelligent young girl witha positive outlook on life who is invited to experience the utopian world of Tomorrowland by way of a magical pin given to her by an android named Athena (Raffey Cassidy). Athena has been in search of individuals driven by hope for the future and Casey’s just the girls she’s been looking for (although calling her special in any way is an overstatement). Inventor Frank Walker (George Clooney as an adult, Thomas Robinson as a kid) once fit that description when he was younger, but now as an adult, he is far less certain that Tomorrowland is a reality. When Casey asks him to take her there, he scoffs at the idea before he realizes they are the only two people who can save the world from apocalyptic doom.
Keeping things obscure is one thing, but director and co-writer Brad Bird (“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”) and co-writer Damon Lindelof (“World War Z”) do it in such an annoying fashion, you never feel like any of the ideas they present to you are important enough to embrace at more than face value. A myriad of questions are asked, none of which are answered. In fact, any question a character utters throughout most of the film is sidestepped sloppily and without regard to compelling dialogue between the characters. At one point Clooney’s character asks, “Do I have to explain everything? Can’t you just be amazed and move on?” It’s hard not to imagine Lindelof writing this little exchange in the script while snickering at his computer. To answer your question, Damon, no you don’t have to explain everything, but at least give us a reason to stay around and find out what big surprises you have in store for us (spoiler: there are no big surprises). Also, if you honestly think some “amazing” special effects (these are average, at best) are going to be enough to get us through the mess you’ve written, your characters in “Tomorrowland” aren’t the only ones living in another world.