Monday 25 May 2015

Tomorrowland Review: Enjoy the Roller Coaster

After the very well received Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Brad Bird is directing yet another live action film. Will Tomorrowland be as universally praised as all of his other works? Well, no. It isn't.
But I still think people should see it it; more than that: I actually loved the film. Find out why in the following review.

Tomorrowland is a mystery sci-fi movie following Casey Newton (Britt Robertson), a teen whose life changes when she touches a pin that takes her to a magical place called Tomorrowland. Determined to find out what this place is, she embarks on an adventure where she will meet an enigmatic girl named Athena (Raffey Cassidy) and a grumpy man named Frank Walker (George Clooney).

This, by the way, isn't even close to resembling a detailed synopsis of Tomorrowland, because saying more would ruin the fun for everyone who hasn't seen the film yet. Quite frankly, even if the trailers showed very little of the plot, I believe that was still too much. The less you know, the better. Part of the thrill of Tomorrowland is discovering the clever world-building and all the brilliant little ideas from Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof's screenplay. There are very few scenes in this movie that aren't imaginative or that don't possess a clever twist you weren't expecting.
In that regard, the writing is simply marvelous. You won't find many films this year that are as original as this one. Heck, you will have a hard time finding films that try to be as original as Tomorrowland. This is not a sequel, not a prequel, not a reboot. This no revival, remake or spin-off. Despite what people might have thought before the release of the film, Tomorrowland isn't even an adaptation of the land of the same name in the Disney theme parks. While the film does make a small reference to Disneyland, the story behind it is something completely new and fresh, free to go where it wants to go. That's already reason enough to like this project.

That being said, the writing isn't flawless (pay attention, this is the brief part where I will criticize Tomorrowland). Structurally, it feels a bit off. The film is a joyous, riotous and fast-paced ride... until it reaches the resolution of its big mystery. At that moment, it kind of stops; we're suddenly being fed long scenes of exposition, when things should really be moving faster.
Also, for a film called Tomorrowland, you could argue that we don't spend enough time in Tomorrowland.
And that concludes my list of problems with the film.

The performances in this movie are very solid, for the most part: Britt Robertson is immediately likeable as an optimistic teen, and plays the role with a welcomed sense of fun and wonder. Again, this feels fresh. Casey isn't your typical moody teenager. She's not a character from another dystopian movie. She's unique.
George Clooney is also quite good as the discouraged Frank Walker, and his excellent chemistry with both Britt Robertson and Raffey Cassidy is undeniable.

I said the performances were solid for the most part: one of them isn't. It's amazing. Raffey Cassidy simply steals the show as Athena, and helps make her character the coolest in the film (and that's in a film starring George Clooney and Hugh Laurie).

This movie is yet further proof that Brad Bird is a masterful director, whether it's in animation or in live action. The way he moves the camera; the fact that his shots are generally longer than with many other action directors. Tomorrowland is gorgeously staged throughout, but the thrilling set-pieces are particularly well done.
You can tell he crated this film with devotion and care, and this isn't surprising if you know this particular filmmaker's passion for good cinema.

Tomorrowland might be flawed, but it's more importantly a wonderful film, in every sense of the word. It's generous, fun and inventive. So I will say this: take the ride and try to enjoy Michael Giacchino's grandiose score, the clever ideas, the strong performances. There's a good chance you won't be liking the film as a whole (apparently many people feel this way), but you may appreciate parts of it.
And if you end up loving it, well that's even better!

Rating: 9/10

Have you seen Tomorrowland? Do you agree or disagree with this review? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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