I was really looking forward to “Tomorrowland.”
Not because the trailers looked all that exciting. And not because I’m a big George Clooney fan. And certainly not because I wanted to see a movie about a Disney theme park attraction.
No, I was in it for Brad Bird. Bird doesn’t have a large filmography — he’s only directed four films — but they’re such wonderful films. “The Iron Giant,” “The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille” rank among my favorite animated films and “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” proved Bird could bring his magic to live action.
So where did it all go wrong? Oh, “Tomorrowland” isn’t a bad film. It looks good, the special effects are nifty, the cast is fine, the first half is very promising. But it gets too preachy and to be honest I had a hard time following just what was going down by the end.
But worst of all, it just doesn’t have that spark of magic I’ve come to expect from a Brad Bird film.
Britt Robertson stars as Casey Newton, a spunky dreamer who is the daughter of a soon-to-be-unemployed NASA engineer (Tim McGraw). One day a mysterious girl named Athena (Raffey Cassidy) slips a pin into Casey’s belongings. Touching the pin instantly transports Casey to a futuristic wonderland. When the pin runs out of juice, Casey goes looking for answers.
Athena shows up and drops her off at the home of Frank Walker (George Clooney), an eccentric and reclusive inventor. Frank had been a visitor to Tomorrowland while a young boy (Thomas Robinson) but had been kicked out many years ago.
Reluctantly, Frank joins Athena and Casey in their attempt to return to Tomorrowland. Once there they learn that the future isn’t necessarily all bright and shiny.
Like I said up front, there’s a lot to like about “Tomorrowland.” The future world design and effects are impressive. There are some clever twists and turns. Clooney and his young cohorts are properly charming and cranky.
But whether you agree with the film’s analysis of our planet’s future or not, you can’t help but feel it’s all too preachy. And confusing. The ending is fairly inspiring but I was expecting much better.