'Tomorrowland', George Clooney promise bright future, falls flat

"Tomorrowland" is a curious film, and yet it falls curiously flat. It raises many interesting questions about our future, yet funnels them through the completely wrong set of eyes to the point were you take a large sigh and feel like asking, “What’s the point?"

The film is about a young girl named Casey (Britt Robertson) whose intelligence and optimism leads her to a futuristic world. Robertson does her best to make her character interesting, but the performance devolves into a whole lot of looking lost and asking questions that become tedious quickly. 

In fact, many of the film's scenes turn into forced emotions of wonder and confusion practically being beaten over your head with the subtlety of a slap to the face. Eventually (and I mean eventually), she’s escorted to the house of a Frank Walker (George Clooney) by young girl named Athena (Raffey Cassidy) where the three then embark on a voyage to Tomorrowland itself.

If you’re wondering why that sounds so boring, that’s because it is. Director Brad Bird is a fine filmmaker, and I’m going to assume he put his talents into proving to the world that you can make a movie with outlandish scenes like a rocket flying out of the Eiffel Tower or Tim McGraw playing an engineer a total snoozefest. The movie even bored its audience with an "It's A Small World" segment, which is a filmmaking accomplishment in itself.  

But even in these dull moments, flashes of a great movie come through. The referenced past between Frank and Athena continually pokes its head and threatens to become engrossing before being smacked down by another “visually stunning” moment.  Frank’s interactions with Nix (Hugh Laurie, doing what he can with an underwritten part) are fairly interesting and the relationship between the two is established well despite minimal screen time. 

It’s obvious to anyone reading that Clooney is the main star of the film, and his relationship with Athena actually becomes a highlight of the film.  Yet "Tomorrowland" never has the focus to double down on Frank as the main character in spite of the fact that he is a far more interesting character than Casey.  

Yes, you read that right. Somehow amid the Disney product placement and screaming Casey, 54-year-old Clooney is able to make you believe that he did love this little girl when he was a child without a trace of irony or creepiness; ironically for a film so focused on the future, the best scene comes at the end when the two simply reminisce on the past when Frank was young. It’s around this time that the action begins and the film clicks very briefly into a film about how to make the future better, and the sacrifices we have to make for it.

If that’s the case, I hope next time it doesn’t involve me sacrificing two hours with the wrong character for an ending I could’ve written as a finale to a Disney cartoon.

Reach the reporter at jagger.czajka@asu.edu or follow @JaggerCzajka on Twitter.

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