Tomorrowland | Third Space


Tue 21 Feb 2017
Welcome to a hopeless tomorrow

2.5 out of 5 stars

A robot from the future comes to enlist the services of a juvenile delinquent for the purposes of saving the present and future worlds. They must stay one step ahead of futuristic law enforcement officers. Ultimately the robot and the teen must choose to save the world and determine how much they are willing to sacrifice. Add in an humanistic, environmentalist message and a Disney-like setting and it sound like the a new spin for the Terminator franchise, but it is not, it is the basic premise for Tomorrowland. Which is the return to the director's chair for Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol). He is telling this familiar story line with the optimistic Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) as the lead. She is chosen by her robotic recruiter, Athena (Raffey Cassidy), because she is a brilliant dreamer. Casy's role is to become the saviour of the future. She and Athena must enlist the help of Frank Walker (George Clooney), whose history with Athena and the world of Tomorrowland has left him a bitter and reclusive man. Their journey leads them to the harsh realities of trying to find Utopia and attempting to fix the world in which they live. Can they reach Tomorrowland, bring hope to the future and the present day worlds?

In Brad Bird's future, it must be a world of monologuing. Interestingly, it was the warning for villains in The Incredibles that long-winded speeches would lead to their downfall. This hilarious realisation in the 2004 animated gem must have been lost on Bird, as the writer and director of Tomorrowland. The cinematic exercise seemed to be piecing together a film between one arduous monologue after another. After awhile, the feeling was that George Clooney and Hugh Laurie (House) were applying for a Presidential nomination. The beginning of the film offered some hope for the story. The historical epilogue of Frank Walker’s life was an optimistic, creative and hope-filled adventure to Tomorrowland that offered enjoyable intrigue for the rest of the story, but unfortunately never lifts beyond this opening segment. The story is slow, boring and only allows for glimpses of the originality that we have come to expect from Brad Bird. In the end the message becomes a heavy handed environmentalist message that was connected together by an unoriginal story. The portions that were meant to be humorous were merely creepy and for a supposedly optimistic film, the message becomes empty and joyless. There were some good special effects and the use of the Eiffel Tower was a brief glimpse of creativity, but if those are the key highlights, Tomorrowland fails to deliver. The language and violence are mild and it earns the PG rating, but just because children could go see it does not mean they should.

When it comes to opening up some of the life’s bigger questions, Tomorrowland offers many veins of discussion. The need of a saviour, mankind’s role in the universe and what does the future hold for this world are considered, but the answers are unfulfilling and empty. Bird seems to forget that there is a spiritual element to the human condition. God is the missing character in the equation on how to fix the world. It did show that without God in the mix for the answers of this world's problems, the answers are hopeless and we are left to find the solutions ourselves; solutions that will inevitably fail. But God does not leave us without hopeful solutions for the future, but understanding the answers can only be found in God.

Maybe the expectations for Tomorrowland were too high, but it is one of the biggest disappointments of 2015. Brad Bird has had a great track record up to this point in his career, but he failed to deliver. A heavy-handed humanistic, environmentalist message disguised as a children’s adventure. The message of the film could be forgivable if it was a well executed film, but it was not. Hope and optimism are essential for mankind to exist, but Tomorrowland's message is poorly executed and hopeless. We can only hope Brad Bird can get back to his original form with The Incredibles 2.

Reel Dialogue: What are the bigger questions to consider from this film?

1. What does the future hold? (The book of Revelation, James 4:13-16)

2. Can we solve our own problems? (Proverbs 3:5, Philippians 4:6)

3. Is there anything wrong with following your dreams? (Jeremiah 29:11, Matthew 6:33)

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