PG Dir: Brad Bird | Disney | 2h 10min
Plot: What’s it about?
I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I had close to zero desire to see Tomorrowland when I saw the previews for it earlier this year. I’ve never been into this sort of film, but this one looked especially dull to me. That in addition to that fact that George Clooney is far from my favorite actor. There was such a disinterest that I was eagerly waiting for it to arrive in theaters just so I wouldn’t have to see the previews for it any more. Needless to say, when asked to review it, I wasn’t jumping in joy. Still, the film offers a good bit of entertainment so long as you don’t overthink things. I’ve learned that sometimes you need to let the film do its work and trust that the plot will work itself out before the end credits begin to roll. This approach might not work for everyone, but since we’re in Science Fiction territory, this worked for me.
The plot involves Frank Walker (George Clooney) telling us about his attendance at the New York world fair in 1964. It’s here that Frank meets Athena (Raffey Cassidy), she gives him a pin embossed with a “T” symbol. Frank follows the instructions, and soon finds himself transported to the future known as Tomorrowland. We then follow Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) and her journey. Casey doesn’t like to see the future vanishing and she decides to do something about it. She attempts to slow down the dismantling of a space program, but is arrested in the process. Her father (Tim McGraw) bails her out. As she’s going through some stuff, she discovers the pin. It’s at this point that she tracks down Frank. Now it’s up to her, Frank and Athena to make their way back to the future to try and save it. For a good chunk of the film’s first half, Clooney is noticeably absent. We see his character briefly in the opening moments, but it’s not until the halfway mark that he shows up. I’d be lying if I said I took away much from this film, but it does get a bit better as it goes along. It’s still not enough to totally redeem it, but it has its moments. The effects are good, but there’s nothing particularly mind-blowing here. I think I am starting to get a brief glimpse of the future. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t include a sequel to Tomorrowland. All kidding aside, the film failed to meet the usual high returns of most Disney features, and I truly suspect a sequel isn’t going to happen any time soon. The film is a worthy effort, but ultimately a disappointment.
Video: How’s it look?
Presented in an oft-used aspect ratio of 2.20:1, this AVC encoded transfer is simply gorgeous to look at from beginning to end. As we might expect from a big budget science-fiction film (starring Hollywood’s finest), no expense was spared. Director Brad Bird got his feet wet in animation, so he’s crazy and clever and knows how to frame shots. This is the kind of movie I’d like to see in the theater, but unfortunately I’ve become too spoiled and irritated by other movie-goers, so I’ve got to settle for my 60″ screen instead. I won’t overuse adjectives to describe how breathtakingly beautiful (ok, maybe one adjective) this movie is. It’s sheer perfection in every sense of the word.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Likewise, the included DTS HD Master Audio sound mix is just as impressive. Clooney’s deep and gravely voice carries well through the center channel. The fronts are almost always active with some effect and the surrounds never really stop churning out ambiance. The LFE play a bit part in a few selected scenes. This makes for a very immersive and amazing-sounding experience. Again, this is the kind of film I’d like to watch in a movie theater or barring that – a very high end home theater. While I had no complaints on my system, I can only imagine how it would sound on someone’s who shelled out big bucks on their setup.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Remembering the Future: A Personal Journey Through Tomorrowland with Brad Bird – Pretty much that. Brad Bird essentially narrates the parallels between the film and the real-life Disney park by the same name.
- Casting Tomorrowland – Again, nothing cryptic here, it’s a short look at how some of the major parts were cast.
- A Great Big Beautiful Scoring Session – Composer Michael Giacchino gushes about his job as well as his affinity for fellow composer, Richard Sherman.
- The World of Tomorrow Science Hour – Hosted By Futurologist David Nix – Some outtakes from a ’60’s program developed for the attraction.
- Animated Short: The Origins of Plus Ultra – This is actually pretty clever as it’s an animated intro that can (and should) be played prior to the opening credits.
- Brad Bird Production Diaries – There are two features here, the first is “The First Day” and the second “Cape Canaveral” both led and narrated by Bird.
- Blast From the Past Commercial – A store featured in the film gets a pseudo commercial.
- Deleted Scenes with Filmmaker Introductions – Six total, with an introduction by Brad Bird. Though some were interesting, the film was already 130 minutes so it’s clear as to why they were cut.
The Bottom Line
While it does get better as it goes along, Tomorrowland failed to do much for me. It’s not a total loss, but it feels like only a small glimpse of a great film in disguise. A rental is the highest offering I can give, but even that feels like too much.