Movie Review: Tomorrowland

Just once, I’d like a movie character to get up wincing after being hurled unceremoniously into the air in a confrontation or outrunning a bomb detonated by the bad guys. Or someone who actually gets injured by flying glass, which would qualify as a hazard in reality. But in movies, everyone escapes without needing a tourniquet or a trip to the emergency room. Apparently, the big screen world consists of only Plexiglas, and all the human characters made of something other than flesh and blood.

“Tomorrowland,” offers scene after scene where the three heroes: George Clooney, Britt Robertson and Raffey Cassidy must fight hand-to-hand combat with the bad guys (spoiler: except for Hugh Laurie, they’re all robots), outrun explosions and other action scenes that are often spectacular but after awhile, since they seem to be almost nonstop, kind of tedious, too. There is a lot of violence in this PG movie, but most of the really gory stuff happens to androids, which tends to dilute the impact. It certainly didn’t seem to bother the young members of the audience I saw the movie with, all of whom appeared to be preteens. Still, I found it unpleasant that so many of the bad guys expired by losing their heads.

Britt Robertson plays Casey Newton, a scientifically gifted teen who winds up getting arrested for trespassing onto NASA property. When she gets her personals back before being released, she receives an odd button that turns out to commemorate the 1964 World’s Fair event.  By simply touching the thing, she’s hurled forward in time to a place called Tomorrowland, where creators of all stripes gather.  Like most future worlds, Tomorrowland turns out to be very shiny and sterile looking, with everyone dressed in white, although in this one, there’s actually more than one token non-minority hovercrafting around.

But – spoiler alert again – this turns out to simply be a recruitment commercial which Britt finds out after she meets George, who’s been thrown out of Tomorrowland, for the crime of inventing something that will let you know the date of your death.  Confession: I still don’t know why this invention got George expelled, but at least, he’s able to help Britt flee the bad guys, who hate her simply because she won’t provide the whereabouts of a major character (though at first, she isn’t lying).  Determined to again reach Tomorrowland, Britt’s also aided in her quest by a young, British-accented girl (Raffey Cassidy), who once had a special relationship with Young George, back when he was a fresh-faced boy inventor lugging his homemade Jetpack to the World’s Fair, only to be haughtily dismissed because it didn’t quite work.  Raffey, too, has been kicked out of Tomorrowland but continues to try and recruit – well, people like Brit, so they can (I think) save the world.

It turns out that Britt’s present world is about to expire, and naturally, this doesn’t make Britt too happy.  So there are confrontations and lectures by and with the various characters, and it turns out – surprise! – that there is a way to save the world that involves more action sequences and traveling around in time.  As far as I could tell, it involved crafting a robot army of whiz kids who would then recruit gifted non-robots who would then get transported to Tomorrowland to experience its awesomeness.  That’s how it ended, and although it doesn’t quote the Apple commercial about how the people crazy enough to want to change the world, are the ones who actually do, several of the end speeches head in that direction.  I didn’t quite get why these geniuses couldn’t change the world on Planet Earth, too, but maybe it’s because the new world only wants optimists.  Seriously.  So if you’re a genius and a pessimist, you’re out of luck if you want to visit Tomorrowland.

I ended the movie knowing very little about Tomorrowland (except for the commercial), so I guess you just have to take it on faith that it’s wonderful.  All the cast of this movie seems more than game, but ultimately, the movie is just another summer action movie.  Still, it made me daydream about a future that included hovercrafts, something I hadn’t done since seeing “Back to the Future 2.”



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