E: I’m fairly sure I’ve heard a certain orchestral riff before in Tomorrowland’s soundtrack. It’s inspiring enough to make me want to soar to new heights, to explore the imagination, to dream of brighter tomorrows and well, quite simply, not to give up hope. Director Brad Bird has a good idea to work from, and I appreciate where he wants to go with this somewhat chaotic film, but is it enough to get that darned musical mosaic out of my head?
J: While Ed is haunted by music I am more haunted at how long it took to get this movie started. Too much time was spent on the origin of our two protagonists, Frank Walker (George Clooney) and Casey Newton (Britt Robertson). That slowed parts of the film down, when they really should have focused more on chase scenes involving the robots who were after them.
E: A lot of time is spent on Newt (that’s my nickname for her) and her obsession with finding Tomorrowland. That place is almost like Jurassic Park in ruins when she finally makes it there and no, that’s not where the song is from. Instead of being faced with terror (well, there are those robots), they need to find answers as to why the future is doomed.
Apparently this girl is the key to restoring hope because she is an engineering prodigy. She sees answers quicker than she can think them through, and perhaps that’s why she easily lands into trouble. After a lengthy intro and a kick-ass meeting with Athena (Raffey Cassidy) who steals the movie, this film manages to find its footing when the team decide to go back to the future that they were kicked out from.
J: Newton doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. All throughout the movie, I saw her asking more questions than solving problems. In fact the writers had me unconvinced that she could be the one to save the world from certain doom.
E: Newt and Frank were bickering at each other throughout the movie. I had to wonder how this film would’ve fared with only one protagonist instead of a trio of heroes. Maybe Bird was forced to cut the film from a three-hour length into two, but even at this new length, I was feeling fidgety in my theatre seat. I was scratching my head at what kind of closure I should expect with this film.
J: It didn’t escape me that Newt’s only real purpose was to represent a teenage demographic to draw audiences in.
E: So are you saying, James, that everyone was stereotyped?
J: Hugh Laurie‘s character (Nix) just represented villainy because he’s British. We all know we couldn’t have an American as the bad guy. And to be honest, who’d take a Canadian villain seriously. As soon as he said “eh” after his first sentence, the movie would suddenly become a comedy, not a drama. But I’m glad Hugh got to play something in the film, I thought I’d loath his character but he played a very hard character to truly hate.
Either the writer’s didn’t go with the typical cardboard cut-out villain or Hugh Laurie’s talents are that good. And from being an admirer of Laurie’s work, I can say it’s the latter.
E: I would’ve liked to see more scenes with Nix talking about his world from his perspective than to keep the story focussed on the happy trio. Tomorrowland exists in an alternate dimension instead of being Earth’s future. But when Frank reveals that Gustave Eiffel, Jules Verne, Nikola Tesla, and Thomas Edison are in a search of shaping the future for the better, why jump to another world than to look to reshape the current one that’s headed to certain destruction? Is humanity that jaded, where anything we do will not have consequences later? Is there a problem where we cannot change our own planet’s destiny? 1984 did not happen and thankfully George Orwell was wrong. The apocalypse did not happen on December 20, 2012, so I have to wonder why is Earth is being abandoned.
I feel the script suffered greatly by not offering food for thought because Newt’s teachers have a melancholy sense of hope for the future. While she wanted to challenge it their response is forlorn.
Interestingly enough, the music is joyous. Michael Giacchino did a great job at briniging familiarity to his score. However, as a Disney film, only their music and this composer’s signature style is used. I feel more could have been done if the themes from John Lennon’s Imagine was used.
J: Using Lennon’s music would’ve made the film too sentimental and it would be inappropriate to use those meaningful songs in a film with the message Disney was trying to send. This movie had nothing to do with religion. Tomorrowland‘s message is about preserving the enviroment and about using not just science for the betterment of Mother Earth. Science and the arts is a means of inspiring humanity to continue and persevere over humanity’s ills. And maybe while doing so, not to forget to take the time to have fun.
E: For me, I made the rainbow connection elsewhere, but I guess for James and I, this film delivered on the wow factor but forgot that developing a well meaning story with characters you can relate to is just as important. Overall, I thought I was watching Race to Witch Mountain all over again.
3 Stars out of 5