Tomorrowland has good intentions wrapped in a sloppy movie. The optimistic sci- fi extravaganza has a relatively simple plot and message, but gets carried away.
Tomorrowland has a simple plot: One bright young girl must save the world. Tomorrowland has a simple message, too: Optimism saves the world. So what goes wrong? There’s a scene where an antique spaceship busts out of the Eiffel Tower. The main characters launch themselves to the moon only to plummet back to earth in order to reach another dimension. In a way, this sequence sums up everything wrong with Tomorrowland: the movie has a zillion great ideas, but zero self- restraint. Tomorrowland gives itself a luxurious exposition. We spend way too much time getting to know the main character, Casey Newton. I would describe Casey as obnoxious at best and insufferable at worst. The film opens with a video recording that frames the main characters’ backstory. By the end of the film, we see recording’s point, but for a good five minutes it’s basically Casey obnoxiously interrupting Frank (George Clooney). Lots of the cool things in Tomorrowland stem from scientific theories. (I know because I watched Stephen Hawking’s Universe on PBS). However, sometimes science stifles movie magic. In one penultimate scene, Frank and Casey start talking way over the audience’s head. You can’t tell if their explanations are made up or just way too advanced. They could say, “We’ll use a bomb to destroy the machine that makes the apocalypse a self- fulfilling prophecy,” but instead they get into satellites and tachyons and all this other conceivable, but very confusing, stuff. Since they’re dealing with technology that hasn’t even been proved yet, you’d think they’d be a little easier on the audience. This little gem saves the movie. Her name is Raffey Cassidy. Pray she has good parents. She plays a humanoid robot girl who recruits dreamers.
The movie also has a great theme statement. Casey sums it up like this: There are two wolves, fighting. One wolf is made of pessimism, darkness, and negativity. The other wolf is made of optimism, light, and hope. Which one wins? The one you feed. Tomorrowland has lots of things to say, about our society’s waning interest in science, the importance of imagination, and the invaluable resource of human capital. It makes everyone feel like they have the potential for greatness. Disney definitely does its part to inspire minds of tomorrow. As usual with Disney, the movie has top- notch special effects and makes us all want to visit Disneyland immediately. Tomorrowland’s disorganization brings it down. There’s a solid movie in here somewhere, hidden among a lot of useless scenes. Maybe we’ll see it in the Director’s Cut. Also, the field motif makes a lot more sense once you’ve seen the movie.