Just recently I was re-visiting the long forgotten Steven Spielberg produced 1980s television show Amazing Stories. If you are a child of the Lucas/Spielberg era then you will most likely remember the series that ran for a few years back when summer blockbusters were instant classics. As a wanna-be ‘event’ film Tomorrowland is lacking…something, but it would have fit in nicely as an entry into the Amazing Stories show. Those episodes ran an hour and in some cases 90 minutes, unfortunately Tomorrowland runs a lengthy two plus hours and loses its momentum, audience interest and sense of awe somewhere along the way.
Frank Walker (George Clooney) was a child prodigy in the area of science. When we first met Frank he is 12 years old and attending the World’s Fair in 1964. Hefting along a backpack filled with his homemade jet pack, Frank is intent on winning the $50 prize for innovative inventions. He doesn’t receive the money, but is given a magical pin that is capable of transporting the young Walker boy into an alternate future reality in which science is synonymous with harmony.
Cut to present day Texas. Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) is a socially conscious teenager who is responsible for nightly acts of ‘good’ vandalism on a near-by NASA launch site being decommissioned and taken apart. This act of defiance gets Casey arrested and while she is in jail she receives a mysterious pin, the same type that little Frank Walker acquired years before.
Brad Bird is an undoubtedly talented man. He has to be mentioned in the same breath as emerging big name commercial filmmakers, Joss Whedon, J.J. Abrams and others. However, Tomorrowland feels like a flimsy Disney flick from the 1970s (Race to Witch Mountain, Tron, The Black Hole) mixed with nixed ideas from The Rocketeer, Men In Black and Wizard of Oz. I applaud Bird and co screenwriter Damon Lindelof for trying on original concepts instead of settling for old hat tricks and ideas. Good intentions and a positive message though, does not guarantee a worth-while final product.
* We are in trouble when Disney is allowing the Star Wars theme music to be used as a visual punch line for Keegan-Michael Key’s cameo entrance. Just saying.
Director: Brad Bird
Stars: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie