For those that know me and what I do for my 9-5 you know I am an inherent pessimist. I get a glimpse of the darkness of mankind and the general evil of the world. Its a very narrow peephole into that which is wrong. I frequently expect the worst out of people, places, and overall events; which are then almost as frequently proven right. I am rarely disappointed or surprised in this regard. What you don’t know about me, what I don’t show in a world that is little more than pain – is hope. I believe in hope. I believe in heroes. I * want* more out of the world and part of the reason for this blog (aside from reviews) is to deliver that. It’s a small act, but one I take seriously. This is important to understand as you read this review.
Brad Bird (Incredibles, Iron Giant, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) returns to us with a project right up his alley. He wanted the directors chair and took up the pen as well. Sadly he wasn’t the only one to take up the pen on this one, with Damon Lindelof having done much of the original work on the film. Lindelof, for my opinion, has damaged every project he has been on. Let me give four examples:
- Cowboys & Aliens – dull.
- Star Trek Into Darkness – *needs to revise this review – ALOT*
- World War Z – die. die. die. die.
- Prometheus – deeply flawed
All four of these movies have something in common – their pacing blows. No sugar coating here. In the WWZ review I mention how Lindelof is the one responsible for the worst parts of Cowboys and Aliens and Prometheus. I am pretty sure the point holds true here. Lindelof needs to be stopped. Please.
Based on previous works, it is very clear where Bird and Lindelof intersected and where they didn’t. I won’t go into the story itself as it is best experienced, but the movie does have some horrific pacing issues. The House of Mouse will also have it’s day as well and their influence is clear – and appropriate in this one. Bird tends to tell stories that are designed to inspire people to be more. Even superheroes who must be more than they were and that has not changed here. There is something inspiring to the story.
Bird also directs well here. A combination of George Clooneys raw acting chops and natural charisma and Brads directing allow both children in the film to really hold their own. Our heroine Britt Robertson (Secret Circle, Under the Dome) is a breath of fresh air. She is able to blend the dual role of audience surrogate and protagonist seamlessly. The concept of the audience surrogate is a character in the film who asks the questions you are thinking and generally is there to connect you to the story. They tend to be bland or “everymen” so it is easy to ‘imprint’ yourself on them; see Rupert Evans as John Myers in Hellboy as a prime example. The challenge is to make them relatable and still bland enough to carry you with them. Robertson does it with apparent ease. She drives the story forward and is something more, special…inspiring; yet still asks what we would be thinking and generally speaking acts as a normal human confronted with the bizarre. Young Raffey Cassidy (Snow White and the Huntsman, Dark Shadows) also holds her own. She makes her part believable and endearing, she acts with a skill of those twice or even three times her age (13 by the way). She actually outshines Clooney in a few scenes. In a way she reminds me of Kirsten Dunst from Interview with the Vampire. She performs that well and with subtlety in nearly every scene. The supporting cast is actually just as interesting with Hugh Laurie (House) and Keegan-Michael Key (Key and Peele), Pierce Gagnon (Looper), Tim McGraw (yes, the Tim McGraw) all do remarkably well with the time they are given and are both memorable and relatable – another hard combo it seems.
From a technical standpoint, the pacing issues are pretty bad. It takes awhile to get going and stutters more than a few times. As an FX movie there is some interesting CG work early on that bothered me until I realized the intent – which was to create a very Jetsons like image to the world it exists in. Beyond that the film has some rather innovative shots and effects. There is enough that is both set and practical to let you focus on that and ignore the errant graphics that may surround it. They actually got the lighting right during the green screen scenes enough that I believed for a brief, brief, moment – someone had a functional jetpack.
What impresses me most about the movie is that much like Ex Machina – it embraces science. It tells us that while the world around us may try to burn by our hand or another that we shouldn’t give up hope. That we keep trying. That we innovate. That we invent. That we care to make change. That caring and then doing is needed to really make a difference. That science, music, and art (two of which are fading from american schools) are what we need to make the world a better place. I want that better place. I want the better place they gave us. I want more hope and this movie inspired that. It tells you that *anyone*, *anywhere* can be that person who can make a difference. While the main cast is caucasian, the movie shows that the next generation can and will be from anywhere and any gender. They go to great lengths, (maybe a bit much at times) to make it clear that women DO belong in the scientific field and should be there more than the are. The movie can give hope to people to enter those fields and change the world.
We need that. We really do.
Tomorrowland is a good movie. It’s better than average overall. It didn’t take me on a fast paced romp, that I think I was expecting, but it really was enjoyable. We need more movies like this. We need the Hope and the Inspiration. For that alone – go see it
Kids can see it without much fear, there’s some mild violence but nothing too bad.
Adults should see it as a general rule, parents especially.
It’s a good movie and needs our support. It’s a good movie because it is about something. We need that too.
I am ready for Tomorrowland, are you?