‘Tomorrowland’: Reviews Say It Falls Short Of Utopia

Tomorrowland, Disney and Brad Bird’s latest offering starring George Clooney as a brilliant cynic, Britt Robertson as a youthful idealist who “just knows how things work,” and Raffey Cassidy as a rebellious droid who brings them together and helps them fight the evil, opened in theaters today and the reviews are in.

“Bound by a shared destiny, a bright, optimistic teen (Britt Robertson) busting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor (George Clooney) jaded by disillusionment embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory as Tomorrowland. What they must do there changes the world — and them — forever.

The opening scenes of Tomorrowland promise to deliver a thrilling adventure ride, not to the kind of dystopian worlds we’ve been used to seeing in teen movies over the last several years, but away from that and to a world of unfettered intelligence and creativity where the human spirit thrives and people get to regularly travel into space and roam around the city in their jetpacks. The jetpacks, robots, and sumptuous scenery in Tomorrowland are for the children.

But what about the adults?

Tomorrowland, written by Bird and Lost writer and co-creator Damon Lindelof, opens with a boy making his way to the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. And it’s that sense of idealistic nostalgia — a kind of “things were far better back in the day” mentality that’s aimed squarely at the larger humans in the building and telling them, “You can feel the joy and adventure you used to as a child and also find a feeling of hope for the future.”

In the trailer for Tomorrowland, George Clooney’s voice asks, “What if there was a place, a secret place, where nothing was impossible? A miraculous place where you could actually change the world. You wanna go?” What child, of any age, wouldn’t want to go there?

The real question though is, does Tomorrowland deliver?

As of this writing Rotten Tomatoes gives Tomorrowland a rotten review rating of 49%.

Some of the reviews are glowing.

Detroit News‘ Tom Long left the theatre on a high note.

“Come for the humor and thrills and visual delights — there are many. Leave with the thought in your head: We can, we need to, do better. [Tomorrowland] is summer moviemaking at its best.”

David Edelstein from New York Magazine/Vulture thought it hit the mark with its emotion and intelligence.

Tomorrowland is the most enchanting reactionary cultural diatribe ever made. It’s so smart, so winsome, so utterly rejuvenating that you’ll have to wait until your eyes have dried and your buzz has worn off before you can begin to argue with it.”

But even most of the positive reviews hedge their bets.

Screenrant‘s Kofi Outlaw builds Tomorrowland up and then lets it fall.

Tomorrowland is a fun adventure with big ideas and a lot of heart, but somehow winds up lacking in both.”

Bob Mondello of NPR was willing to believe that a sense of child-like wonder might have helped.

“While Tomorrowland‘s sermonizing left me feeling grumpy… it may well have an entirely different effect on impressionable children.”

Dana Stevens of Slate suggests that Tomorrowland‘s inventiveness didn’t guarantee its quality.

Tomorrowland is a highly original, occasionally even visionary piece of sci-fi filmmaking, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a good movie.”

Then there are the reviewers who are less than taken with Tomorrowland‘s ride.

A.O. Scott of the New York Times gave Tomorrowland points for being enthusiastic and original in the ways it was unsatisfying.

“It’s important to note that Tomorrowland is not disappointing in the usual way. It’s not another glib, phoned-in piece of franchise mediocrity but rather a work of evident passion and conviction. What it isn’t is in any way convincing or enchanting.”

New York Post‘s Lou Lumenick thought there might be a better movie after Tomorrowland’s credits rolled.

“[Tomorrowland] never adds up to the sum of its parts, effectively a two-hour trailer for a movie I’d still be interested in seeing.”

And Matt Singer from ScreenCrush seemed to feel Tomorrowland was like a teacher giving a Powerpoint.

“Less a blockbuster action film than a stern but well-intentioned lecture accompanied by an elaborate audiovisual presentation.”

Ultimately you need to actually see Tomorrowland to decide if it delivers on its promise but if you do go, be sure to take your child-like wonder for a world filled with magic, miracles, and adventure, and leave any negativity or need to analyse at home.

Catch Tomorrowland now at your local theater.

[Image courtesy of Disney via HD Wallpapers]