Tomorrowland - Cinema Review

'The problem is that, after the setup... the setup doesn't end. In fact, it still hasn't ended by the time the finale rolls around.'

Tomorrowland is a film almost obsessed with the idea that all you need is ideas. In one of those strange twists of irony only really found in a creative medium such as film, it is also definitive proof that you cannot just get by on ideas: you need, at least in this format, the ability to tell a story and to tell it in one complete film.

Writer Damon Lindelof (who will, for many, now be becoming a repeat offender at this sort of thing) and writer/director Brad Bird do create a good-natured set up, focused on charismatic lead Britt Robertson and her character's obsession with humanity's failure to look past the end of its nose. In the opening, Casey (Robertson) sabotages the demolition of a NASA launch pad, distraut that we no longer want to go to the stars. The fact that the launch pad's demolition will signal the end of her father's employment is a nice touch: Lindelof and Bird link aspiration and exploration with economic growth, without sounding like politicians.

The problem is that, after this set up, where Casey receives a pin that gives her a glimpse of what appears to be a parallel universe, the set up doesn't end. In fact, it still hasn't ended by the time the finale rolls around. Now in Tomorrowland, the world Casey sees, there's a whole new place to be set up, a fairly new character to create and some logic to explain. There's an emotional payoff that only partially works, mainly because it has been set up to death with no substance whatsoever.

Meanwhile, the rest of the film proves to be spotty too. There's clearly meant to be a warm, slightly irate, father/daughter relationship between Casey and her Dad (Tim McGraw), but, rather strangely amongst all this set up, he doesn't get any, leaving his own emotional 'proud Dad' moment rather inert. Clooney, billed as second lead, isn't, that place instead taken by Raffey Cassidy, whose performance is an odd mixture of intentionally staid and slightly awkward. Clooney meanwhile is half-cooked, neither mad enough to be the recluse he's meant to be, nor inspiring enough to be the genius he could be. Neither make for compelling travelling companions and it's notable that Cassidy's character in particular is absent from the two trailers I'd seen before heading in, despite having nearly as much screen time as Robertson.

The closing moments rather seem like they are themselves intended to set up a new franchise, without ever making it clear exactly how that might work given the events of the film. I'm not on the edge of my seat for a potential second helping. This is ill-conceived, under-developed, bereft of memorable characters and moments (Casey allowing), full of nice but empty visuals and confused about who it's aimed at (it's a 12A). In fact: it's another of Disney's recent live action fairy tale offerings. A wolf in sheep's clothing, talking aspiration, but offering merely dull imitation.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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