Friday, June 5, 2015

Tomorrowland ★★1/2

Image result for Tomorrowland film stills Clooney

    Disney's "Tomorrowland" is a film that can be characterized by its ability to squash every magical moment that it ultimately conjures; I've never seen a picture so willing to burst from the seams with its overly enthusiastic imagination, yet never fully reaching that "wow factor" status. I mean, the constraints are obvious:

    Two lovable personas are smashed together in a duel storytelling fashion (as each character indulges in their own expository flashback) with very little time to get to know either, all while we are bombarded with a storyline so muddled that its negligence simply becomes inevitable. (There are space blasters, a hidden rocket in the Eiffel Tower, cheesy robots, an end of the world apocalyptic scenario, and enough branding to make even the Super Bowl seem rather reserved.)

    Not to mention a love story featuring one of our main protagonists in Frank Walker (George Clooney) that can never get off the ground and a plethora of comedic cues that--much like the film itself--become nothing more than a miscalculation. It would seem that our filmmakers went that extra mile, and, unfortunately, it never pans out in the manner that one would hope.

    The plot merely consists of a boy genius, Frank Walker, who after attending the 1964 New York World's Fair, catches the eye of Athena (Raffey Cassidy), a young girl who can impart a wonderful gift--that being an entrance into Tomorrowland--a captivating futuristic world where the greatest minds assemble and where innovation never ceases to amaze.

    Fast forward to the present time period and we become acquainted with Casey Newton (Britt Robertson), a teenage girl who is as technologically brilliant as she is ambitious. After fatefully receiving a lapel pin with the ability to transport the owner into Tomorrowland, Newton embarks on a perilous journey that will not only see her team up with Walker, but will hold the future of the world in its balance. (Although this may seem intriguing, the duel character study never allows the plot and the glory of its intentions to come to fruition.)

Image result for Tomorrowland Clooney film stills

    "Tomorrowland" relies heavily on the acting of Clooney and his younger female co-stars, and rightfully so. (The genuineness of the actors and actresses was not only the best aspect of the picture, but one of the most integral, considering the feverishness of the plot.) Clooney excels in several scenes with Robertson and Cassidy--the both of which look to have bright futures in the film industry. (This being roughly two breakthrough performances for the pair.)

     With all of that being said, however, it is the film's inability to capture the blissfulness of the moment when it direly needs to that really becomes the most prominent issue here. Although the setting of Tomorrowland is surely utilized for its visual impact, the time spent within its construction is less than adequate--and in a way--quite demoralizing. (It has become a Hollywood gimmick as of late to advertise a picture's setting to be in a majestic realm, sparing no expense, even though collectively it is only about fifteen percent of the running time.)

    We are shown the beauty of this futuristic paradise in the most graceful of ways, as the mobile camera becomes a subjective participant in its own right--following the wonders of the city with subtle strides, pans, and tilts--as if we were actually experiencing this moment ourselves, and stretching our necks to see men with jetpacks and a superb display of architecture. This is all for not, however, as the moment becomes overshadowed by its subsequent lack of endurance. (We are not only teased with the thought of frolicking in the boundaries of "Tomorrowland," but duped into believing that it would last longer than five minutes.)

    Additionally, the final scene featuring Clooney and his love interest (being one of the most important scenes in the entire film and the latter of whom I will not unveil here) becomes rather awkward and lacking of all sentiment, when the opportunity for affection surely existed, if handled properly. I guess this pining for emotion stems from the fact that Walker is ultimately the more compelling storyline, and a man that we want to see content, even though finding love in this instance seems to be crossing moral boundaries, on many different levels. A kiss on the forehead or cheek would have sufficed.

    The critical question to ask becomes this: Did the film achieve that coveted suspension of disbelief, where anything seems plausible and where moments become immersed in conceivability? I would say just barely, which is never a good thing. This Disney production simply aligns with the company's most recent agenda, which apparently involves the creation of films in an attempt to shed light on a contemporary social issue or to convey a message of moral implication. (As if Socrates himself were running the Disney corporation and instructing audiences to be courageous and kind--and in this particular instance--making a call for inspiration.)

    There is no doubt that "Tomorrowland" is motivated to inspire the youth of America and to spark ingenuity (as it sheds light on our inability as a race to continue innovation), but this is a moot point, especially considering that the message comes from a company who has lost much of its own creativeness, culminating in several live-action renditions of past animation successes. There will be no more Einsteins, Nietzsches, or Walt Disneys for that matter, and this has never been more obvious than in the twenty-first century. Unfortunately for Disney, this call will go unheard, although I hope that the idea behind the message does not become lost on the company itself.

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