'Tomorrowland' is futuristically fun, but boasts a frustrating ending
"What if there was a place where nothing was impossible?"
Remember that scene in Back to the Future, Part III when Doc Brown gives Marty and Jennifer one last bit of encouragement before taking off in his steam-powered time train?
"Your future hasn't been written yet," he said. "No one's has. Your future is whatever you make of it, so make it a good one!"
Essentially, that piece of advice serves as the foundation behind Tomorrowland, with George Clooney and Britt Robertson putting their own spin on the Doc and Marty relationship as a genius inventor and an optimistic teenager who team up to save both the present and future.
In order to do so, they must travel to the titular location: an idyllic technological utopia located in a dimension far from our own. According to Frank (Clooney), Tomorrowland is where the best and brightest members of society have gathered to create a world where "nothing is impossible." Casey (Robertson) gets a taste of what Tomorrowland has to offer, and quickly finds herself wanting the full entrée.
Honestly, who could blame her? This is a place where jet-packs are available for recreational use, space travel is about as easily accessible as catching the El and "advanced animatronic" androids (like Athena (Raffey Cassidy), whom young Frank had a slightly Blade Runner-ish crush on) are basically a societal demographic.
Watching their adventure unfold is an experience that is kept afloat by optimism, an unabashed sense wonder and amazement, eye-popping visuals and exhilarating action sequences that make you forget that the movie itself serves as a feature length commercial for The Walt Disney Company.
As for the storytelling aspect, Tomorrowland poises itself to reach incredible heights, but the plot is unfortunately weighed down by poor pacing, an excess of "preachiness" and an extremely unsatisfying climax.
It's hard to determine who should take the brunt of the blame concerning the shortcomings of script, since it was a joint effort between director Brad Bird and Lost creator Damon Lindelof.
As a fan of Bird's previous works as a writer/director, such as The Incredibles, Ratatouille and the criminally underrated masterpiece, The Iron Giant, I would probably say that Lindelof's influence brought about the clunkier moments of the film.
I mean, after all, he is responsible for the plot-hole riddled turkey Prometheus, the beyond stupid Cowboys & Aliens and many of Lost's convoluted storylines along with its frustrating ending.
But, as a means to remain fair, I should probably mention that Tomorrowland is Bird's first screenwriting effort for a live-action film, so it's possible that factored in as well. The only thing that I know for sure is that by the time the credits rolled, I left the theater feeling complacent with what I saw as opposed to begging for more.
However, that doesn't mean that it's not worth seeing. Keep in mind that while Tomorrowland is underwhelming plot-wise, it's a finely crafted piece of popcorn cinema. Bird already showed his ability to create visually stimulating action sequences with Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, his first foray into live-action, blockbuster filmmaking and currently the best entry in that series.
The amount of imagination, kinetic energy and good old fashioned fun that lights up the screen during our heroes' adventure is almost Spielbergian in tone, and as great as his work has been recently, I'm not talking about the present day, Oscar-winner Spielberg.
I'm talking about the old school, rip roarin', big budget, always exciting, can't-take-my-eyes-off-the-screen, makes-me-wanna-be-a-director, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, E.T. phone home Spielberg.
It's a visual style that has been missing from summer movies for a long time now, and hopefully with the emergence of Bird as a director, along with the advent of films like Mad Max: Fury Road , we'll start to see more of it during the years to come.
Ultimately, unlike its portrayal of the future, Tomorrowland is in no way perfect. That doesn't mean it isn't an originally optimistic beginning to a blockbuster season of sequels and reboots with bleak overcasts.
It may not reach the dizzying heights that it could (and should) have during its runtime, but it's fun and inspiring enough to make anyone go out and work towards a better and brighter future, so that maybe one day, everyone can live in a world where nothing is impossible.