Tomorrowland was a film I was really excited about, but was sort of disappointed by.
As this latest Disney adventure opens, we meet Frank. The year is 1964, and this young inventor hopes to show off his latest invention, a jet pack that propells the wearer, but doesn't allow him to fly, at the World's Fair. Here, he encounters Athena, a strange young girl who leads him to another dimension known only as Tomorrowland. Frank lives there happily for some time, inventing greater and greater things until one particular invention gets him into trouble and he is forever cast out. Also, Frank learns the truth about Athena and can't deal. Decades later, teenage Casey, who dreams of space travel and has vague ideals for making the world a better place, gets busted for sneaking into private government property. When the police finally let her go home, she finds a mysterious pin in with her belongings. A pin secretly slipped to her by Athena, the same little girl who lured in Frank. When Casey touches it, she sees a vision of Tomorrowland. But it is only that: a vision. It's not real. Research leads Casey to an odd Sci-Fi shop, which, as it turns out, is run by evil alien/robot creatures who are looking for Athena with orders to shoot to kill. Because she has the mysterious pin, Casey gets added to their hit list and narrowly escapes. She is kidnapped by Athena, who viewers discover is also a robot, and dumped in Frank's (now an old man) front yard. There's some character conflict, another attack by the evil robot creatures, another narrow escape, and the duo is reunited with Athena (we learn about the past drama between Athena and Frank and the reason Frank was cast out of Tomorrowland). Athena takes them to a transport and, after a seemingly-pointless pit stop in Paris and yet another narrow escape, everyone ends up back in Tomorrowland. But it's not the shiny, bustling city Frank remembers. It's ruined and deserted and run by a man with questionable intentions. Frank and Casey learn that they are there to prevent the coming apocalypse...which they achieve by blowing up a device that's been projecting pictures of war, destruction, and other nasty things into the TV sets of people on earth (we learn that Frank built this device to warn people of what will happen to the world if they don't change their ways, to scare them straight, but that it's having the opposite effect by creating what will soon be a self-fulfilling prophecy). The movie closes with a restored Tomorrowland and a bunch of robot children preparing to transport to Earth, find people who are forward thinkers (artists, musicians, inventors, etc) and awaken them so that, together, they can learn how to save the world.
Whew! Yes, the actual plot of Tomorrowland is as confusing and convoluted as that synopsis sounded. The concept of the film is a good one: Basically, creative minds can transform the world and make it a better place. And as an artist and musician and quirky creative type, I like that idea (see mom, I told you Art skills would trump something like Algebra).
Unfortunately, the execution of that concept fell horribly flat, mainly because the film tries to be too much at once, which causes it to be all over the place. Also because the movie takes too darn long to get to the point (in total, it clocks in at well over two hours). By the time the credits roll, viewers likely won't care--IF they make it as far as the credits, that is. The special effects are pretty epic, but it's not enough to save the movie from being an epic fail.
The Verdict: It's obvious Disney had other things on its mind at the time of filming Tomorrowland (*ahem* Star Wars *ahem*) and it showed. --AJB