Movie Review: ‘TOMORROWLAND’ – An Uneven Trip to Disney World


Preston Barta // Features Editor

TOMORROWLAND | 130 min | Rated PG
Director: Brad Bird
Cast: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie, Raffey Cassidy, Thomas Robinson, Pierce Gagnon and Tim McGraw

There was certainly a lot of mystery surrounding this film before trailers began to hit the web. Since we heard of a project that would team up director Brad Bird (THE INCREDIBLES, GHOST PROTOCOL) and screenwriter Damon Lindelof (LOST, PROMETHEUS), expectations and beliefs ran rampant. Some uncovered a few clues that pointed towards a new STAR WARS film (obviously wasn’t the case), while others speculated something involving aliens and UFOs. But then, the truth was set straight once the trailers sprouted and the plot was revealed.

The story, simply put, is about a man, a girl and a robot who travel across dimensions to battle some loony obsessed with technology and inventions. Sounds like it could be cool, right?

Seeing what Bird did for the MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE franchise with his live-action debut, GHOST PROTOCOL, proved that he was indeed up for the task and lived well to the expectations of Tom Cruise and the entire production team lead by J.J. Abrams, who directed the third installment back in 2006. Bird brought forth a plethora of well-orchestrated action sequences and raised the bar for how the genre is done. So you can only imagine how cinephiles were anticipated something game-changing here with TOMORROWLAND, even within the world of Disney (I mean, he did do wonders with THE INCREDIBLES).

Britt Robertson (THE LONGEST RIDE) plays Casey Newton, a young lady with a drive to do big things and change the world. Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.

Britt Robertson (THE LONGEST RIDE) plays Casey Newton, a young lady with a drive to do big things and change the world. Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.

However, while TOMORROWLAND features engaging performances, some interesting political commentary here and there, and fun set designs and visuals, Bird loses sight on the story and lets it slip away. It’s like a trip to Disney World. You get excited about the rides and sharing the experience with everyone, but then you gotta wait in that line, deal with those screaming kids and overpriced food– and once you leave you question whether it was worth it.

After so much hype, TOMORROWLAND is an aesthetically-pleasing failure about trying to succeed, which is disappointing considering the party involved. Kids are sure to love it, as it includes enough goofy sci-fi action (similar to SPY KIDS) to keep them on the edge of their seats, but adults will walk away feeling rather exhausted and empty.

TOMORROWLAND opens at 7 p.m. tonight in participating theaters and everywhere tomorrow.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.