Tomorrowland's messy third act cripples the film from ever reaching any level of greatness, despite Brad Bird's imaginative direction and a surprise show-stealing performance from Britt Robertson.
Brad Bird‘s Tomorrowland is a great disappointment. That’s not to say that it’s a bad film, but Tomorrowland struggles being a very good one, thanks to a crippling third act that’s messy and all over the place. Britt Robertson steals the show away from George Clooney with ease, while Brad Bird does his best to create another memorable live-action Disney film.
Casey (Britt Robertson) is a brilliant young lady with a can-do attitude and a general positive outlook on life and the future. Although, she lives in a world that’s slowly over-filling itself with gloom and self-destruction, with absolutely no end-game plan on how to change things before it’s too late.
One night, she stumbles upon another world — a world where all of our best and brightest moved to in hopes of creating something much larger than life.
This also leads her to a bitter man named Frank (George Clooney). Frank was once a member of this secretive and bright world, but he got kicked out for reasons that get explained a little further along in the film.
Director Brad Bird blew us all away with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, which was his first live-action film after having a long and successful career in animation, working mostly for Disney’s Pixar.
Now, Bird follows up Ghost Protocol with Tomorrowland; a creative and original new film from Disney, which marks his second attempt at a live-action film.
Tomorrowland initially starts out with bold promise, as Bird slowly paints a unique vision of the future, full of a weird balance of hope and hopelessness.
Once Casey discovers what Tomorrowland is, things start to slowly pickup steam, only to be sidelined upon her actual arrival at Tomorrowland.
See, Tomorrowland works well enough as a traveling adventure film, with Casey and Frank trying to find a way back to Tomorrowland, while also avoiding death by robots, but then the story starts to take shape and the writing seems to have no idea how to handle everything at once.
The third act of the film suffers from this the most, with Casey all but taken out of the film entirely, while George Clooney‘s Frank struggles to capture the audiences attention. Also, the film’s big dilemma seems to be discovered and solved within five minutes, which hurts the slow build up that some might already find annoying.
These problems can most-likely be credited to writer Damon Lindelof — who has had a track record with fumbling hard on film endings, but Brad Bird and Jeff Jensen share equal responsibility, because Tomorrowland’s foreseeable doom isn’t only noticed thematically, but also from a structuring standpoint.
The film never really explains its larger problems until deep into the second half, with a lot of the fun and exciting stuff between Casey and Frank coming across as weightless and without much emotion, because everything’s just fast-paced and action-oriented for the fun of it, but not exactly with much reason.
The film gets by on this because of star Britt Robertson‘s enormous amount of energy and charisma, often-times stealing the spotlight completely away from a disgruntled and crabby George Clooney.
Seeing Clooney play such a lifeless character is also hard to witness, because Clooney too is also usually full of a unique brand of fun.
But Robertson carries the film and continues to do so until she’s basically pushed out of the film during its most important moments and then she’s brought back, leaving you puzzled as to why the most important character in the film had little to do with the film’s most important moments.
It’s a real shame, because Robertson holds her own quite well and makes you wonder what film she’s going to do next, because she’s worth the hype.
The rest of Tomorrowland relies mostly on its light-weight spectacle and general kid-friendly adventures that are creative and fun and filmed in a way that makes you appreciate the honest nature of the film.
Brad Bird definitely knows how to construct some impressive set pieces that almost always keep the film moving, even if the dialogue and actual progression of the script appear to be stuck in the mud.
Tomorrowland is Disney doing big live-action spectacle with an attempt at layering in an important message about our world and the people in it. The message doesn’t quite hit home as hard as it should, due to several problems in the film’s writing, but the film as a piece of pure entertainment gets by.
It gets by enough for someone not to hate it, but that doesn’t give it a complete pass. Brad Bird‘s direction does keep it on its feet longer than it would have been in the hands of someone a little less talented, but the messy third act really does anchor the entire thing down in the water, when it should be blasting its jets off into space.