Orca at the Movies: Tomorrowland

OrcaAtTheMoviesToo long, eh? Too long was the time since I wrote my last OatM column. But seriously, right now there ain’t much to watch out there, at least not much that would interest me in any way. As a notorius cheapskate I gotta wait until the very few good movies appear in one or the other Pirate Outfit anyway … and there’s not much going on right now. I mean, I still have a modicum of expectations about the technical quality and won’t accept any cam versions or bad copies which aren’t at least HD 1080 p quality copied from BluRay disc.

tomorrowGoing for less would be a friggin shame, particularly for today’s film, which was praised for its technical quality … if not much else. Oh, and it was again one of the most expensive movie EVER! flicks which made its production company losses at around 140 mio US$. Can you guess what wonderfilm I’m talking about? Yes, Tomorrowland!


Bound by a shared destiny, a teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor embark on a mission to unearth the secrets of a place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory as “Tomorrowland”.

The plot sounds and is intriguing and IMDb’s score of 6.6 is fair to say it right now; and there’s no reason why it should have made such a bad impact at the box office. Maybe the weather was too nice to spend time in a dark cinema? What do I know.

Didn’t I say »No Spoilers!«?

But let’s go into the details – of course without spoiling anything – and see why many people, Orca’s hubby among them, refused to even watch Tomorrowland, not even giving it a fighting chance to impress. Here comes the overly simplistic explainification: Sign o’ the times, heightened expectations, Rotten Tomatoes. See, that were already 3 explains in a very short sentence … ugh, it wasn’t even a full sentence. But it really more or less boils down to that. In the year of our good lord 2015 audiences expect the perfect movie, every time, all the time. Else they can’t be bothered. Which is particularly bad for the audience as they are usually not showing any signs of higher intelligence or at least capability to grasp the meaning of any movie … at all. So they rely on the critics since the critics are fukn experts and must know if the audience gotta watch a movie or not. But who has the time/brain to read a full column in a newspaper or magazine so they resort to the tl;dr versions on Rotten Tomatoes. And that’s where Tomorrowland bombed.

Critics Consensus: Ambitious and visually stunning, Tomorrowland is unfortunately weighted down by uneven storytelling.

I’m not too familiar with RT’s scoring system but 50% is bad isn’t it?

Britt Robertson was good, very good, no question. But maybe a tad old for her teenager role?

Well, yes, Tomorrowland had its problems but not enough to weigh it down, as it was still a riveting funride from the first second to the last. At least for me it was. And that means something if you know how much I usually hate everything that comes from Disney. In Tom-land we got everything we usally love Disney for: Youthful curiosity, a positive outlook at the future, a playful image of the world and our lifes. And we get in in abundance and delivered with some charme!

Ya, everybody gets seasick in Tomorrowland.

In my opinion Tom-land is what John Carter of Mars should’ve been. So it’s perfect? No, fuk nooo! Far from. I mean how could it be? How could it be perfect coming from a studio that restricts itself unnecessarily and refuses to open is eyes to quality, a studio with too many bosses, a kitchen with too many cooks. A studio refusing to double and triple check the screenplay for a 190 mio dollar investment. A studio that only cares about how many Oscars the director has already won, but obviously doesn’t trust in his expertise and just wants him to set their script into moving pictures. But not asking themselves if a director who only made animation is the right choice for a big budget live-action spectacle. But Brad Bird did his job reasonably well, even very well, regarding the obvious restrictions he was operating under. It’s his direction that made Tom-land a good movie eventhough Disney obviously haven’t learned shit from the John Carter trainwreck.

The mysterious ‘pin’ won’t be explainified in all details, or I missed it, but it’s not necessary for the movie to work its charms on us.

So what we have in Tomorrowland is an almost blueprint for exactly what made Disney what it is today. That fukn flick is so charming, much more charming than allowed in 2015, it would even make a great musical. Honestly I’d expected the whole cast to break out in a song and dance routine at every moment. Tee hee. No, it’s still an honest sci-fi movie and keeps you not at the edge of your seat but very well entertained throughout its whole runtime.

Perfect visuals were expected at an estimated production budget of 190 mio US$, and Disney delivered in a kinda unspectacular way. Just how it’s supposed to be.

Let’s have a look at the cast now, shall we?

There’s not a single hero in Tomorrowland but the cast is the hero. That’s another subtle but nice hint (particularly aimed at American audiences) that a team is always stronger than one super hero. So George Clooney is just the Big Name but apart from that plays his role in a supportive manner. I guess it’s fair to say that he ain’t one of the great actors of our time but in Tomorrowland he has learned not to misact as dramatically like in earlier films. O Brother Where Art Thou? comes to mind, in which he looked so alien compared to his compadres, so out of place it was a sad sight. As if he was in a different movie altogether. At least in Tom-land he fits in his role of an desillusioned inventor/scientist.

Still the kid who played the 11 y/o George Clooney was much better than his grown-up version.

About Britt Robertson I said everything already in the photo caption. I never noticed this actress before but she was pretty good … but the role was a bit out of her age-range. Sorry, but I don’t buy the overly excited science buff teenie from a 25 y/o actress.

Future or not, at least they have IMAX. 😉

Next up we have what must be the biggest surprise for me: Raffey Cassidy as the android Athena. I dunno if that’s a good sign for acting prowess but she didn’t act like the proverbial android stereotype at all. I guess she wasn’t supposed to since the movie doesn’t make a big fuss about her artificial personality anyway. She’s just a member of the group … and by far the most entertaining. In fact have I rarely seen any Disney character that incorporates and shouts out “I’m a Disney character!” as explicit and definite as Raffey Cassidy.

I’m just waiting for the moment when Raffey Cassidy morphs into a toon and starts singing and dancing. 😉

The most problems I had with Hugh Laurie. No, stop, wait. Look, I guess poor old Hugh had the most problems with his role as it was fairly badly characterized. His character was somewhere in the Disney-untypical neither between basically good and turned bad. Well, who else but Laurie could play a likeable asshole as perfect as he already demonstrated as Dr. House? But I guess in Tom-land he was badly let down by an inconsistent script and maybe missing directorial support.

»I’m not really bad. I was just written that way. And I’m still the better actor.«

Soooo, verdict time: As you’ve already figured out by now I was very well entertained by Tomorrowland. No more, no less. I guess it’s for the biggest part due to the very quirky ensemble and a very reasonable director. Brad Bird didn’t deem it necessary to show us at every second that he had a bigbigbig budget to play with. But when he used graphical effects it was always in a way that blended in with the storytelling, so we weren’t distracted by asking ourselves how the fuck did they do that? One thing is certain: Tom-land was filmed absolutely stunningly beautiful. Upbeat colourful and optimistic just like their animations.

Blends in nicely with the rest: George Clooney.

I’d even go so far to say that for the first time in very long time Disney has produced a real Disney product. At least as far as live-action movies go. If they could now maybe get rid of at least half their executives in their obviously overstaffed studio system, have stronger drug controls and care for better work ethics they’d be on their way to become a nice production house again.

The whole cast in natural order: Old men leading young girls.

So, what’s to say at the end of the day? Must you go now and watch Tomorrowland at any price, must you put it on your bucketlist? As with each and every Disney product the answer is a clear NO! But it won’t hurt you to watch Tomorrowland as it’s very nice quirky entertaiment throughout its runtime. And its easily forgotten after. There is no reason to hold a grudge against it and if you have pre-teen kidz to care about it won’t be the worst of ideas to treat them to this movie. But if its worth the ginourmous 190 fukn million dollars? For Disney obviously no, it wasn’t! Hehe. 😉



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