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The UnPopular Opinion: Tomorrowland

09.23.2015

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

****SOME SPOILERS ENSUE****

This past summer movie season was full of surprises and disappointments. Some superhero movies thrilled while others underwhelmed. Sequels flopped and reboots soared. The biggest shock this season may have been just how well JURASSIC WORLD performed while lost in the shuffle was the best movie for all ages in what feels like decades. I am, of course, talking about Brad Bird's science fiction adventure TOMORROWLAND. With a concept kept mysterious in trailers for a year and spectacular special effects, TOMORROWLAND flopped when it didn't deserve to. In fact, TOMORROWLAND deserves a place in the pantheon of recent Disney films like JOHN CARTER and THE LONE RANGER.

TOMORROWLAND is what I would expect a live action Pixar film would look like. Reflecting on the animated works of Brad Bird, TOMORROWLAND shares a lot in common with THE IRON GIANT. Both films explore what the risks of technology could be while also showing that human emotion and perseverance can take the imagination anywhere. There was a high concept at the core of this film, one that shares a lot with the ABC series Lost, which TOMORROWLAND screenwriters Damon Lindelof and Jeff Jensen knew all to well. But, where lost had years to explore and expound on it's massive concept and mythology, TOMORROWLAND had to condense into a two hour feature.

What likely kept audiences away was the lack of plot explanation or recognizable faces in the cast. Yes, George Clooney plays prominently in the story, but for a film aiming kids and teens, he isn't exactly going to draw audiences the way a young teen star would. Audiences today are much different than they were just twenty years ago when an original concept and an intriguing trailer was all you needed to get butts into seats. Now, you need a brand and a pre-existing fan base to take chances on a project. Still, TOMORROWLAND exists and deserves to kick off a franchise of it's own. That will likely never happen but we still have this great movie to look back on.

The imaginative teaser for TOMORROWLAND promised a world of wonder and mystery as well as a middle-aged man who could lead the teen star on the journey of a lifetime. While this is not exactly going to entice THE HUNGER GAMES or TWILIGHT crowds, it drew me in and my childlike sense of wonder. It feels like a divide has grown where seeing a family oriented film is considered "uncool" but those are the same folks missing out on some of the wonderful films from Pixar and Dreamworks. TOMORROWLAND should appeal to the same people who loved WALL-E or THE IRON GIANT. But, in our desensitized culture full of violent superheroes and catastrophic disaster epics, what room is there for a movie that is steeped in imagination and hope?

Because that is what TOMORROWLAND is: imagination and hope. Damon Lindelof developed the concept of the film from Walt Disney himself. Blending the mystery box concept popularized by J.J. Abrams, Lindelof created a world with an alternate dimension constructed like the namesake park at Disney World and Disneyland. Sure, that sounds a little hokey, but the blending of Disney's utopian concept with a rip-roaring global adventure is exactly the type of movie Disney himself would have loved had he been alive to see it. The critics praised the special effects and stunning visuals within TOMORROWLAND but came down hard on what they called an overly simplistic story and boring plot. 

Plot twists and red herrings do not a great film make. Sure, TOMORROWLAND has a pretty high concept behind it, but the story comes down to the responsibility of humanity to keep our planet alive. Like WALL-E or even AVATAR, there are those who claim that movies should not be overtly preachy or have a message that is anything but subtle. Let's get something straight, though: TOMORROWLAND is not proclaiming that Repubicans, Democrats, ISIS, Muslims, Catholics, Gays, Lesbians, terrorists, or patriots are responsible for the environmental collapse of our world. It is all of our fault. But, it is also well within the reach of us to correct it. Leaving TOMORROWLAND, I didn't feel like I should go plant a tree or buy a Prius, but I felt inspired to be a pinprick on this massive spinning biosphere.

The Lindelof haters out there will compare TOMORROWLAND's failure to the shortcomings of the screenwriter's other works like PROMETHEUS and Lost. Many will point to this as the crack in Brad Bird's filmography after his massive success with MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - GHOST PROTOCOL. But, I see it in a different light. TOMORROWLAND may have bombed at the box office, but that will change over time. Like THE IRON GIANT, TOMORROWLAND will grow in popularity on Blu-ray. Years from now, people will look back at the movie as another great entry in Disney's long history of film experiments.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to alexmaidy@joblo.com, spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!

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Source: JoBlo.com

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+0
10:54PM on 09/25/2015
8/10
8/10
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2:48AM on 09/25/2015

Could not agree with Alex more.....

"TOMORROWLAND deserves a place in the pantheon of recent Disney films like JOHN CARTER and THE LONE RANGER"

Yes it does. All three movies completely sucked and deserved to lose all the money they did. Good call dude....
"TOMORROWLAND deserves a place in the pantheon of recent Disney films like JOHN CARTER and THE LONE RANGER"

Yes it does. All three movies completely sucked and deserved to lose all the money they did. Good call dude....
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4:35PM on 09/24/2015

Movie sucked!

A complete disaster of a film. It's boring, no sense of wonder or fun, preachy, and it's just drags on. George Clooneys romance with that 10 year old robot girl was just disturbing, I didn't get the what was going on at the end at all, everything felt super long, the lead actress is clearly in her mid twenties, Hugh Laurie gave one of the most eye rolling inducing speeches ever put to film. I can't believe I wasted 2 hours and 10 minutes watching this crap.
A complete disaster of a film. It's boring, no sense of wonder or fun, preachy, and it's just drags on. George Clooneys romance with that 10 year old robot girl was just disturbing, I didn't get the what was going on at the end at all, everything felt super long, the lead actress is clearly in her mid twenties, Hugh Laurie gave one of the most eye rolling inducing speeches ever put to film. I can't believe I wasted 2 hours and 10 minutes watching this crap.
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12:08PM on 09/24/2015

Oh please...

..really? This was a terrible movie. It was boring, it was extremely preachy, and it went absolutely nowhere. Not to mention, it had one of the most anticlimactic endings I've ever had the displeasure of seeing. The movie literally dragged on and on without ever telling us where we're going. And that would have been fine if the point was to be mysterious, but no one really cared about the mystery. It was just 2hours of exposition after exposition via dialogue alone, some silly antics and
..really? This was a terrible movie. It was boring, it was extremely preachy, and it went absolutely nowhere. Not to mention, it had one of the most anticlimactic endings I've ever had the displeasure of seeing. The movie literally dragged on and on without ever telling us where we're going. And that would have been fine if the point was to be mysterious, but no one really cared about the mystery. It was just 2hours of exposition after exposition via dialogue alone, some silly antics and space-gun fights that made absolutely no sense to the movie AT ALL, and conspiracy stuff that should have stayed with Nicolas Cage in National Treasure.
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12:00PM on 09/24/2015
I don't see how this is considered an Unpopular opinion, it had good buzz simply because Brad Bird was directing & it under performed & got mixed reviews.
I don't see how this is considered an Unpopular opinion, it had good buzz simply because Brad Bird was directing & it under performed & got mixed reviews.
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9:06AM on 09/24/2015
I thought Britt Robertson was excellently cast. Her performance as Casey in this film held the whole thing together for me.
I thought Britt Robertson was excellently cast. Her performance as Casey in this film held the whole thing together for me.
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9:02AM on 09/24/2015
I saw this in the theater with my kids and I enjoyed the movie on multiple levels I think the while thing just worked. In fact the only thing about it that didn't work fro me was the shameless "Disney selling Disney" aspect of it. But the overall concept is INCREDIBLY original, and at a time when everybody complains about remakes and sequels and lack of original ideas, here's a great original idea and nobody shows up for it.

Is the story bad? No it is actually brilliant.
Is the
I saw this in the theater with my kids and I enjoyed the movie on multiple levels I think the while thing just worked. In fact the only thing about it that didn't work fro me was the shameless "Disney selling Disney" aspect of it. But the overall concept is INCREDIBLY original, and at a time when everybody complains about remakes and sequels and lack of original ideas, here's a great original idea and nobody shows up for it.

Is the story bad? No it is actually brilliant.
Is the acting bad? Not it is quite good.
Are the special effects bad? No they are up to modern standards.
Are the stunts bad? No the stunts are professionally rendered and executed.
Is the cinematography bad? No at times it is breathtaking.
Actually everything about the movie is good to great. If you don't enjoy the film, it is not because of the film's efforts at every level. If you don't enjoy it, it is more than likely on YOU and not the film. You've come in with expectations or biases. Sometimes if you set aside politics and things and be open to a film you can see its worth. Some people don't like George Clooney. But nothing in this film is designed to make you hate him.
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10:28AM on 09/24/2015
Waiting for the vote downs to come. I think a lot of these guys just repeat things they've heard or read and give no actual thought to the film they are reviewing or commenting on. People hate thinking. They hate original ideas because they have to own their opinions - and they usually hate on those who do. Glad to see someone else out there is s thinking person.
Waiting for the vote downs to come. I think a lot of these guys just repeat things they've heard or read and give no actual thought to the film they are reviewing or commenting on. People hate thinking. They hate original ideas because they have to own their opinions - and they usually hate on those who do. Glad to see someone else out there is s thinking person.
10:56AM on 09/24/2015
I 100% agree.
I 100% agree.
7:41AM on 09/24/2015
It was not a bad movie, but the problem was it being a top secret project from a well known director. And when it shows up it's really just a fairly typical YA book series idea. A young girl is the only one who can save a mystic land/city, but first she must learn to have faith in herself. It's been done many times before.
It was not a bad movie, but the problem was it being a top secret project from a well known director. And when it shows up it's really just a fairly typical YA book series idea. A young girl is the only one who can save a mystic land/city, but first she must learn to have faith in herself. It's been done many times before.
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7:07AM on 09/24/2015
Tomorrow land was an outstanding movie. There were so many great moments - the scene in the Eiffel Tower was fantastic. Wouldn't it be cool if it were actually true?
Tomorrow land was an outstanding movie. There were so many great moments - the scene in the Eiffel Tower was fantastic. Wouldn't it be cool if it were actually true?
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4:44AM on 09/24/2015

Shitty, shitty movie...

Liberal, politically correct BS mixed in with nostalgia for a world gone wrong, yet statistics only prove the world has gotten better. Typical Liberal rhetoric. Hate, hate, hate, hate, hate this ugly movie. I expect better from Brad Bird.
Liberal, politically correct BS mixed in with nostalgia for a world gone wrong, yet statistics only prove the world has gotten better. Typical Liberal rhetoric. Hate, hate, hate, hate, hate this ugly movie. I expect better from Brad Bird.
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10:48AM on 09/24/2015
Because those on the conservative right are always talking about how good things are now?
Because those on the conservative right are always talking about how good things are now?
+0
12:35AM on 09/24/2015
Yeah, guy. This was great.
Yeah, guy. This was great.
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12:10AM on 09/24/2015

Tonal issues obscuring what could have been great

Watching this, I thought there were some sequences that were just a little too violent for young kids (not graphic cos they were robots getting their skulls bashed in) yet plot elements that were a little too silly for older teens or non-family crowds. It felt very much like a live action Pixar film and that was surprisingly the problem. You can get away with animated violence because it's animated but when a little girl is suddenly run over by a truck or flung across a room in a live action
Watching this, I thought there were some sequences that were just a little too violent for young kids (not graphic cos they were robots getting their skulls bashed in) yet plot elements that were a little too silly for older teens or non-family crowds. It felt very much like a live action Pixar film and that was surprisingly the problem. You can get away with animated violence because it's animated but when a little girl is suddenly run over by a truck or flung across a room in a live action movie, it's pretty unsettling for family audiences if not accompanied by some sort of wacky score to assure them it's all part of the fun. And the Clooney sort-of-romance just came off weird, no getting around it.

A more recognisable lead and diverse cast would have helped it open higher and it actually held well (3x multiplier) meaning those who did see it liked it enough to return or recommend it but not enough people went to see it in the first place.

Yet what it had at its core was a gem of an idea in Tomorrowland, and how amazing it looked. A sequel to this set in Tomorrowland could have really been something.
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11:46PM on 09/23/2015
I agree wholeheartedly. Totally enjoyed the film, and did not understand why it was panned.
I agree wholeheartedly. Totally enjoyed the film, and did not understand why it was panned.
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11:45PM on 09/23/2015
This wasn't as fun as John Carter or Lone Ranger, and is probably Bird's weakest film, but I still liked it. I like the message they're trying to make, but I feel a little more work on the script would have improved this movie. That, and I would have liked to have seen more of Tomorrowland. But Giacchino's score was good.
I don't think it deserved to bomb, but I understand why it did. It''s too adult to compete with animated films like Minions and Inside Out for kids, yet it's too family
This wasn't as fun as John Carter or Lone Ranger, and is probably Bird's weakest film, but I still liked it. I like the message they're trying to make, but I feel a little more work on the script would have improved this movie. That, and I would have liked to have seen more of Tomorrowland. But Giacchino's score was good.
I don't think it deserved to bomb, but I understand why it did. It''s too adult to compete with animated films like Minions and Inside Out for kids, yet it's too family friendly for adults. Teen boys probably weren't drawn to a film like this with a female lead, and teen girls aren't into sci-fi films much, unless you count those from the YA novels. But I agree that more people will find and hopefully like this movie on blu ray.
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