Saturday it rained cats and dogs.  Not being able to enjoy the outdoors, we decided to see a film.  A friend was visiting us with her two children–9 and 11 years old–so we needed a family friendly film to watch.  We settled on Tomorrowland, because, well, science fiction and we we like Tomorrowland at Disneyland.

I don't think this scene is in the movie
I don’t think this scene is in the movie

WHAT I LIKED

I was prepared to not like this movie, because George Clooney is in it, and from the previews I’d seen it looked like a revamp of Spy Kids.  Please, not another Spy Kids.  My trepidation was unjustified, because I really enjoyed the movie!

The acting was outstanding, except for the disappointing Hugh Laurie.  He really did just mail it in.  The little girl who played Athena, Raffey Cassidy, steals the show.  Clooney and Britt Robertson also turn in very solid performances.

More than the acting, though, I liked the “Retro Sci-Fi” feel (Click here for my take on Retro Sci-Fi) of the movie.  Rockets, jetpacks, robots and hidden dimensions all wave their hand in tribute to science fiction that wasn’t just about space and and aliens.  Not that there is anything wrong with space and aliens, but science fiction used to be more than that, and this movie reminds us of it.  Bradbury and Asimov would be pleased, I think, with the effort.

I also liked that, in general, the movie was family friendly.  True, Clooney is so profane that he just can’t help throwing out a swear word or two, but those are minimized and not that strong.  The movie was appropriate for the 9 and 11 year old audience.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

Having given the movie these praises, it is far from a great film.  My first complaint is that the movie turns is a wee bit too preachy.  A little snappier screenplay and dialogue writing and we could have gotten the same message without the sermon.  I am not against the message of hope in the film, but the delivery of the message was less than fantastic.

The real problem, though, is the hero confusion.  The movie can’t quite seem to figure out who is the focus–is it Casey Newton (the teenage girl) or Frank Walker (the bitter old man).  Either way, neither story is developed enough.  We are left with huge gaps in Walkers life–like he went form being a child to a bitter old man overnight, and Casey’s character is equally enigmatic.  I couldn’t tell if she should be grounded or given a medal.

Last complaint–I promise.  The beginning and ending of the movie is terrible.  Clunky is not even a good word for it.  If director Brad Bird (Who made The Incredibles, which I love!) had lopped off the forced and contrived beginning and the unsatisfactory ending the movie would have been far better.

FINAL EVALUATION

Even with these flaws, it is a good movie you can watch with your older children.  It will also give you something to talk about over dinner.  Go see it, and let me know if you liked it or not.

image from sciencefiction.com

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