"Tomorrowland" is a film that wants to soar and take the audience to a place beyond imagination, but has trouble getting off the ground – It never quite hits its stride until the final act. It is ultimately a big-budget disappointment.
Directed by Brad Bird, the man behind the Pixar film "The Incredibles" and "Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol," "Tomorrowland" tells the story of Casey (Britt Robertson), a bright teenager who comes across a pin that transports her into a futuristic world.
The discovery makes Casey a target to those who want to protect it, leading her on a chase to find someone who can help her decipher what she has uncovered. Casey turns to Frank (George Clooney), who discovered the alternate world as a boy years earlier and is now a cynical loner trying to put that world behind him.
Bird showed he could stage live action sequences quite well in "Ghost Protocol" and he does have a few sequences in "Tomorrowland" that work. Those are few and far between, however, bogged down by a film that is about 95 percent exposition. Too many long stretches of characters talking – which can be a good thing – don't work in a film that relies heavily on special effects and action sequences.
Clooney is fine as Frank, although his character takes a back seat to Robertson's Casey. Robertson feels miscast, too old for her part – especially coming off playing a college graduate in "The Longest Ride."
The biggest problem with "Tomorrowland" is that once it starts to get going, it ends.
Disney has had success converting theme park rides to films, most notably "The Pirates of the Caribbean," but this feels like an attempted franchise that is rusty coming out of the gate.
Also in theaters
This week's other big release is "Poltergeist" (C-), an unnecessary remake of the 1982 Tobe Hooper directed, Steven Spielberg written and produced horror flick that developed quite a following during the early days of cable TV and VHS.
In this update Eric and Amy Bowen (Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt) have moved to the suburbs with their three children, looking to start a new life. Things quickly go awry when strange occurrences begin to happen, with the youngest daughter Madison (Kennedi Clements) eventually abducted by spirits from the other world.
Fans of the original will recognize many of the same bellwether moments from the original, with David Lindsey-Abaire's screenplay throwing in a few wrinkles. The best adjustment is Jared Harris playing a reality star ghost hunter called in to help the family.
For the most part, though, director Gil Kenan stages a pretty basic ghost film, full of the genre's standard cliches. There is nothing really bad about the final product, but nothing really good either. Kenan really leaves nothing to the imagination.
The scares from the original stemmed from what couldn't be seen or explained, something this version sorely lacks. Everything is spelled out, so much so that it completely kills any tension that could have been built.
The cast is fine, but are given nothing to do, and basically wind up running through the same motions.
"Poltergeist" isn't a complete wash-out, but because there have been much better entries in the genre the past few months ("It Follows" and "Unfriended" come to mind), it feels rather bland in comparison.
"Poltergeist" is rated PG-13 for intense frightening sequences, brief suggestive material and some language and is now playing at the Regal Bowling Green Stadium 12 and Highland Cinemas in Glasgow.