(2015/Disney Blu-ray w/DVD)
B/C Sound: B/C+ Extras: C Film: C
a major big budget motion picture comes along that is so odd and all
over the place that you wonder how it got made in the first place.
One that does not know how to promote itself, one that cannot make up
its mind if it is a comedy, drama, goofing off or making some kind of
statement. The kind that is trying to have some kind of purpose, but
cannot seem to get it out of its system what it wants to say, if it
will actually tell us. Such a film is Brad Bird's Tomorrowland
(2015), a big budget film that is sold as science fiction in its ads,
but is wall to wall fantasy that is not a space opera with its
endless techno-gadgets, but one that does put its money on the screen
if to no avail. You wait for it to start and add up, but it never
does, making it Bird's first box office disappointment.
begins with George Clooney (actually in character, but you would
never know with its Disney Channel/breaking-the-fourth-wall approach
we get) talking about what has happened to get to where they are (the
other of the they being a young female voice off-camera constantly
interrupting in a none-too-convincing bit) already setting us up that
we are 'safe' as we watch. This is a tired approach, but we stick
with it. We see a young man at The 1964 World's Fair (ironic since
despite being a key Fair, was criticized for offering little new)
there to win a prize for inventing his own jet pack (we can see
Electrolux on the sides, implying he used a vacuum cleaner or two to
build it) and meets the contest head (Hugh Laurie, who will figure
prominently later in the tale) not optimistic it works.
of telling the young boy one was already invented in the finished
product of the Bell Rocket Belt jet pack (it would show up a year
later in the pre-title sequence of the 1965 James Bond megahit
Thunderball), he just talks of it likely does not work, which
gives us a flashback of him testing it out and it not working out in
an almost visual knock-off (and certainly an intertextual reference)
to another disappointing Disney film, The Rocketeer and when
he really gets in trouble with the jet pack failing, a bad recycling
of the pre-title sequence of the 1979 James Bond film Moonraker.
Still keeping up with all this?
at that point, I was still waiting to see where this was going,
including waiting for the bit about 'what if all the great minds and
artists of the world got together and combined/stored their talents
and work to make a better world' which has its elitist side (Bird's
Incredibles has been criticized for this) that was dealt with
much better in the Canadian TV series The Starlost and even
better in the forgotten big Saturday Morning live-action filmation TV
hit Ark II (both reviewed elsewhere on this site), but
Tomorrowland is never interested in seriously exploring the
thing it is promoted as doing, so the elitist side rears its
unpleasant head at the least (the extreme being the totalitarian
vision of Adolf Hitler or authoritarian technocracy of the communist
Soviet Union under Josef Stalin our of a science fiction past, et al)
which does not spell any kind of optimistic future that adds up. We
even get bits of Interstellar for whatever reason.
there, this simply becomes an adventure romp with surprisingly
unconvincing digital visual effects (the Ultra HD camera chosen for
the film does not help) with formula action, bad jokes, tired chases
and Britt Robertson as Casey Newton playing the most unconvincing
optimist in recent world cinema history, with very, very limited joy
or energy that does not inspire anything whatsoever. This becomes
more ironic when they have to fight robots that can only be described
as The Matrix-lite. By the end of over two hours (!!!), we
get the hijacking of the climax of John Carpenter's remarkable They
Live (1988) totally erasing the priceless points & the
politics and a supposedly, allegedly 'happy' ending that addresses
none of the serious world problems the film brings up on the side
throughout. This even leaves it open to mirroring echoes and
overtones of the ending of Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket
(1987) whether Bird and his co-writers realize it or not (the Ayn
Rand side does not help this one). A Disney version of the Peace
Corp. will not save the world.
the film is not being sinister, the worst part is how listless,
unexciting, boring, unimaginative and futureless it really is. As an
alleged joke, a character is named Hugo Gernsback, an author of
science fiction known for his optimistic vision of a bright, better
future with Art Deco buildings and progress, one that became shopping
malls and decaying cities in the post-modern future of the likes of
Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982) which Tomorrowland
is trying to hijack & make happy or palatable, but cannot resolve
or render a paradox between the two. This was addressed by a story
and difference known as 'the Gernsback Continuum' which the makers of
this feature cannot to claim to have never heard about.
course, this is also a film taking icons from Disney's past and
bringing them back to life while updating them, but is no match for
their one film that did a far better job of this... Tron: Legacy.
If you must see Tomorrowland, make sure you sure not tired or
operating heavy machinery.
1080p 2.20 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on the Blu-ray
is accurate and looks like all the better footage I have seen of the
production, but as noted above, though 65mm negative film was
considered (see the American
Director of Photography Claudio Miranda, A.S.C., choose digital
cameras and in another bad choice, picked the brand known for
delivering the coldest images of all of them: Sony's CineAlta series.
Yes, the cold look makes even daylight seem overcast, so this is
optimistic and never creates any believable density of its own world.
Add the mixed digital visual effects and this never gels. The
anamorphically enhanced 2.20 X 1 image is especially soft and best
for sound, the best theatrical presentations were in Dolby Atmos
11.1, offered here in a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix
that is decently well mixed and presented, but has more than a few
spots where the mix is just plain. Unless I missed something, I
doubt I am missing much in this case from the mixdown, but when this
kicks in as it needed to much, much more, it is better. The lossy
Dolby Digital 5.1 DVD version is weaker by comparison and cannot
capture the warm, richness or finer detail of the DTS.
include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes
capable devices, while we get a faux ad for the toy store in the film
& under 4 minutes of
Supervision Production Diary: First Day Shoot at NASA in both disc
the Blu-ray adds
much more including Remembering
The Future: A Personal Journey Through Tomorrowland With Brad Bird,
Casting Tomorrowland, A Great Big Beautiful Scoring Session, Animated
Origins Of Plus Ultra
and Deleted Scenes.