I really wanted to like this movie. Stories with at least notionally positive views of the future are few and far between. But I didn’t.
The movie starts well with enough, with a prologue at the NY Worlds Fair of 1964-65. The early scenes of Tomorrowland are quite well done, and there is a wonderful little scene involving the Eiffel Tower (relic of another Worlds Fair) about half way through. The film is full of visual references to classic fantasy films, like The Wizard of Oz and Field of Dreams, as well as science fiction of all types (Star Trek, Star Wars, and Lost in Space, not to mention the Jetsons). There’s even a minor character named Hugo Gernsback, a shout-out to the sci-fi editor for whom the Hugo awards are named. But these isolated vignettes seem to be part of another, much better movie — not the one on the screen. The actual movie loses its way about half way through — plot threads go nowhere, Checkhovian count-down clocks never get to zero, and the storyline dissolves into a hopeless muddle. The principal screenwriting credit goes to Damon Lindelof, best known for Lost — I can only conslude that the storytelling murkiness is intentional. George Clooney, normally an entertaining actor even in substandard films, is unaccountably annoying here, although the irritation factor really goes off the scales whenever Hugh Laurie is on the screen, as the Big Bad Villain who unaccountably speaks Etonian. Even the ending, which I’m sure was intended to be positive, was kind of creepy — more zombie apocalypse than the world reborn.
Save your money.
Fun fact: The Disney company, which produced this movie, actually worked on several exhibits at the NY Worlds’ Fair. Some of the rides developed for the Fair later became rides at Disney theme parks, including the one originally designed for Pepsico — “It’s a Small World After All.” You have been warned.