Monday, 25 May 2015

REVIEW - TOMORROWLAND (BRAD BIRD)


Brad Bird is a skilled director of action, and an empathetic director of drama. He understands spatial dynamics and fluid, effective editing as keenly as he understands relationship dynamics and subtle character detail. It's a shame to see his skills exploited for such measly ends in Tomorrowland, a film whose shortcomings can neatly be attributed to its production company (Disney) and its co-writer (Damon Lindelof), though not in whole. Alas, Bird drops the ball in Tomorrowland, a film so high off its own sense of wonder that it neglects to inspire the same sense in its audience. We're firmly in post-Spielberg school here, in that Bird joins the likes of JJ Abrams and co. in self-consciously and unsuccessfully aping methods once used by Steven Spielberg. To do so is to deny one's own vision as a filmmaker, though to what extent Tomorrowland represents any particular filmmaker's vision is questionable. The film dribbles forward, with the plot generously interspersed with action scenes that display curiously little visual ingenuity and precious little propulsion - that which the film itself desperately needs, but is refused principally due to those action scenes. The film becomes a mystery adventure, in which the protagonist (a grating Britt Robertson) seems perpetually in awe... but of what? Kitschy design and passe sci-fi plotting immeasurably reduce the depth of awe that any of us might experience at, say, a space pod hurtling through dimensions. The camera is mostly trained on the actors' faces in this scene, and watching movie stars' vaguely nauseous expressions wobble left and right for an entire scene makes me wonder indeed: "I wonder why this movie got made?" I'm still wondering.