Tomorrowland Is a Beautiful, Flawed Adventure
Critics split on sci-fi flick with impressive visuals
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2015 11:07 AM CDT

(Newser) – Hope is pitted against doom in Disney's Tomorrowland, a sci-fi flick about a girl who finds a magic pin that takes her to a kind of utopian world at risk alongside a ravaged Earth. From animation marvel Brad Bird, it stars George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, and some impressive young faces. What do critics have to say?

  • "If only all of director Brad Bird's fantasy adventure had lived up to its promise," writes Lisa Kennedy at the Denver Post. "But isn't that often the way with the future, the subject of this Disney mega-ride? Such grand hopes—such gifted talent!—not quite met." Though the film kicks off with strong visual cues, it "turns into a bloated action fantasy," she writes. At least things come together for a "moving, if mildly sappy" ending.
  • Tom Long at the Detroit News can't say enough good things. "This is summer moviemaking at its best" and "as brutally honest as any popcorn film in memory," he writes. Bird "has such a way with gadgetry that the film's two-plus hours whiz by." He also manages to keep the film upbeat while drawing attention to the planet's many problems. Long is so impressed, he says the flick "should be required viewing" for anyone over 8. "Leave with the thought in your head: We can, we need to, do better."

  • Yes, "Tomorrowland is a highly original, occasionally even visionary piece of sci-fi filmmaking, but that doesn't necessarily make it a good movie," writes Dana Stevens at Slate. An early scene of a boy's discovery of Tomorrowland is a high point, but afterward, "I could feel myself gradually being drained of the very value this movie holds in the highest esteem: hope," she says. She takes issue with what she says is an implied natural superiority of some people over others.
  • For Rene Rodriguez at the Miami Herald, Tomorrowland is "a crazy, disjointed mess. But it's the good sort of crazy, and it's the sort of mess you want to lose yourself in." Surprising for a "pure sci-fi" film, it "breathes and feels real" and has a "striking, radiant beauty." The narrative is wacky—Rodriguez was confused until the final 30 minutes—but to focus on the flaws "is to miss the giant, wondrous spectacle in front of you," he writes. "Only the most heinous of Disney villains could hate this movie outright."