Tag Archives: Britt Robertson

Tomorrowland (2015)

tomorrowland-2015

Tomorrowland, for me, came across as one of the more “meh” blockbusters of the year, and I wasn’t particularly interested in seeing it when I first watched the trailers. I mean, come on, what kind of movie is based on a Disneyland theme zone? Not a ride like Pirates of the Caribbean, but a zone!

That said, the film sure looked good on paper. It’s directed by Brad Bird, who was at the helm of heartfelt and exciting animated films such as The Iron Giant and The Incredibles. He also made one of the best action films in recent years with Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol. Tomorrowland‘s script was co-written by Bird and Damon Lindelof, co-creator and showrunner of Lost and the writer for Prometheus and Star Trek: Into Darkness.

Throw in George Clooney’s saggy face, rising star Britt Robertson and House himself, Hugh Laurie, and Tomorrowland started looking quite promising.

I admit it started off well, setting up the fun and wondrous tone early on with some cute banter between Clooney’s and Robertson’s characters. The visuals are absolutely spectacular, reminding me of the images of futuristic worlds that captivated me as a child, and I also liked the Disneyland ride tie-in (though strangely, it was with Fantasyland as opposed to Tomorrowland).

After the nice intro however, the film never quite settles in as comfortably as it should have; the pace sags and the concepts start getting less interesting. Things do pick up towards the end, but as a “big ideas” film, Tomorrowland doesn’t go as deep or have as many layers as I hoped it would.

George Clooney gets top billing, though this was really one of those films where the big star just lends his name to the project. I guess it’s still a substantial role, but he’s not in it as much as you would expect, as a part of his character’s story is told in flashbacks and is played by child actor Thomas Robinson (who bears a striking resemblance to him).

The real protagonist of the film is Britt Robertson, who is 25 in real life but looks very much like a young teenager in this. Kudos to the hair, make-up and costume teams for making her look so convincing, especially as I had just seen her in The Last Ride, where she easily looked old enough to be a graduating college student.

Another great casting choice was British child actress Raffey Cassidy, whom they intentionally tried to make look older for good reason. I thought she was very convincing and has a great future ahead of her.

On the whole, Tomorrowland is a solid piece of family entertainment that fails in its ambitions to deliver something truly special. Despite the amazing visuals, it lacked that sense of wonder and magic; it just didn’t have that “it” factor you find in the best children and family films.

3.25 stars out of 5

Movie Review: The Longest Ride (2015)

longest ride

I’m as shocked as you. The Longest Ride, the 10th Nicholas Sparks film adaptation, isn’t vomit-inducingly bad. In fact, it might just be the best Nicholas Sparks film since The Notebook.

Petite blonde Sophia (played by Tomorrowland‘s rising star Britt Robertson) follows her college sorority sisters to a bull riding event in North Carolina and meets the gentlemanly rider Luke (Clint Eastwood’s son, Scott). A natural attraction develops, but as a young woman with aspirations in the art world, Sophia is from a different world to the thrill-seeking Luke, and besides, she has secured an internship in New York that is set to commence in a couple of months.

For some contrived reason, the two also meet a mysterious old man named Ira (played by Alan Alda), who for another contrived reason starts telling Britt the story about the love of his life from back in the WWII era. The young Ira is played by Jack Huston and his girl is Charlie Chaplin’s real-life great-granddaughter Oona Chaplin.

So as with many of Sparks’s stories, The Longest Ride is a passionate love story that spans multiple generations and features an impossibly dashing, considerate, perfect man. It has old people, saccharine dates, romantic letters, contrived obstacles that get in the way of true love, and of course trips to the hospital. It’s a well-worn template, but a damn effective one judging by the fact that we’re now into double figures.

If they ever make a biopic about Sparks it should be titled What Women Want, because he seems to certainly know exactly what some members of the fairer sex demand. I think I’ve started to figure it out — it’s a man who is not just charming, handsome and ripped but also driven, annoyingly persistent, romantic, caring and always madly in love with you and only you until the end of time. In other words, it’s a man who doesn’t exist in reality.  It’s the same conceit that made Twilight and Fifty Shades commercial successes. Whoever creates a female version of the same character for a male audience he would be vilified, but a male version means $$$.

That said, The Longest Ride is less manipulative and cringeworthy than I expected. The opening scenes of when the young lovers meet had me worried, though as the story slowly progresses you start to get the feeling that these characters may be more “real” than they’ve been in any Sparks film for a long time. Some of the more emotional interactions, as ashamed as I am to admit, got to me.

Some of the credit has to go to the solid performances. Robertson and Eastwood do have chemistry and might be the better looking couple, though the romance between Huston and Chaplin’s characters is the stronger and more heart-string-tugging of the two. It’s supposed to be a secondary story that allows the core characters to reflect on their own lives, but in my opinion it overtakes them and becomes the heart and soul of the movie.

I didn’t really care for the bull riding aspect of the story. Like the way some people don’t get boxing, I don’t get bull riding. Why anyone would risk death and/or serious pain to stay on the back of an animal for a few seconds is a mystery I will probably never understand. I will say though that inserting bull riding into the romance is at least a little different and adds an old-fashioned, Americana charm to the film that I didn’t mind.

The Longest Ride is vintage Sparks in that it is corny and schmaltzy and a complete fantasy. It is also predictable, though, without giving too much away, not as predictable as some of Sparks’s other efforts, especially in how he decides to bring the story to a close. It’s not a conclusion I liked, but at least it doesn’t go down the exact same bittersweet path as some of his other films. And look, Sparks’s movies are the opposite of a box of chocolates — you always know what you’re gonna get — and in this case the quality of the chocolates are better than usual. What I’m trying to say, against my better judgment, is that I quite enjoyed it.

3.5 stars out of 5