A section of Disneyland since 1955, Tomorrowland represents the possibility and optimism in post-war America. Brought to life by director Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles), the Tomorrowland of this film represents both possibility and failure. Greed and complacency has almost driven the world to a point of no return. Could Tomorrowland be the beacon of hope so desperately needed? Tomorrowland is reviewed after the jump.
Young Frank Walker (Thomas Robinson) was a dreamer. He hopped on a bus and took his jet pack to the 1964 World Fair in the hope of winning the $50 prize. He didn’t win the prize, but he did obtain a special pin which gave him entry to Tomorrowland, a futuristic world where nothing was impossible. Or, that’s what they told him anyway. Years on and Frank (George Clooney) is living in a fortified home in rural America. His isolation is interrupted by the arrival of Casey (Brit Robertson), an intelligent, rebellious young woman with a love of space travel. She’s been given one of the special pins by Athena (Raffey Cassidy), just like Frank had been given five decades earlier.
While the purpose of her arrival is not exactly clear to either of them, it comes at a time when the world is in turmoil. Riots, political uprising, natural disasters – there doesn’t seem to be anything other than negativity in the atmosphere. Does Tomorrowland hold the key to reversing the relentless decline? Or have the Earth and its inhabitants used up all the chances they’re going to get?
There’s a sense of wonderment in Tomorrowland which can be found in the likes of ET and Super 8. Flying cars, jet packs, lifelike robots and space rockets hidden in plain sight. These scientific fantasies and more are brought to life in this film. But the wonder is more than these things; it comes from the endless possibilities that the young people in the film believe in. Where there are problems, they see solutions. They think big and they’ll do whatever it takes to achieve their goals. They are dreamers – they are the people who can save us. They’re also the audience – expressing amazement and delight in what they are seeing before them.
The dreamers are the part of this film that works. What doesn’t work so well are the huge themes and ideas that are almost haphazardly introduced into the film, well into its second half. Suddenly the film becomes anti-capitalist, environmental and concerned with the empathetic and greedy nature of the human race. These are life questions, these aren’t topics you attempt to cover in less than an hour and the film barely skims the surface. Cramming these big topics in the back-end of the film makes it feel messy and unfocused. There are definite issues with the screenplay and based on past work, you could make a guess who to lay the blame with.
George Clooney plays the cantankerous old Frank well, but it’s the young cast who shine here. Britt Robertson is particularly great – showing both toughness and vulnerability. Her character’s [mostly] non-nonsense attitude was a fun pairing with Clooney’s crotchety nature.
While the themes may be a tad morose, there’s a lot of fun to be had. Tomorrowland itself is a wonderful place, with lots of fun gadgets and futuristic inventions that feel far beyond reality. There’s also some great chase/escape sequences, with the sequence in Frank’s home a definite highlight. This film is rated PG, but I would caution that it is at the higher end of this category. The violence, while not gory, could be upsetting to younger children. A sense of adventure is most certainly required.
Dream big or go home. Tomorrowland invites you to embrace the idea that nothing is impossible.
By Sam McCosh
Director: Brad Bird
Writer(s): Brad Bird & Damon Lindelof (screenplay)
Starring: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie, Raffey Cassidy, Thomas Robinson
Runtime: 130 minutes
Release date(s): USA: May 22 2015; Australia & New Zealand: May 28 2015