Tomorrowland: Film Review
Cast: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie
Director: Brad Bird
"Do I have to explain everything? Can't you just be amazed?"
The very loose story of Tomorrowland (and believe me, it's best going in unprepared as the appeal of the puzzle will be lost in endless inspection and scrutiny) centres around Britt Robertson's Casey. She's an eternal optimist, a dreamer determined to ensure the space gantry at Cape Canaveral won't be dismantled for fears of her father's unemployment. But when she's arrested and bailed for sabotage, she finds a Tomorrowland pin among her belongings. Touching the pin reveals a futuristic world to her - and she sets out to unravel the enigma of the pin, putting her on collision course with the mysterious Frank Walker.
Tomorrowland is an intriguing mix of a retro future, first pioneered by an altruistic Walt Disney who wanted the next day to be better than the last (and which ultimately led to the creation of the EPCOT centre)
And to be fair, in its visuals from Incredibles director Brad Bird, Tomorrowland certainly doesn't skimp on the spectacle, bathing the film in retro nods for the geek crowd and leaving you reminscing over 50s B movie matinees.
Every young dreamer will be taken in by the promise of Tomorrowland, a world where jetpacks are in daily use (this film launches as strong a case for George Clooney to be in a Rocketeer remake than any), monorails glide through the sky and, in one of the film's stand out FX pieces, people dive from one mid-air swimming pool to another with reckless abandon.
But ultimately, Tomorrowland is as much about smoke and mirrors as anything else.
Bird - along with co-writer Damon Lindelof - have created a world of eternal optimism, so awash in the Disney corporate line that I'm surprised screenings don't come complete with free Koolaid to wash the "Anything is possible" lecture down. While portions of Tomorrowland extend the riddle of the central premise nicely, the ultimate reveal is a disappointment, swathed in preachy lectures of what we've done to the world, what we could do and really, what we should do in a brain-washing finale that's redolent of "I'd like to give the world a Coke"
Clooney has his moments, but his character's bitterness is never fully explained (one of the film's flaws is it doesn't exactly dump exposition on you, choosing to distract you every time a character demands to know what's going on during its 130 minute run time and leaving you clamouring for some coherent explanation of what's what); Laurie's pompous Wizard of Oz like man behind the curtain is about as unthreatening as anything Disney's ever proffered up - and it's really only Robertson's vulnerable and plucky turn as Casey which feels fleshed out, giving the film a heart and heroine which it sorely needs.
It may end up appealing in parts to its younger audience more who have less cynicism than most, but on its occasional meandering and circuitous route to its ultimate destination, it could mean the journey isn't quite as fun and as thrilling as perhaps it could have been.