Tomorrowland (2015)

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Flying high with impacting visions of future, this Disney movie based on zones in their theme parks shows oncoming days as both magnificent and dangerous. This is perhaps its strongest asset in amongst a movie that is rather average to tell the truth. The story jolts up and down, it goes on more than a fraction too long and it ends in complete dissatisfaction.

Words from Frank Walker (George Clooney) lead us into the narrative as we hear his grumbled take on the world before a more chipper Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) tells her story. Both Frank and Casey are open minded souls who share similarities in getting the chance to see a place called Tomorrowland. It’s here that they realise how their skills could affect the countdown for Earth.

The film is visually gorgeous, from the simple tool of a nifty pin badge we warp back and forth into the future. The concept could have perhaps benefited from being honed a little more, it’s grandest day out is when seeing the exploration of this objects power as Casey tries to navigate a corn field whilst still actually being at home. After that, this neat idea is dropped which is annoying. Tomorrowland does sparkle and gleam and will echo as most childhood visions of what the future would appear like and this film clearly looks like a lot of computer time and money went into it.

Brad Bird from Pixar days tackles only his second live action feature and does mostly well in a fun and spritley film that screams Disney giddiness for the ages. It’s not explosive or groundbreaking but it’s got heart and his direction sees the escapist dramas of Casey and Frank done in a tense yet harmless manner which is perfectly fine. It just starts looking less interesting by the time we get into the last third and along with the drifting script you almost forget how stunning this movie once was.

Bird, Damon Lindelof and Jeff Jensen come together as a trio writing team but perhaps like Fluffy, three heads are not better than one as the initial rocketing magic of the script sours by the time the movie ends. As stated the visual concept begins drooping but so does the writing too and the payoff for this film’s running threat of world doom is weak. Also the conclusion of the monitor/screens/worldwide danger thread is slightly baffling that it needs to be thought about how they come to work on the happy solution, so children of 12 and under wouldn’t grasp the more techno-babble of this film at all. There’s nothing largely comedic in the writing either which I was hoping for in what could easily have had laugh worthy aspects, burps stand out as the only thing that made the audience giggle. I must say though, that one of the finer qualities is the idea of society going down the drain, this plot point is close to the bone and sticks out as a worryingly real notion for a 12A movie and I do like that troubling view on our future.

Britt Robertson has that exciting young presence and plays the gifted Casey with enough spirit to keep you on her side. She’s an actress with a few other films and TV appearances but this biggie may put her on more radars. George Clooney does as Clooney always does but a later shot of him with old time gal pal is emotional. Hugh Laurie is the brainy villain and plays Nix with a terrifyingly real purpose, his stance on letting humanity die and avoiding their ruin is mildly justified for how bad the world is but of course it’s dark and Laurie’s almost unbothered expressions sells the evil at a perfect level. Raffey Cassidy is a delightful presence as posh robotic Athena. In my eyes she steals the show from under Robertson.

Tomorrowland has the necessary moral of dreaming big and not giving up hope running through its grand scope of whizzing CGI delight, there may sometimes be too much but it’s plenty to keep younger audience goers entertained. It does have a joyous feel and an ambitious idea but this is a sci-fi stumble.

5.5/10

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