Tomorrowland full movie review - Ambitious, Visually Stunning, Evocative, and Strikes a Major Cord
Reviewed by: Dare Devil Kid (DDK)
Rating: 3.8/5 stars
In the modern world, youngsters are decreasingly optimistic about their chances of having an impact on the world in which they live. "Tomorrowland" hopes to turn that concept on its head by giving the youth around the world a lofty goal to which to aspire.
Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) is a passionate, dedicated young woman. Her father (Tim McGraw), a NASA engineer, is on the brink of losing his job as the premiere-international, space-research agency dismantles one of its legendary shuttle launch pads. Through careful midnight excursions, she disables vehicles and ensures that work will prolong each day just a bit longer. Eventually, she's apprehended. After being released, she discovers a bright pin among her belongings that allows her to see a vision of an alternate dimension for which she craves.
When the medallion loses its power, Casey goes in search of this Utopia, uncovering a strange conspiracy that prevents the world from discovering that this future not only exists, but the real world in which we live is also headed toward a major catastrophe. Alongside an aging conspiracy junkie (George Clooney) and an automaton/super- android from this futuristic world (Raffey Cassidy), she embarks on an odyssey to save the future and ensure that those who can realize it get their inspiration.
Walt Disney may have been a flawed individual, but there's no denying that he always had a profound passion for molding the minds of young viewers and encouraging them to reach out beyond their moribund existences and strive to become something better. Created on a strict budget from 1955 to 1956, Tomorrowland was envisioned as a part of Disneyland that would highlight the future, focus on scientific discovery,and act as a catalyst for impressionable minds. Disney's feature version, directed by gifted action-helmer Brad Bird, strives to encapsulate Walt's massive vision of a bright and optimistic future and Bird, along with co-writers Damon Lindelof and Jeff Jensen, largely succeed.
Aided in no small part by the talented Robertson, "Tomorrowland" keeps the action intense for large parts of the film, slowing down just long enough to give the audience an idea of what's going on. Perhaps a bit too motivated by verbal recitation of backstory, the concept is solid and mostly transcends those minor drawbacks. Robertson infuses Casey with the type of wide-eyed wonder we often envisage our young visionaries having. Her constant perky desire to explore and expand her knowledge is infectious, rooting the audience clearly in favor of her victory, however expected it is. She's a charming, affable presence that frequently boosts her co-stars' scenes, even those she shares with the incredibly familiar Clooney.
Clooney seems particularly well suited to working alongside young actors. As was evident in "The Descendants" when he starred alongside the sublime, Oscar-worthy Shailene Woodley, he recognizes when his scene partners need to shine beyond him, and relinquishes those moments with little concern for his own ego. Clooney and Robertson work so well together that it would be great to see them show up in future features together.
"Tomorrowland's" loving appreciation for the strength of its characters' passions enables the audience to feel emotionally invested in their success. It's a Disney film, so their success is largely guaranteed even if the obstacles in the way are particularly onerous. This inevitability isn't a detriment in this case. It improves the film's credibility as a visionary exploration of bolstered self-confidence. It wants the audience to identify with the characters so that they'll be inspired to break out of the conformity that seems to be constantly pressing in on them in today's society It wants us all to see that the future can only happen if we fight for it. Letting others create and advance our culture while we're perpetually absolved of responsibility creates a passive society, one which can be more easily manipulated by those in power.
I would seldom give Disney credit for subversion, since many of its films are cotton candy commodities designed to rake in boatloads of cash. However, Bird is a byproduct of the Pixar brain trust, a group accustomed to taking on subversive topics in the guise of free- market entertainment. "Tomorrowland" owes a great deal of its inspiration to the works of Pixar, where topics of concern for our modern world are embellished with grand adventures and humor. While not nearly as perfect as many of those Pixar efforts, the influence is obvious and the result all but approaches that level of excellence.