The futuristic metropolis of Tomorrowland, a unique civilization built by visionaries with supremely advanced technologies, is a utopia for the optimistic; with it being devoid of both political distractions and physical limitations- A city built by and for dreamers.
Synopsis (Warning: May contain spoilers, duh!)
The Gist of It: A former boy genius jaded by disillusionment and a bright, optimistic teen bursting with scientific curiosity embark on a dangerous mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space known only as “Tomorrowland”; what they must do there changes the world, and them, forever.
‘Tomorrowland’ begins with young inventor Frank Walker (Thomas Robinson) attending the historic 1964 New York World’s Fair with a self –made rocket pack in tow. Wowed by the staggering display of cutting-edge technology, Frank finds himself pulled into the futuristic world of Tomorrowland; a place that’s a natural extension of the minds of Verne, Tesla and Edison where human ambition is encouraged to thrive and anything seems possible.
Initially impressed by Walker’s invention, tech guru David Nix (Hugh Laurie) dismisses Frank’s invention upon learning that it can’t actually do what it was intended to do- which is fly. Nix’s assistant, Athena (Raffey Cassidey), a mysterious young girl, is intrigued by Frank and introduces him to the secret realm of Tomorrowland; a place where science and progress thrive at a rate well ahead of Earth and is home to some highly imaginative futuristic design.
After the ’60s intro, the film skips forward to the present to pick up the story with Casey Newton (Britt Robertson), an inquisitive-minded teen who lives near the old Cape Canaveral NASA base with her soon-to-be-unemployed NASA engineer father (Tim McGraw) and younger brother Nate (Pierce Gagnon). Arrested for trying to sabotage the demolition of the NASA launch site, Casey is bailed out of lock-up and discovers a mysterious pin among her returned possessions. The pin gives Casey a fleeting glimpse of Tomorrowland and finds herself drawn into a web of intrigue as she discovers a whole new world where science-fiction dreams seem to have become reality.
Athena, still a young girl, then contacts Casey and attempts to take both her and the now adult Frank Walker (George Clooney) to Tomorrowland, which is now lying in ruins, in an attempt to save the realm. The oddly matched duo team up with Tomorrowland exile Athena and soon find themselves confronting killer robots and reinvigorating jaded mentors; soon discovering that the fate of the Earth is resting in their hands.
‘Tomorrowland’ is a quintessential Disney movie with grand scale and scope, innovative storytelling, and amazing special effects. There is no question considerable money was spent in the awe-inspiring production design. For instance, one sequence that involves the Eiffel Tower brilliantly fires up the imagination while Tomorrowland itself is brought to life in vivid detail; monorails weave through giant towers, robots and civilians work together in unison, and sleek vehicles cut through the sky effortlessly.
Tomorrowland’s infrastructural marvels and ideas hark to sixties utopianism: tiered swimming pools, astro-commutes, brilliant monolithic structures, and beautiful tangles of airborne boulevards. With the characters feeling part of this world, as they actively walk through and interact with some of Tomorrowland’s inhabitants and surroundings, this sense of perspective creates a scale and texture that makes ‘Tomorrowland’ consequently more believable and impressive.
As befitting its fascination with fifties and sixties science-fiction iconography, Tomorrowland throws out high concepts with some unrestraint. ‘Tomorrowlands’ direction keeps the film moving forward with enough speed that the audience never really stops to question or to nitpick what is happening; the basic ideas are strong enough to reel the audience in, even if there is some sizeable logical gaps.
The first half of the film coasts along with a breezy pace and you’ll find yourself warming to the pro-science agenda and intrigue factor. However, the narrative will have you scratching your head whilst the story continues to leave an explanation just out of the characters’ reach; and it seems as though not even the filmmakers seem to have an answer.
Fortunately, the action is well-choreographed and exciting while the special effects are undoubtedly top notch; from the spectacular production design to the impressive cinematography, and even the vibrant film score makes this film such a sensory triumph of sound and visual.
To complement this, George Clooney admirably delivers a cynical-burned-out-inventor-turned-heroic-world-saver performance as Frank Walker, with his trademark snarky quips that bounce off the younger cast to great effect; it’s somewhat jarring to see him playing a character who, initially, is so at odds with his usual wise-cracking screen persona.
Finally, ‘Tomorrowland’ seems to desperately grasp for an era that is now long lost and explicitly pleas to the modern generation to abandon their own visions of the future and embrace those of their predecessors; to prevent the world from becoming a bleak, post-apocalyptic landscape. It is a fascinating conflict at the heart of the film, and not necessarily one that is comfortably resolved; there are aspects of ‘Tomorrowland’ that do feel distinctly uncomfortable and contradictory.
Ultimately, ‘Tomorrowland’ has its heart in the right place, but it occasionally gets a little lost.
Taking its name and inspiration from the futuristic themed area at Disneyland, ‘Tomorrowland’ is mostly packed with dazzling animations that expertly blends heart, spectacle, and nostalgia; only occasionally not quite living up to the level of those aforementioned offerings. It is, however, buoyantly optimistic. ‘Tomorrowlands’ breezy and upbeat swing at something original is a refreshing contrast that is skewed towards a younger audience. It is the embodiment of high-spirited adventure that’ll appeal to fans of the new-era Doctor Who; as opposed to the onslaught of comic book movies and sequels that have been invading the big screens lately.
Even though ‘Tomorrowland’ is a time-traveling caper that works hard to suggest some secret magical world is operating just behind the mundane reality that we all take for granted, it’s giddy visual whimsies and exuberant cartoon-like violence tries to cover-up an uneven, and sometimes clumsily told story, an in-your-face social message, and fully-embodied clichés that signify very little.
What is more unfortunate is that ‘Tomorrowland’ gets caught in a friction between wanting to provide a reasonably accessible family adventure whilst also wanting to intrigue the more mature audience with an involving Sci-Fi story. It attempts to explain Tomorrowland itself as something made by ‘dreamers’, but it’s a vague concept that the movie struggles to tie down to a plot that is both relatable and logical.
Ultimately, this is a film of great individual moments that doesn’t quite add up to a winning whole. The script leans heavily on mystery, slowly and frustratingly drip-feeding answers before rushing to tie things up neatly in a finale that lacks a satisfying pay-off (and fails to deliver on the promise of an evil Hugh Laurie).
Even though ‘Tomorrowland’ doesn’t reach its full potential, it has all the big and interesting ideas that could have turned this into a cinematic masterpiece for the modern generation; nonetheless it remains a fascinating high-concept blockbuster with ample amount of entertainment value.
Favourite Line: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
Release Date: 21st May, 2015