Directed by: Brad Bird
Starring: George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy
Run time: 2hr 10min
This science fiction, futuristic, Disney branded, Epcot inspired film seems more like an advert to visit the same named theme parks in Disney rather than a film at times. 'You like the film so why not experience it all for yourself at our Tomorrowland Park in Disney Hong Kong'.
Disney, of course, are no strangers to making a ride/theme park into a film, they have done it before with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise - and that was a huge success. So, let’s not contradict ourselves just yet.
The film was developed and written under huge secrecy, it was in post-production with the title 1952. Brad Bird was appointed as director, he is responsible for films like Ratatouille, The Incredibles, The Iron Giant and more recently, Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol. Brad Bird had all the ingredients to make a Disney live action film successful: he was a Disney darling; had action film pedigree and had worked with some huge actors before. At this stage, the film had a major thumbs up from me. I just wanted to see what Brad Bird could create from a story that is never-ending and durable.
Tomorrowland is a futuristic land where engineers, inventors and dreamers are all collected from today and transported to this other land in another dimension to create a perfectly, harmonious place where they are free to create without prejudice, without government hindrance and without budgets, hence why Tomorrowland is unlike anything we have ever seen or likely to experience.
Expectations were high and the pressure surely large on Brad Birds shoulders. So it was imperative he assembled the right cast. Enter George Clooney, an actor that has destroyed more roles than saved. I will personally never forgive him with what he done with Batman, he is at times a lazy actor, giving the impression he only needs to turn up on set, read his lines and do that un-funny, embarrassing and ridiculed look (watch enough of his films and you'll know what I mean). I have possibly only seen two films that George Clooney in my opinion was good in, Three Kings and O Brother, Where Art Thou?, are decent performances. Needless to say that I wasn't looking forward to this film as much when this was announced.
I became disheartened and uninterested by this and kind of ignored everything else up to the point of actually watching it. Sitting down with great forcefulness and a stubbornness of already not wanting to like it, I watched Tomorrowland. And yes, I was wrong, I was woefully wrong. The film made me laugh, it made me smile and it made me realize truths about humanity. Clooney added all to that as well. His performance was calculated, well thought and inspirational. I can safely say I have never seen George Clooney place himself into a role and genuinely look like he cares or is enjoying it. Whatever Brad Bird said or did to George Clooney then hats off to him.
Obviously this film isn't all about George Clooney (although I'm making it sound that way). He isn't the main character either, Britt Robertson is, she plays the role of Casey Newton, a teenager who sabotages machinery on a cape Canaveral launch site as she believes it will affect the future, plus her dad is a NASA engineer, and with NASA pulling the plug on many missions and launches her dad will soon be out of a job. Her path is lead out as the one who can change the future, change what is about to happen to the world as we know it.
The film starts with both of these characters explaining how they managed to become interlinked and how they both became who they are. Both of their stories include an Audio-animatronic droid (robot to me and you) called Athena, a 13 year old girl who is wiser beyond her years. She is a recruiter of Tomorrowland, someone who finds and invites 'dreamers' to join Tomorrowland because of their specialist skill set or their desire to never give up. Athena is played by an exceptional young actress from England called Raffey Cassidy.
George Clooney’s character, Frank Water, meets Athena at a young age in the 1960s and is transported to Tomorrowland. The next time we see him he is a middle aged man who has been exiled from Tomorrowland and it is up to him, Athena and Casey to gain entry once again and destroy what had been created there. But, entering Tomorrowland is extremely difficult when it is closed and you have no invite.
The film sways between two separate stories at the start then combines into one to create the main focus of the story. It’s beautifully created, and the scenic backdrop of Tomorrowland is futuristic and hopefully wonderful. You are left wondering if that is what we are capable of if certain creators, builders and inventors were given full disposal.
This film was Disney's chance to perhaps prove what they can do with a science fiction backdrop and how this film could be a catalyst for the future of Disney, especially with their recently purchased Star Wars franchise set to take off. Tomorrowland isn't a great film, it is a good film, at times it seems rushed and maybe even looking at this as a two part film so we got more from the futuristic land and the characters. It frustrates me after watching a film feeling like you have enjoyed it but wanted so much more. I wanted more depth from the characters, I wanted more knowledge of Tomorrowland and I wanted to actually see what the gadgets that are just set props in the background actually do. It had everything there to be a great film, but it kind of trips up over itself with its inability to deliver real answers or any truth behind it. It makes you want to explore Tomorrowland so much that you end up googling it, and then the Disney theme park comes up with the same name, it just feels like it’s all done for that, extra tickets through the gates and extra people to see the real Tomorrowland. Ironic isn't it.
It's worth a watch just to experience Tomorrowland, the well-crafted story and the fantastic characters on show, just don't expect it to be on your top films of 2015 or even your top Disney films.
My rating of Tomorrowland: 6/10
Written by Thomas Faulkner
Posted on 30/09/2015
by Sue Cawte