In the words of Walt Disney, “Tomorrow can be a wonderful age”, but what if that age wasn’t so far off into the future, but in a parallel universe? This is the concept behind Disney and Brad Bird’s new film, Tomorrowland starring George Clooney, Hugh Laurie and Britt Robertson.
Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) is an extremely bright teenager who gets the invitation of a lifetime; to join people like her in Tomorrowland. The problem is, she has no idea how to get there. With the help of the mysterious Athena (Raffey Cassidy) and former boy genius and Tomorrowland resident, Frank Walker (George Clooney), can they make it back and fix the mistakes of the past?
If the title of the film sounds familiar, then you clearly have been to one of the Disneyland Parks and have visited Tomorrowland yourself. The concept for the themed area was to show people what the world of tomorrow could look like, but as it was unveiled in the 60s, this leaves itself open for becoming Todayland or worse, Yesterdayland. Luckily they thought about this and Tomorrowland is actually in its 3rd generation in the parks, but how does this reflect in the film?
Well actually, there is no direct mention of Disney at all. The film begins with Frank as a young boy who travels to the New York World’s Fair where he presents his invention to Nix (Hugh Laurie) in the Hall of Inventors. He ends up following them onto a boat ride that leads him to transportation to Tomorrowland. This boat ride is basically the Disney ride “It’s a Small World” but it can’t be because it’s not in Disneyland. The only other Disney reference I could see is in the posters (and briefly in one of the trailers) you can see Space Mountain, the famous rollercoaster from the theme parks. Otherwise this definitely seems to take a side step away from its birthplace if you will and as much as it is inspired by the themed area, this is not going to lead to young kids trying to find the hidden passageways to get to Tomorrowland. Probably a smart move.
I have to say, the casting for Young Frank was perfect as Thomas Robinson genuinely looks like a young George Clooney. It was great to see Clooney in something a little more child friendly as he is known for being a big kid on set, pulling pranks and the likes so it was refreshing. The character of Frank has become disillusioned (basically he’s a grumpy ol’ sod who has removed himself from society) so having Casey around, who is the eternal optimist, you can see the light starting to come back into his eyes and his heart. I should comment that with George being a big kid, he clearly had great chemistry with Britt and Raffey. With Frank and Athena knowing each other since he was a kid, George and Raffey had to portray a very difficult relationship with a lot of history, without it coming across as creepy which they did thankfully. I also have to applaud Raffey for really holding her own with George and for not shying away from him which would have been understandable.
Britt’s character Casey is really the glue that holds the whole film together and she is quirky, smart, caring, ambitious and very admirable. As I already said she is the eternal optimist and even when faced with this new world that she sees when holding the Tomorrowland pin, strange people appearing in her life and even with her family, she is not afraid to break into NASA or chase down the pin’s origins or travel to a mysterious futuristic land with a strange grown man. Actually, now that I look at that list, this is probably not a safety awareness film, but it is fun nonetheless and Britt is just so loveable and daring that makes you feel like saying, “God I wish I was that cool at her age”.
The only thing that disappointed me was the role of Nix wasn’t as big as I expected. It all started so promising at the World Fair but then he disappeared for the majority of the film. Hugh Laurie is a fantastic actor and the scenes he was in were excellent so I was a bit disappointed we didn’t get to see more than that. I do wonder if there were any scenes that had been deleted that showed Nix watching over the parallel universe or something because he definitely seems to be not only very intelligent but also very controlling over the people of Tomorrowland and the invitations. I just expected more from the character so that’s the only warning I would give. Great character just not used enough.
Tomorrowland is out of this world, pardon the pun. The special effects are top notch, story is good for being based on a theme park area, and is just perfectly cast. The only downsides were my own expectations and that’s due to me knowing too much before going in. Open your mind and don’t be afraid to test the limits of technology, because who knows what tomorrow brings.