Flying jetpacks, daily rockets to the moon and robot that help us in daily lives; this all sounds like something that you would find on The Jetsons. This, a long with much of the science fiction before 1970, showed a future where everything has become easier and where mankind has put aside their differences to make the world a high tech candy land. I recall watching that cartoon a long with the more optimistic future ideas from Walt Disney on the Disney Channel, back when they had a Vault Disney segment in the evenings. Being that this was the vision of the world of today, what was my world of tomorrow going to be like?
The future that I had grown up with had turned out much darker. I’m not talking about the world were living in, but the ones that have been presented to us in film and television. The ones where killer machines, deadly weather or even totalitarian governments have stolen our tomorrow. Why the sudden shake up with the way we have shown the future. I trace it back to the energy crisis of the seventies where people suddenly realized that to power ourselves, we still need energy and resources that could abruptly run out. With a future of fear, the heroes of Tomorrowland look to fix the future.
A young woman Casey (played by Britt Robertson) is a brilliant optimist who truly believes in what our future can be and hates listening to the current news of climate change, political turmoil and third world countries starving. She gets arrested after attempting to sabotage a construction crew from demolishing the NASA shuttle launching point that her father Eddie (played by Tim McGraw) works for. Upon receiving her items back from the police, one such piece is a pin that when touched, finds herself in a beautiful futuristic city where anything is possible.
She’s confronted by a young girl Athena (played by Raffey Cassidy) who reveal herself as a audio animatronic who was built in the wonderful place called Tomorrowland. Upon asking how to get there, Athena leads Casey to the home of the last person to go there, Frank Walker. Upon arriving, Frank (played by George Clooney) is a grumpy hermit who refuses to do anything. An attack by other robots changes his mind and with rocket bathtubs, a spaceship inside the Eiffel Tower and teleportation, they make it to Tomorrowland where it’s leader David Nix (played by Hugh Laurie) has given up on the future. Casey believes it can be fixed.
With Brad Bird (director of The Incredibles, and Ratatouille) running the show, expectations were very high to deliver a high-octane, engaging mystery about a future that could have been. Honestly, It’s not up there, but I still had fun. All of the actors (especially newcomer Raffey Cassidy) are great. The look and design of Tomorrowland is amazing. This is one of best looking high tech worlds I’ve seen (they make it clear it’s a vision from the past) and makes me want to step into the film to take a stroll.
The actors, design, and even the journey is all ready to go. What falters is the story. For a movie that’s based on a land at Disneyland, it’s surprisingly complicated that took me a while to patch up the pieces to understand what was going on. The first half, which was more of a chase scenario, was great. Once they get to Tomorrowland, the story tries to juggle having a positive outlook on the future and saving the Earth, but it’s that kind of complicated storytelling that will turn off a mainstream audience that Disney is usually accustomed to catering.
I’ll give this four pins out of five. I felt happy enough with this optimistic story that I think most families will enjoy this. I’d say that children are the best audience for this. It’s not that adults won’t like it (I’m twenty-eight and I liked it), but it’s the film’s message that most children need to hear these days. I’d say that if your willing to have a great big beautiful tomorrow, then Tomorrowland will make for a satisfying summer movie, though not much of a conversation starter.