Director: Brad Bird
Starring: George Clooney, Brittany Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, Hugh Laurie, and Kathryn Hahn
Walt Disney Pictures
A young boy brings an invention, a rocket pack made from household materials, to the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. After a failed demonstration he is given a souvenir pin by a young girl that serves as an invitation to a technologically advanced world known as Tomorrowland. Walt Disney’s affinity for technology and the wide possibilities of advancement that could exist for the future are on full display in director Brad Bird’s “Tomorrowland”. Bird has demonstrated a talent for portraying the conflict that exists between imagination and conformity through his films and the theme continues here if a little more heavy handed than in past films. Bird is a great director, bringing a childlike sense of wonder with nostalgic settings, futuristic cities, and characters whose dreams hold no limitations. “Tomorrowland” has all the exciting flash and flair of action and adventure seen throughout Bird’s film catalog but unfortunately stumbles as a script that unevenly focuses on cautionary ideas of humanities contribution to self-destruction and the hopeful possibilities of unrestrained imagination.
Casey (Britt Robertson) has an exceptionally mind, one that is utilized to break into NASA’s launch facility at Cape Canaveral in an attempt to delay demolition. Casey is caught by authorities and sent to jail. Upon release she finds a souvenir pin for Tomorrowland in her belongings. The moment she touches the pin she is whisked to a world of wonder, a place where she believes anything is possible. Unfortunately there is a mysterious group on the hunt for perspective Tomorrowland candidates but a young girl named Athena (Raffey Cassidy) offers Casey information and protection. Athena sends Casey to a man named Frank (George Clooney), a former member of Tomorrowland, to assist her in saving the world.
Frank, a jaded inventor, makes a statement about how the future looked different when he was a kid. This statement made early in the film is immediately followed by interruptions from an optimistic young person. “Tomorrowland” uses this contrasting feature quite often throughout the film, displaying the cautious, analytical, and sometimes-negative attitudes lamented with age against the hopeful, encouraging, and sometimes-naive sentiments of youth. When this works the film builds a wonderful dichotomy of age, societal perspectives, and technological awareness. When this doesn’t work, more often than expected, is when the film languishes in its own self-aware and indulgent need to finger point and chastise. Though the opinions are necessary and very truthful here, it doesn’t work when the film breaks the pace to indulge with long-winded monologues or extended visions of humanity’s destruction.
The film evokes some early Spielberg-ish qualities; young people tasked with responsibility in an adult world against the backdrop of American nostalgia and futuristic concepts. And the creations found in Tomorrowland, jet packs, a maze of slender skyscrapers, and a hovering monorail, are just a few of the well composed designs.
It’s unfortunate that the script doesn’t accommodate these nice touches. Brad Bird is a smart director who struggles to find the aim of the themes here. “Tomorrowland” feels in small moments like some of Bird’s better work, “Iron Giant” and “The Incredibles” come to mind, unfortunately the film lingers then lunges then lingers again. Much like the jet packs that stream the skies of Tomorrowland in an early scene, the film maneuvers without much aim.
3.00 out of 5.00