Growing up, Disney films - especially animations - have played a big part in my life. There was a delusional sense of awe to seeing the ingenious stories translate to the big-screen. The studio's latest project (a live action sci-fi), Tomorrowland, takes us back to their glory days - encapsulating a mystical, magical and wonderful world.
Up until now, we've been given a basic idea as to what this film is about. The trailers told us just enough to fuel our excitement. This film has been (and still is) shrouded in secrecy. It's a rarity these days to go into a film having such little idea as to what it's actually about; with too many trailers, clips and featurettes basically giving away the whole thing (taken The Amazing Spider-Man 2, for example). And, that's in no way a bad thing. In fact, frankly, the less you know about Tomorrowland, the better.
So, in that regard, summarising the plot of Tomorrowland, void of any spoilers and keeping my explanation short and coherent is difficult. We're introduced to young inventor and genius Frank Walker (Thomas Robinson), at the 1964 World Fair. There, he bumps into Raffey Cassidy's charming Athena - a weird little girl that has the job of selecting a gifted, special few and taking them to a futuristic utopia full of ideas and inventions. The two hop into a boat ride and are soon transported to this mysterious world.
Jumping a few years ahead, we're introduced to Casey Newton (Britt Roberston) - who also has the ability to travel to this stunning world, via a magic pin (brought upon her person by the aforementioned Athena) that, upon being touched, transports her there. Wanting answers, she seeks the help of the former boy genius Frank - now a grumpy recluse, played by an older George Clooney - and the pair quickly embark on a dangerous journey full of wonder and futuristic gizmos to find out more about this world: Tomorrowland.
Making his second venture into live-action with this project, following Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, at the helm of it all, is Brad Bird. The director - whose previous work also includes Ratatouille, The Incredibles and Iron Giant - has a tremendous track record for big, fun, ingenious films and it looks like the trend is only continuing with Tomorrowland. The film is bursting with crazy, colourful ideas; one after the other.
The imagination to this world that Bird has created is limitless. With gleaming, towering monuments to a sleek, futuristic looking skyline, Tomorrowland is the place every one dreamed of going to when they were little. From big robot battles to flying bathtubs to shiny jet packs and nifty house traps, the wonder and surrealism of this film is simply breathtaking; making you feel like a little 10 year old kid again. The visuals and effects only add to this, all so seamless and gorgeous as Bird whisks us away to this dazzling dimension.
Of course, as is expected, it's when we're in Tomorrowland itself that the film truly shines: so wonderfully fun. However, this leads to the time back in reality to drag on a little. There's so much going on that the whole plot can get too bogged down on its own science and ideas, becoming overly complex and convoluted - which really hinders the proceedings, especially considering this is a film primarily targeted for kids.
After a furiously energetic and absorbing first hour and a half of the film though, Tomorrowland really starts to slip up in its third, and final, act. The further we progress, the more this starts to fall downhill as the plot begins to get all knotty by trying to answer all sorts of questions about this enchanting world. The whole film builds up to the spectacular pay-off and, honestly, it was anything but spectacular. The reveal of the antagonist and the unravelling of the plot's mysteries were just so clichéd and not too well handled that it really drags the overall marvellous film down. The message of having optimism about tech and the future is an inspiring, important one. However, the way it was delivered wasn't as great.
As far as the acting goes, everyone is fantastic. Clooney knocks it out of the park and he looks like he's having the time of his life whilst doing so. We don't tend to see him in these types of sci-fi extravaganzas so it was great seeing him take on this project. Hugh Laurie was also good, as always. Raffey Cassidy, who portrayed Athena, was outstanding. For a 12 year old, this actress gave a splendid performance. It's clear she has a bright future ahead of her.
Although, this is Britt Robertson's film and she was utterly remarkable as our protagonist. Not only did she bring a lot of heart and warmth to the role but there was a nice, Jennifer Lawrence-esque charisma about her that lit up her performance even more. There was some palpable chemistry between her and Clooney too, making things that little bit better and more believable.
Overall, it's hard to criticise Tomorrowland. With unique, original films running slim, this is about as unique and original as you're going to get. Sure enough, Bird's project is based on the Disneyland theme-park zone but it's more so a homage to Walt Disney's awestruck and enthusiastic vision on the world and the future than it is "a cash grab." The future isn't something that should be feared. We should embrace it and that's exactly the morale Tomorrowland embodies; using a gleaming, ambitious and super fun cinematic experience as the catalyst to fire this up.
Bursting with energy and ingenuity, Tomorrowland is crazy, ambitious and will leave you star-struck and in awe - feeling like an excited little kid again.
About the Author
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.