Brad Bird’s (Mission Impossible 4) latest live-action adventure tells the story of two people thrown together in extraordinary circumstances. A disillusioned and aging former boy-genius, Frank, (George Clooney) and optimist teenager, Casey Newton, ( Britt Robertson) find their destinies linked by a mysterious futurist world known as ‘Tomorrowland’.
Frank begins the film by narrating his wonderful story of how he came to find Tomorrowland. Then we meet rebellious Casey in the modern day. While being released from Police custody, she is handed a pin? A pin she has never seen before, but one that the officer says is hers? The pin in question, when touched, allows her to see into a technologically advanced wonderland. Once her eyes are opened to this utopia she embarks on a fantastical action pack adventure to unearth the secrets of this mysterious place.
This is Disney’s latest attempt to translate part of their iconic theme park onto the silver screen, and it looks visually spectacular. Clooney is a joy to watch as the grumpy eccentric inventor, that was once a gleeful young boy living in Tomorrowland in 1960’s. Britt Robertson is perfectly cast as the optimist teen, who balances out the cynicism of her sidekick. Hugh Laurie plays the not so evil, David Nix, who is the head of Tomorrowland. Unfortunately, it is with this bad guy that just isn’t that bad, that the film starts to go off course.
Tomorrowland seemed to not be able to decide on a tone. It switches from sci-fi adventure to goofy comedy, to sentimental pop video. There seems to be a tug of war between the message; it would have been clearer as a pure sci-fi film with the moral lessons more subtle. The film begins strongly and does feature some fantastic escapist scenes.
The main problem with Tomorrowland is that it isn’t giving its audience credit to interpret its message, instead choosing to blatantly stamp it on the tail end of the film. This fails to leave the emotional impact of the likes of WALL-E, and Bird’s previous film The Incredibles; where social commentary was evident yet remained interpretive.
A spectacular visual treat, that doesn’t quite seem to have decided its purpose. Tomorrowland is a fun action-packed roller coaster ride that loses momentum toward the end.
Tomorrowland is in NZ Cinemas from 28 May.
Reviewed by Ingrid Grenar & Ian Wright