Disney’s Tomorrowland is a lightweight romp through alternate dimensions and potential futures. The movie had its flaws (and they were not few), but it was so much FUN to watch that I didn’t care anywhere near as much as I normally would.
The movie tells two tales: one of Frank Walker (George Clooney), a promising young inventor who becomes disillusioned and bitter; and the other of Casey Newton (Britt Robertson), a girl who “gets how things work” and puts her talents to a series of good uses. The two stories intertwine through Athena, the young girl (played with the perfect balance of innocence and creepiness by the promising Raffey Cassidy) who introduces both of them to Tomorrowland.
But it turns out tomorrow isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and the well-intentioned villain Governor Nix (played with brilliant deadpan by Hugh Laurie), in trying to save people from themselves, is about to destroy the world. Sort of. In any case, the world needs saving, and the job falls to Frank, Casey, and Athena.
There are many things Tomorrowland does well. The casting director did a fantastic job. All the actors (even Laurie) seemed to genuinely have fun with their parts. I very much enjoyed seeing Clooney in a not-remotely-heartthrob-ish role, and he played it well.
I loved how the movie’s creators tried to show the COOL, fun, innovative side of science, the stuff that invokes one’s sense of wonder, instead of just showing the usual “technology run amok will destroy us all!” line of thought. That line is in there, too, of course, but the main focus remains on the sense-of-wonder stuff.
The effects were fantastic. I especially enjoyed the retro-future feel of Tommowland’s “commercial” and absolutely all the visuals of the Eiffel Tower sequence.
The story doesn’t try to be more than it is. Tomorrowland doesn’t try to be edgy. It doesn’t try to be dark or gritty. With the plethora of grim, post-apocalyptic and/or dystopian fare lately, I found it marvelously refreshing to see a movie that shows a bright, amazing potential future and gleefully proclaims that small changes CAN make a big (and positive!) difference.
There are also several things Tomorrowland did not do well. Its handling of the “you can make a difference!” theme got pretty heavy-handed at times. Great theme, loved the theme, didn’t need to be beaten over the head with it, thanks.
Nix’s most directly villainous act made no sense for his character at that point in the story. He’s supposed to be a man of science, too, after all, and there were several points at which his character (and that character’s story arc in general) seemed to abandon reason in favor of “because the script says so.”
Also, the frame format of the story, in my opinion, did not work well. The beginning part of the frame felt disjointed and superfluous, and the ending part of the frame failed to resolve a couple of fairly important things set up in the beginning part.
On the whole, though flawed, Tomorrowland is a delightful movie that I definitely plan to watch again.
Release Date: May 22, 2015 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG
Original Title: Tomorrowland
Language: 1 (occasional use of minor expletives)
Violence: 3 (fair amount of death, for a PG film, but none of it is graphic)