Tuesday, 2 June 2015


"Every day is the opportunity for a better tomorrow."

Brad Bird is a Disney favourite, having written and directed both The Incredibles and Ratatouille. Bird's first live-action foray for Disney is Tomorrowland, set in a futuristic world  where innovation is a treasured skill. The story has been inspired by Disney's concept 'worlds'/amusement rides 

In 1964, Frank Walker (Thomas Robinson) is a young inventor with somewhat working jetpack. However Frank's work fails to inspire David Nix (Hugh Laurie), who fails to see it as anything more than a toy. Frank's invention draws the eye of Athena (Raffey Cassidy) who sees his potential and provides him with a "T" pin. When Frank boards the "It's a Small World" ride, he's sent through a vortex into a futuristic world known as Tomorrowland. Blast forward several years and Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) is similarly enthusiastic about science and innovation. Athena repeats the same process with her and she travels to Tomorrowland to meet the older Frank Walker (George Clooney).

The fact that the pathway for Frank to get to the world of Tomorrowland happens to be a Disneyland ride says it all. This overtly optimistic, ambiguous mess of a film is full of fancy gadgets that I'm sure will make for great pieces of merchandise, but it fails to engage with any sort of quality storytelling. The core message that Bird is trying to get across to the younger audience is that imagination and innovation can make the world a better place, undoubtedly two of Disney's own strong points - They've played a key role in filmmaking technology over the years - and a worthy message it is, however it gets lost in the diluted plot lines, weird Disneyfied scenes of teenager 'rebellion' and a utopia that's ultimately as soulless as the characters that inhabit it.

With a massive budget and CGI focused imagery, Tomorrowland certainly looks gorgeous, which is one of its only strong points. The world itself pops from the screen and some of the elements feel a little steam-punk. However this is all ultimately rather superficial when the weak plot can't support the depth of the visuals. Character development is minimal at best, however the performances were decent enough. George Clooney is his usual self so his fans should be happy. I absolutely love Hugh Laurie and he makes the best of the material at his disposal. Also noteworthy is Thomas Robinson who plays the young Frank very well.

Tomorrowland is a bit of a mess, but hopefully it will inspire some kids to embrace imagination and innovation, because it's certainly not got much else going for it.

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