One advantage children have over adults in their innate sense of optimism. With the onslaught of dystopian doom in video games, movies and TV, one wonders if today’s youth can overcome such darkness. Enter Disney’s Tomorrowland, a genuinely hopeful look at what the future could hold.
The film begins with a flashback of inventor Frank Walker’s (George Clooney) youth. As a young boy (Thomas Robinson), Frank went to the 1964 World’s Fair in New York with his homemade jet pack. He tries to impress the scientists, but runs into a slight issue -- his invention doesn’t fly. So grouchy guy Nix (Hugh Laurie, House) rejects his ambition. Lucky for Frank, he gets a second-chance when a pretty young girl Athena (Raffey Cassidy) gives him a pin. The pin is the gateway to a utopian world.
We then get a flashback to brainy Casey Newton’s (Britt Robertson) past. She’s the daughter of a NASA engineer who is about to be laid off. She’s a bit of a rebel and tries to take matters in her own hands by delaying the shut down of the space launch platform. She stumbles upon the World’s Fair pin. When she touches it, she’s instantly transported to a vision of “Tomorrowland.” The pin was intended as a roll-out campaign to introduce Tomorrowland to the rest of the planet in 1984.
However, there are forces that don’t like the “It’s A Small World” version of the future. That’s when adult grumpy Frank and teenage buoyant Casey team up to find out the truth of what the future holds.
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Director Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles) paints a beautiful palette of a futuristic world where anything is possible. Bird was confident enough in his vision to avoid the 3D money grab.
While the visuals are crisp and awe-inspiring, the story line is a bit complex. Bird co-wrote the script with Damon Lindelof (Lost). There are some head-scratching hypotheticals in the film as well as gratuitous violence that was jarring for younger viewers.
In the end, the lovely bonds between Casey and Frank and Athena really pulled at the heartstrings, and the overall message of hope overcomes the film’s faults and makes you look forward to the future.
Maricar Estrella, 817-390-7720
Director: Brad Bird
Cast: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie
Rated: PG (sequences of sci-fi action and peril, thematic elements, mild language)
Running time: 130 min.