<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Brad Bird. Starring George Clooney, Brittany Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, Hugh Laurie, Thomas Robinson, Kathryn Hahn, Judy Greer
Tomorrowland is enchanting, engaging, entertaining and elating. It will remind you of those sci-fi gems of the 80s like ET and Back To The Future.
Okay, so it’s hard if not almost impossible to recreate those films simply because they were so real and laced with so much genius that today has been supplemented by CGI, 3D and superhero movies. So if a film comes close to capturing the charm and whimsy of those old films that put kids – or adults behaving like kids – at the centre of great adventures then you must applaud it wholeheartedly.
And because the director, Brad Bird, has animation experience (The Incredibles, The Iron Giant, Ratatouille), he brings to the film a certain joie de vivre and exuberance that you would find in a zippy, endearing and visually astounding animated film. There are jetpacks, multi-level swimming pools, toy stores filled with Star Wars memorabilia, laser guns, Matrix-styled goons, rocket ships, robots and cool gadgets. This is the stuff we, as kids in the 80s, would collect and create our own little fantasy worlds with, unlike the kids of today with their iPads and ‘dude, check out the tits on that girl’.
At first Tomorrowland reminds you of a theme park ride and sure enough, it starts off with a scene from their ‘It’s a Small World’ ride that takes little Frank Walker (Thomas Robinson) from New York’s 1964 World’s Fair into the future where he can invent a lot more than a faulty jet pack. But this isn’t a film to sell a ride or to be a promo for a brand new one. The futuristic city reminds you of The Emerald City from The Wizard of Oz but with a whole lot more gizmos and glitz.
And then you flash forward to present day and teenage Casey Newton (Brittany Robertson), a young idealist who wants to do something to change the world and goes about sabotaging NASA’s plans to tear down a rocket launch pad. But she is ‘recruited’ by the strange but cute as a button and bad ass as Bruce Willis Athena (Raffey Cassidy) who is from the future and gives Casey the ‘T’ pin, which transports her to the future when she touches it. Brilliant stuff.
Eventually Casey must meet up with the now old and pessimistic Frank Walker who was thrown out of Tomorrowland by Governor David Nix (Hugh Laurie) and lives in a house that is rigged like a futuristic version of the Home Alone house to fend off intruders. After absolutely awesome chase scenes with robot bad guys in toy stores and on the Eiffel Tower, the trio rocket away into the future to change… well the future.
Tomorrowland’s message of hope may be a tad simplistic but the point it makes about the bombardment of dystopian imagery and films that we are exposed to in the name of entertainment is relevant. End of days films may be thrilling but in the end they’ve made us all resign to a possible end of the world that we cannot change. And what we need now more than ever are young dreamers who want to stop this despair and say, “How can we change this bleak future?”
Raffey Cassidy as the android recruiter is lovely in her role and reminds you of young child actors like Macaulay Culkin and Haley Joel Osment.
There are plenty of awesome set pieces and action scenes like the toy store showdown and the platform that shows you what’s going to happen or what you’re going to say just a few minutes later.
It is an achievement that the filmmakers and studio decided not to go with 3D for Tomorrowland. The film is far more impactful and fantastic without the gimmick. You should watch Tomorrowland today.