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| 21 May 2015 | Reply

Directed by Brad Bird
Starring George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, Hugh Laurie
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Tomorrowland poster

Tomorrowland is a film sure to divide audiences, but those who leave their cynicism at the cinema door and engage a wide-eyed sense of wonder are certain to walk out feeling like they’ve seen a classic.

How Walt Disney would have loved today’s movie-making possibilities. Brad Bird, the man responsible for The Incredibles, Ratatouille and more, channels Walt Disney’s vision of entertainment full of uplifting positivity in this film that is, essentially, about dreamers, and having the audacity to dream. In that, Tomorrowland is as much a tribute to old Walt himself as it is anything else.

We are first introduced to young Frank Walker (Chris Robinson) at a futuristic version of the 1964 World Fair in New York. A boy genius, Walker has invented a jet pack that (almost) works, and wants a shot at a prestigious inventors competition.

Walker is stonewalled by Hugh Laurie’s dismissive judge/Tomorrowland Governor Nix (in a paper thin one-dimensional role), but befriends a mysterious young girl named Athena (Raffey Cassidy in a superbly nuanced performance that belies her tender age of 13) with whose help he accesses the secret alternate world of Tomorrowland.

Fast forward to today, and we meet Casey Newton (Britt Robertson, playing a wonderfully strong role for a Hollywood female), a teen with a precocious appetite for science and discovery, who through a series of misadventures finds a mysterious badge which, when touched, transports the holder to Tomorrowland.

Casey crosses paths with the mysterious Athena after assassins attempt to kill her, and together they track down Walker, now a grumpy recluse living in fear of an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it countdown which he somehow brought about. Clooney and Robertson have great chemistry whether working together or playfully bickering.

There’s not a lot else I can divulge without spilling spoilers, and to perfectly honest there are some cloud-sized plot holes that your sense of wonder might have to work overtime to ignore, but what follows is part sci-fi drama, part futuristic adventure romp, part eco-warrior journey and even a little Doctor Who-styled historical rewriting. It’ll have to be enough to simply say that with a little luck, the inquisitive hope inside Casey might just be enough to save the world.

Tomorrowland is shot with the same sense of wonder and hope as Walt Disney’s early films – full of ebbs and flows, jolts and twists, it is magically realised and a great film to bond with the whole family over, despite the message and spectacle taking precedence over plot at times.

Early in the film Laurie’s Nix asks young Walker what his jetpack is for. “Fun,” replies the boy. But how can it make the world a better place? “If I was walking and saw someone flying in a jetpack,” the young fella says, “I’d believe anything was possible. I’d be inspired.”

Tomorrowland does the same thing – which is also the same thing Walt Disney strove to do – it inspires, and proves inspiration is all around us, sometimes in the most unlikely places. You’ll see it too if you open your eyes to its wonder.

Category: Movie & Theatre Reviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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