Like many people, I wondered just what to expect out of Disney’s new Disneyland-based movie, Tomorrowland. We all remember that section of Disneyland that used to be futuristic, as a child, but in the age of smartphones, smart TVs and the internet, Tomorrowland seemed a bit of a page from the past, in as much as Back to the Future II is that way when you look at the year 2015.
Brad Bird was entrusted by the House of the Mouse to bring their new vision of Tomorrowland to the big screen with the help of Damon Lindelof in regards to the screenplay and George Clooney. The film manages to touch base on the adults that used to have that positive view of the future. Things to be “amazed” but in this new version of reality, we want to find out how things happen as opposed to be amazed.
The story begins with a young Frank Walker, who manages to make his way to the 1964 World’s Fair to win the prize for best invention. He comes across a very House-like Nix (Hugh Laurie) and dashes Walker’s dream in his not-completely-working jetpack. However, Athena (Raffey Cassidy) finds something in his and gives him a special pin that takes him to another world.
Jump ahead to the present day, Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) is a dreamer. She has a dream to see the future and believe that it can be special and illuminating. She has a dream to go into space, which is the reason she is trying to foil the government’s plan to dismantle the remaining launch platforms that NASA has left at Cape Canaveral. That is until she is caught and arrested on her latest attempt.
Eddie Newton (Tim McGraw) is a recently laid-off NASA engineer and pulled all the strings he could to keep her from going to prison. He is a father that is meaning-well but knows that some bleak future lies ahead. During this emotional upheaval, a strange pin lands in her possession. She begins to see glimpses into the future that Walker saw in his past.
To find what this all means, Athena discovers that she is being chased by men that want to do her harm. Not to mention a very geeky shootout in a comic store with Hugo (Keegan-Michael Key) and Ursula (Kathryn Hahn) that has as many Disney properties in plain sight as it does with other old science-fiction memorabilia that you could possible imagine.
The adventure leads her to an aged and disgruntled Frank Walker (George Clooney), who is determined to keep her from looking for Tomorrowland that he uses many of his toys to scare her, however, her curiosity overpowers the need to be scared. Once the men track her down to his secluded house in the country, he is forced to save both their lives and take her to Tomorrowland and show her the truth and heal from his past.
The overall theme of the film was the concept of how our impression of the future has changed in the last forty years. It used to be an idealist new age full of mechanic wonder and awe. In the intervening years, we have a bleak look of the future and loss our creativity to look forward and take risks. The major theme of the film is the comfort in doing nothing is more appealing than making a new future. Very Gene Roddenberry-eques if you look at it in that light.
The visuals are stunning and definitely awe-inspiring, which makes the old futuristic look of the movie look new but retro at the same time. The concept of the film is rather large but nothing we have not seen before. There is a message in the movie but it is not one of preaching as it is inspiring. Using the line, “why can’t you simply be amazed” is the overall definition of this film.
Brad Bird, who has directed such films as The Incredible, Iron Giant and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol manages to meld all the previous films into one major Disney movie. As the movie does lack the major set action pieces that we normally see in big summer movies, its glossy message of hope and restoring child-like curiosity manages to overcome the deficits that this movie suffers.
The script suffers from certain sci-fi troupes like tachyons, which any Star Trek fan will remember as the all-mysterious particle that explains everything, and some of the plot holes about the future and where Tomorrowland actually exists. Needless to say, it seems more designed on just accept it and enjoy the mystery of not trying to know everything.
Overall, the message of Tomorrowland presses the viewer to simply let logic go and allow yourself to let your imagination to sour. It is that imagination that allowed us to sour to the moon, create the futuristic devices that we use every day and giving people the gift of vision. Is it truly that hard of a concept to simply believe again? That is the question Tomorrowland poses and you are left to answer it yourself.