From magic pins to hovertrains, the opening of Disney’s “Tomorrowland” presents a future to be desired. However, despite its promising idea, the second half of the film becomes a difficult-to-follow cliché with lackluster acting that seems like a promotional piece for Disney.
The film, starring George Clooney as Frank Walker and Britt Robertson as Casey Newton, starts off with a nostalgic flashback to Walker’s youth at the 1964 World’s Fair. There, the young Walker meets the mysterious Athena, a young girl who lures him to Tomorrowland, a futuristic metropolis full of inventors and intellectuals with the freedom to create whatever they dream up.
Shortly afterward, we are brought back into the 21st century, as Newton’s plotline is introduced. Newton, the optimistic, genius daughter of a NASA engineer, finds a magical pin that momentarily transports her to Tomorrowland, and she is immediately mesmerized. She determinedly searches for another pin in the hopes of finding a way to travel back to Tomorrowland.
Directed by Academy Award winning Brad Bird—who also directed “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille”—Tomorrowland,” though primarily geared toward a younger audience, does offer a creative, original idea—something that modern children’s movies often lack.
However, at times, the not-so-subtle references throughout the movie to Disney’s theme parks make the film seem a bit like a marketing ploy. “Tomorrowland,” is, in fact, the name of the futuristic land in Disney’s theme parks.
Furthermore, during the opening scene, Walker and Athena are transported to Tomorrowland through the, “It’s a Small World” ride. While I’m as much of a fan of Disneyland as anyone, using a film to try and attract customers to the theme park strikes me as tacky.
For the majority of the film, viewers are left in the dark about what has happened to Tomorrowland, although the filmmakers hint that something bad has occurred. However, the actual explanation and resolution of the problem occurs in a very abrupt, anticlimactic way, and leaves viewers second guessing about what has actually happened.
The acting in the film also lacks substance. Though George Clooney did a decent job, it certainly was not his best film, and he was pitted alongside the dull Britt Robertson, who proved to be a typical teenage, Disney-channel type actress whose acting seemed superficial at times.
One of the film’s youngest stars, however, is Raffey Cassidy, who plays the charming Athena, and has had roles in “Snow White and the Huntsman” and Tim Burton’s “Dark Shadows.” Cassidy proved to be the most entertaining star of the three main characters, although her role as a seemingly innocent little girl with a British accent is rather cliché.
That being said, the film is visually pleasing, and the futuristic city and its inventions are enough to captivate even adult viewers. The flashback to the World’s Fair gives viewers a nostalgic, momentary glimpse of childhood, and likely tugs at the heartstrings of some of the older parents or grandparents who had attended the World’s Fair.
If you’re looking to take your younger sibling to a movie, the visual effects and Disney’s utopia-style vision in “Tomorrowland” make for a cute film, but the film ultimately fails to live up to the creative, science-fiction/fantasy film its premise could have lent itself to.