Mark Reviews Movies

Tomorrowland

TOMORROWLAND

3 ス Stars (out of 4)

Director: Brad Bird

Cast: Britt Robertson, George Clooney, Raffey Cassidy, Hugh Laurie, Tim McGraw, Pierce Gagnon, Thomas Robinson, Kathryn Hahn, Keegan-Michael Key, Matthew MacCaull

MPAA Rating: PG (for sequences of sci-fi action violence and peril, thematic elements, and language)

Running Time: 2:10

Release Date: 5/22/15


Bookmark and Share     Become a fan on Facebook Become a fan on Facebook     Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Review by Mark Dujsik | May 20, 2015

Above perhaps all else, Tomorrowland gets it. There's a montage early in the film, during the lengthy sequence introducing our teenage heroine, that solidifies the philosophy of screenwriters Brad Bird (who also directed the film) and Damon Lindelof. It's simple but profound in the way such plain but earnest sentiments can be. The teenage girl sits through her classes, and each teacher provides some new threat to the planet and humanity: terrorism, climate change, the idea that the dystopian fiction of the past has become reality.

Elsewhere in the film, news reports talk about war and famine and severe weather. It's bleak, yes, but that's where we are at this point as a species and in our existence on this planet. The girl sits in the class with her hand raised. The teachers ignore her until one of them finally gives in to her persistence and calls on her to hear what she has to say: "What are we doing about it?"

It should come as no surprise that Tomorrowland doesn't have the answer to the sad state of the world for two reasons: 1.) It's smart enough not to try, and 2.) this is, after all, an adventure aimed, for the most part, at kids. Nobody wants to hear one opinion on how to fix the problems of the world anyway, but maybe it's more than enough of a start to try to encourage people容specially children葉o realize that they could do something. Whatever it is that we're doing now clearly isn't working, so why not just start with a blank slate and ask the question: What are we doing about it?

This is a film about and for the dreamers葉he optimists. It realizes, too, that the enemy of dreams and optimism is not pessimism. It's apathy. It's accepting the way things are. It's knowing that the world is a mess and believing that, well, that's just the way it's going to have to be. It's resigning oneself and the fate of the world to the perception of inevitability. This film fights the good fight.

It's not just blustering, hollow sentimentality, either. The film backs up its assertions and calls to action. It doesn't just tell us to dream and to think of things in new ways. It dreams. It imagines the ordinary as something potentially extraordinary, shows us the legitimately extraordinary, and does both of these things with seeming ease.

It's also a lot of fun, and that fun is part of Bird and Lindelof's argument. We get that side of it in the first introductory sequence, which details of the origins of the film's second hero. His name is Frank Walker (George Clooney), and he used to be a dreamer.

As a child, young Frank (Thomas Robinson) was a precocious inventor. His father never encouraged the boy's ingenuity and actually tried to dissuade him from it. Despite this, Frank went to the 1964 New York World's Fair to enter an invention competition. His invention was a jetpack. Nix (Hugh Laurie), the head judge, doesn't see much use in it because it won't better the world in any obvious way. Frank thinks the jetpack could be fun, and if someone sees it, that person might be inspired to create something of his or her own. Isn't that a way of bettering the world?

The young Frank comes across the eponymous location after a young girl named Athena (Raffey Cassidy in a really fine performance, providing twinkles of humanity behind probing eyes that are anything but human) leads him to it葉hrough a dimensional wormhole of sorts underneath a traveling version of the It's a Small World ride. He tours Tomorrowland, of course, with his jetpack in a breathless sequence of brief, sun-drenched glimpses of the futuristic city through blinding layers of clouds. At some point between his inspiring arrival and when we meet up with him again, the older Frank has become disillusioned and cynical (While Clooney seems oddly distanced from the material at the start, his character and performance become much stronger as the film progresses).

Also, Frank is convinced that some event is going to happen within two months. He even has a clock counting down the days, hours, and seconds. As Casey (a bright-eyed and energetic Britt Robertson), the film's primary protagonist, says, everyone knows a countdown clock is never a good thing. In the same way the screenplay is smart enough to know it can't have the answers, it's also clever enough to give us預nd point out用lenty of narrative shorthand: the clock, the "something" that Frank built, the constant reminders that whatever is happening in this plot is secondary to the experiences it provides.

Casey sees Tomorrowland through visions provided by a strange pin that Athena, who is ageless for reasons that become clear, left for her to discover. Casey wants to find this place, and that leads her to confrontations with malicious robots with plastered smiles (There's a twisted streak of humor involving these machines, since, after all, they can take plenty of punishment), a trip to Frank's isolated farmhouse (filled with hidden compartments, secret passages, and booby traps), and the top of the Eiffel Tower, where we learn that some of the greatest minds alive at the time of the edifice's construction secretly put their imaginations into practice. Jules Verne, for example, didn't just write about a hypothetical trip to the moon, and that revelation is one of great visual inventions in a film filled with them.

The film does become a bit dialogue-heavy on the backend in the way it tries to assemble the bread crumbs of mystery that have been scattered throughout the story, but in a way, it earns those words. Yes, a villain gives a lengthy monologue to explain his plan, but what's intriguing is that the plan is relatively passive. It's not about what he is doing but what humanity has done to itself. The monologue isn't just about establishing arbitrary stakes for a final fight. It's also a way of cementing the film's philosophy.

Whether or not one buys into what Tomorrowland has to say will be key to one's appreciation of the film. What should be said, though, is that the film is heartfelt and sincere in its message while remaining a genuinely riveting, visually astonishing, and shrewdly crafted adventure. It's nave, yes, but in a sensible, lovely way.

Copyright ゥ 2015 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

Back to Home


Buy Related Products

Buy the Soundtrack

Buy the Soundtrack (MP3 Download)

Buy the DVD

Buy the Blu-ray

In Association with Amazon.com