"You wanted to see Tomorrowland? Here it comes."
It’s hard to remember the last time I walked into a film as high profile as Tomorrowland but knowing so little about the plot, premise or characters. This is the first blockbuster for a while that is not a reboot, part of a franchise, or based on something else. Though it borrows elements of the Disneyland attraction it is only based on it as much as Pirates of the Caribbean was based on the ride. So does this represent a bold stand against the Hollywood trend of today and can it inspire others to make more original things, and more importantly, silence all of the people who keep annoyingly pointing out that noting is original anymore and moan at everything.
After discovering a mysterious pin that transports her to an alternate, futuristic, dimension, young Casey (Brit Robertson) seeks out grizzled Frank Walker (George Clooney), the man who may be able to provide her with the answers and explanation to what it all means.
To be fair, that summary is just the first twenty minutes. As I said, this is an original and unknown plot, so I want to keep it that way and make sure that you can experience this first-hand. Brad Bird has famously not yet made a bad film, The Iron Giant (though not commercially successful) was insightful and thoughtful, The Incredibles and Ratatouille were inspired and Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol was the best of that franchise and perhaps a modern action classic.
So, Tomorrowland. There’s no denying that Brad Bird is still a fantastic director, his vision and masterwork behind the camera is truly spectacular. The impressive mix of set-pieces and CGI make for one of the most spectacular cinematic worlds of recent memory. Tomorrowland’s environment is one that you want to explore and discover as the film progresses and therefore you are plugged into the action and science fiction elements that are dealt with and the way Bird builds suspense and excitement makes it feel like a ride of its own.
The philosophy behind Tomorrowland is also an interesting one, with a perspective that allows you to reflect upon the changing ideologies of modern times. Certainly Bird seems to have taken less of an inspiration from Disneyland and more its namesake. Walt Disney was a man that looked forward to the future, Bird was of a generation that still did. People like Bird and Disney would ask why then, have we started to fear the future.
Maybe because the modern day has given us something to fear for, is today worse than the past and therefore guarantees an even grimmer future. Perhaps, but those are the themes Bird raises time and time again. In fact, a little too often as the messages of peace and environmentalism may start off as subtle and meaningful, but by the end they reach levels of preachiness and certainly are not delicately placed, choosing instead to hit its audience over the head with these teachings to such a point that it almost feels as if other aspects of the film were pushed aside to make room for these.
That’s not the only thing that gets derailed by the end of Tomorrowland either. The entire film seems to take a nosedive off a cliff during those final twenty minutes. Well maybe that’s a bit harsh, but there’s no denying that most of the unique and inventive plot points that are established and developed for the most part of the film are suddenly resolved with what is sadly a rather conventional and uninspired climax. I won’t spoil it but let me just say that if you are expecting the film to wait until the last moment to pull its best trick out of its hat then you will probably be disappointed. Perhaps we should have seen this coming given that one of the main creative minds behind this project was David Lendelof, co-creator of Lost, another interesting premise with a rather lacklustre ending.
But if you focus on the poor ending alone then you are really missing the true charm of the film. The imagination is made believable by Brit Robertson’s careful coherence between confusion and confidence and George Clooney’s departure from the usual charm into a more embittered veteran figure. At the same time though he seems to have a lot of fun here, remarkable considering that the last blockbuster he did of this magnitude was Batman and Robin.
Inventive and visually stunning, Tomorrowland is definitely an original concept and can sum up what has been missing from recent filmmaking. Just be sure to remember that during those last few minutes.