Tomorrowland (2015) ReviewBy. Andrew
A movie based on my favorite part of my favorite place on earth (Disney World)?! How in the world had I not seen this until now? Well, after seeing mediocre reviews and seemingly nothing related to the parks (in the trailer), I decided not to rush out and see this. But I’ve finally given it a shot and here are my thoughts:
Tomorrowland was directed by Brad Bird (Incredibles, Ratatouille) and stars Britt Robertson as Casey, George Clooney as Frank Walker, and Raffey Cassidy as Athena.
Tomorrowland is the story of Casey, a rebellious teenager who has always had dreams of going to space. When NASA decides to demolish the launch pad, her dreams, as well as her father’s job, are in jeopardy. After coming across a strange pin that seemingly transports her to another world, Tomorrowland, Casey is stunned and is determined to learn more. She eventually meets the young Athena, who leads her to the cynical hermit, Frank. What follows is a very disjointed story with some incredible ideas that aren’t entirely executed properly.
The film opens by punching you right in the nostalgia and letting huge Disney fans like me enter the film with a big smile on our faces. The first scene is a flashback to the World’s Fair, an event in 1964 where Walt Disney showed off attractions he designed such as Small World as well as welcoming other inventors and innovators to show off their work. One of these inventors, a young Frank Walker, brings his newly created jet pack to the fair. From the moment Frank gets off the bus, we hear the wonderfully familiar Carousel of Progress song: “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow,” which really added to the enthusiasm I had for this opening scene. I had a few issues with the scene, such as how cold the invention judge acts. Not seeing Walt was surprising enough, but being replaced with a guy who won’t even give a bright eyed kid the light of day is just sad to see. Wouldn’t it have been great to see Walt Disney played by Tom Hanks again? Most of my initial issues with this scene were actually addressed later on, so I won’t mention them to avoid spoilers. The scene ends with Frank finding his way to Tomorrowland using the pin given to him by Athena, a young girl who seemed to be interested in him when he showed off his invention. I love the concept of Tomorrowland being this entirely different world that not many know about, but making the entrance to it be a secret drop in Small World? That’s just a little ridiculous! Tomorrowland itself is kind of nice, using some really good CGI work that really brought the feel of the park to life, but it’s really dismal and dull so you can’t really take in the beauty we are teased with early on. One minor gripe I had with this part was when a robot grabbed Frank’s jetpack and fixed it for him. It’s great seeing Frank fly around with his invention, but it would have been much better if he had actually built it. The overall message I got from that was “if you can dream it, you can let a robot do it.” Personally, I wouldn’t have had it broken in the first place, just have Nix show zero interest in the child because he didn’t take him seriously.
This opening was, honestly, my favorite part of the movie. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Casey and thought she was overall the best character, but a period piece would have been so much more interesting, rather than a movie in modern day just for the sake of wedging in a “save the earth” message. The movie gave us a really dismal real world, and teased us with a utopian Tomorrowland, trying to say that Tomorrowland was a much better world, which is what draws Casey to want to go back there, even if it may have been no more than an illusion. None of the stuff in the real world was particularly interesting, but I think that was the point. That being said, the Tomorrowland we are finally introduced to isn’t really a payoff at all. Maybe that was also intentional?
If you couldn’t tell, this movie has really left me scratching my head. Tomorrowland was intended to be this other world, unconnected to Earth, where inventors could let their ideas flourish and imaginations shine, but this really isn’t the theme at all. Early on, we are given a montage of Casey learning about all the issues of the world in school, which becomes the overall message of the movie. Messages are great, but this movie just didn’t work with that message. Wall-E? Awesome. Avatar? Sure. Tomorrowland just didn’t feel right. I adored the message it seemed to be going for at first about following your dreams against all odds, but that message really only lasted for the first twenty or so minutes of the film. And I think that would be my biggest flaw with the movie, it just had the wrong theme throughout. It’s as if the plot got completely rewritten twenty minutes into filming. That isn’t to say the rest of the movie was bad, just that the driving force for the movie was weak and unfitting. Also, the modern day issues leaves this movie at risk of being irrelevant years down the line when these issues are either solved or new ones arise. It’s for reasons like this that movies such as Harry Potter have little to no technology or real world issues mentioned, so that the story is timeless.
One incredible scene I feel like I had to showcase was when Frank and Casey first meet and he tells her the reality of the situation. It was so well acted on George Clooney’s part and I interpreted the sun peeking out behind him as the sun being her dreams and Frank blocking those dreams with his cynical attitude, yet those childlike goals still manage to get past him a bit since he was much like her as a kid.
I do have a few nitpicks I wanted to mention, but I won’t harp on them for too long. Firstly, a drone driven by an IPhone cannot hack a NASA security terminal, I just can’t get my head around that. Also, Casey moves in the real world when walking in Tomorrowland, so what happens when she’s in a monorail in Tomorrowland? Is she just flying across the field in the real world?
Despite all my problems with the movie, I still really enjoyed the majority of it. I don’t quite understand everything I saw, but I think that was more the fault of messy writing than subtle storytelling. There were parts I was completely bored during (around the middle) and parts I was floored by (the beginning). The climax was kind of ridiculous, being way more bombastic than it needed to be. The final scene was good for ending the story but not what I wanted to see. I would still recommend this movie as it’s worth watching at least once for all that was good in it. For Disney World enthusiasts and fans, the references make this a must see, just to spot the little details as if they were hidden mickeys!
As a side note, with minor spoilers, I wanted to run down some of the references I noticed in the film besides the obvious ones.
Robots are called Audio Animatronics, which are the type of animatronics used in Disney for characters like the Wicked Witch and Jack Sparrow.
The jetpack resembles the Rocketeer.
The vintage toy store was full of memorabilia of everything from Star Wars to Iron Giant.
Space Mountain is visible in Tomorrowland