2015 / Director. Brad Bird.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
TOMORROWLAND is a film full of secrets. It's a science fiction adventure with lots of revelations and describing it seems problematic. The film's nostalgic preface filled me with the same sense of wonder that I had when watching THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY as a kid and its second act cast my mind back to THE LAST STAR FIGHTER. There is something fundamentally classic about this new Disney film and despite its high-tech 3D special effects, it employs an old form of storytelling.
George Clooney plays Frank Walker, a genius who was whisked away to a futuristic city when he was a boy. 50 years later he lives off the grid in a deceptive and secluded farm house. He is visited by a teenage girl, Casey, who was been lead to him by a mutual friend and together they find themselves on the run from government agents and desperately seeking a return to the city of flying cars and gravity-defying structures. Of course along the way various truths are revealed and the fate of the world lies in their hands. To reveal more would be to spoil the adventure for you.
Director Brad Bird came to the project with an increasingly impressive body of work. Following titles like THE INCREDIBLES and MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL he clearly has a sensibility for quality family entertainment as well as a strong understanding of action and SFX-driven material. The adventure of TOMORROWLAND is wonderful and the performances are all excellent. Where it struggles, however, is in its convoluted storyline and idealistic eco messages. Several months ago people were making a huge fuss about JUPITER ASCENDING being incomprehensible and I am very curious to hear their thoughts on this one as it shares many qualities. The pseudo-science employed in TOMORROWLAND is understandably far-fetched, but it reaches levels of absurdity and grandeur that the illusion gets shattered. The wonder and charm of the film are lost in its final act as the story takes on an uninspired direction that may as well have been lifted from any other number of conventional sci-fi films.
Despite my disappointments with the direction of the narrative it is nevertheless a fun and action-packed family film. And contrary to many modern Disney movies there are quite a few surprisingly violent and graphic moments that kept me expecting the unexpected. Kids will lap this one up and adults with their sense of childhood wonder in tact will get heaps from it too. It's a very good film, that could have been great.