Starring: George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, Tim McGraw, Kathryn Hahn, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Robinson
Directed by: Brad Bird
Cert: 12A Running time: 130 mins
Release Date: May 22nd 2015
Amidst the cinematic sky of remakes, prequels, sequels, and franchises Tomorrowland comes zooming through the clouds, jetpack at the ready with an ambitious, original story to tell. Written by Damon Lindelof (Lost) and director Brad Bird (The Incredibles) the film blasts off at the start but mid-way begins to crave nitro to give it the boost it needs to get to the finish line.
Early in the film when a young inventor Frank Walker (later played by George Clooney) brings his jetpack to the World’s Fair in 1964, he’s asked how it can enhance society. He replies that it’s just fun which is met with a raised eyebrow and a ‘what use is that’ response. But in trying to invent something useful here, Lindelof and Bird have forgotten the fun. They’ve built a story about caring for the world today before it disappears tomorrow and while a very worthy ideal, they have failed to inject the necessary fun to take the audience along on their quest and keep them interested.
Casting goes a long way to make up for this, with solid performances from George Clooney as the aforementioned inventor and Britt Robertson (Under The Dome) as Casey, the teenage tomboy chosen to save the world. When she gets arrested for trying to sabotage the demolition of the Cape Canaveral launch platform she is given a secret Tomorrowland pin that transports her there when she touches it. The effects in these scenes are stunning and magical. The city of Tomorrowland stands like the Emerald City of Oz with cornfields stretched out before it and Casey is our Dorothy on the cusp of a great adventure. But perhaps lacking in that analogy is the colour and vibrancy of Oz. Tomorrowland is nothing but chrome, steel and glass. It’s futuristic technology to the nth degree with hover trains, suspended swimming pools and cool clean lines. It has been developed by the best human minds but perhaps not the most fun ones.
The baddies in the film, pursing our heroine are very plainly drawn. Black clad human-like robots with cheesy grins and cheesier lines. Clooney, here channelling Jimmy Stewart to good effect, brings an old school charm to the film and it has the feel of a Saturday matinee about it. He and Robertson have good chemistry and he brings heart when it’s needed to the film, if a little too late. Hugh Laurie as the creator of Tomorrowland is well cast and a speech from him manages to package the message of the film very succinctly for the audience, without clobbering them over the head.
It will be interesting to see what audience it attracts. As someone with children, it’s not for the little ones but you would also need an older kid with a good attention span. Now if only we can invent one of those.