Tomorrowland: A World Beyond
dir Brad Bird
scr Damon Lindelof, Brad Bird
prd Brad Bird, Jeffrey Chernov, Damon Lindelof
with George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie, Raffey Cassidy, Tim McGraw, Kathryn Hahn, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Robinson, Pierce Gagnon, Paul McGillion, Chris Bauer, Lochlyn Munro
release US/UK 22.May.15
15/US Disney 2h10
It's behind you! Robertson

clooney laurie mcgraw


R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Tomorrowland With its optimistic view, the film could be based on Walt Disney himself. Visitors to Disneyland in California before 1973 or Orlando's Magic Kingdom after 1975 will also see its roots in Carousel of Progress, complete with that catchy Sherman Brothers song ("There's a great big beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day!"). That said, the requirements of a summer blockbuster somewhat swamp the strong message.

Brainy Florida teenager Casey (Robertson) is living with her Nasa-engineer father (McGraw) works when she's given a magical pin that offers a glimpse into a futuristic utopia. Seeking answers, she heads to Houston, where she meets Athena (Cassidy), a perpetually young girl who takes her to New York to connect with the grumpy, middle-aged Frank (Clooney). He met Athena 50 years ago and knows how to get to that parallel Tomorrowland ruled by the pessimistic Nix (Laurie), who's waiting for the world's destruction. And Frank knows that Casey might have a chance to reverse this.

The plot plays out like a rush of childlike wish-fulfilment, with whizzy gadgets, cross-dimensional travel and sparky characters who are dizzyingly inventive. The central idea is that the world is only doomed if we stop dreaming about ways to fix it, although this is a bit rich coming from mega-corp Disney, which is clearly happy to exploit anything within reach for a profit, including nostalgia for its classic films and theme parks. At least this movie springs from Walt's desire to use creativity to make the world a better place.

In the central role, Robertson adds badly needed anarchy to what is otherwise a rather warm, unruffling formula. By the time Clooney arrives, we know his character through flashbacks of his younger self (Robinson), so his present-day tetchiness is entertaining. And the always enjoyable Laurie makes the most of a character who doesn't need to be quite this villainous, leading to action scenes far too violent for a movie aimed at 10-year-olds.

That said, Bird energetically papers over the script's weaknesses to take the audience on a thrill ride, offering children (and the child in us) a glimpse at the possibilities if creativity is encouraged. The effects work is beautifully rendered to occasionally wow us, and the super-smiley tone reminds us that nothing too horrible will happen. If only the script had cracked the surface, the film might have been able to also speak to grown-ups who definitely need to hear this message.

cert 12 themes, violence, language 15.May.15

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