TomorrowlandTitle: Tomorrowland (2015)
Director: Brad Bird
Runtime: 130 minutes

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge Disney nerd. I’ve been to both parks in the United States, and I own the entire Disney Animation catalog on DVD and/or Blu-ray. My excitement for Tomorrowland was high, to the point where I bought the prequel novel and placed the film at my number two spot for summer, right behind Mad Max: Fury Road. I didn’t read the prequel novel, and while I wanted to go in completely blind outside of the first teaser trailer, I sadly got stuck watching the full trailer.

If I told you exactly what Tomorrowland was about it would ruin the experience. Thankfully, the trailers only reveal points from the first hour of the film. Casey (Britt Robertson) is a smart and rambunctious teenager. Her father is a NASA engineer who is about to be out of a job when the Cape Canaveral launch pad is torn down. Casey finds a Tomorrowland pin in her possessions after being arrested, and when she touches the pin, she is transported to a wheat field outside of a large city.

Cut to 1964, and young Frank Walker (Thomas Robinson) is going to the World’s Fair in New York City to show off his jet pack, which doesn’t quite work yet. He meets a young, British girl named Athena (Raffey Cassidy) who gives him a Tomorrowland pin and tells him to follow her into “It’s a Small World”. When he does, the pin activates a slide where he finds an elevator that whisks him away to the future.

Tomorrowland starts off a little rocky with Frank and Casey talking to a camera together, trying to piece their stories together. Frank’s vision of the future is dark and bitter, while Casey’s is full of hope and passion. These are the two themes that the film rides on, and thankfully the casting is spot on, otherwise I doubt it would have had the same impact. Britt Robertson delivers a strong performance when she isn’t forced to scream, which happens a lot in the early parts of the film. She’s able to bring Casey to life and make her a very strong female character, something that seems to be a theme in this year’s summer action films. George Clooney is great as the grizzly old man. He has just enough bitterness without feeling like he’s overreaching, and his natural charisma shines when it needs to.

Visually, Tomorrowland is stunning. I was able to see the film in an IMAX theatre, which adds additional footage to the sides of the screen, and while it doesn’t add anything to the film as a whole, it’s nice getting to see even more of the sets as they really are put together well. Just a fair warning, there’s only about twenty-minutes spent in the futuristic Tomorrowland that we see in the trailers, but the film is filled with some great set pieces and action moments, just not as awe-inspiring as the time we spend in Tomorrowland.

Bob Bird isn’t one of my favorite directors, but he has a fairly solid background, and I don’t hate his Pixar films, which is a rare thing for me to say. His scope and message is strong and clear. To say more would ruin the film’s adventure, as knowing what the film is about takes away from the mystery behind it all.

Tomorrowland is a Disney aficionado’s wet dream, with little things spread throughout that makes the small kid in you want to scream at the screen. The mystery hooked me from the start, and the characters are likable and nicely developed to the point that I actually cared what happened in the film. It’s a bit slow in places, but ultimately I had a blast with Tomorrowland and will happily be adding it to my Disney collection when it releases on home video.

three_stars

Fandango

Chris Ranson
Film Critic at Cinefessions

Chris was raised on horror films, which gave him a deep love for the genre, especially its most quirky and offbeat titles (like A Nightmare on Elm Street 2). This love quickly turned into an obsession for cinema in 1997, when he decided he needed to see every major theatrical release. Video games (JRPGs), reading (anything but fantasy), and reality television (Survivor) are just some of his other passions. He’s been with Cinefessions since 2013, and has been writing reviews all over the internet for the past twelve years.