Dave White
Tomorrowland Review

Dave's Rating:


You can fly. Eventually.

In your initial visit to Tomorrowland, you're not really there at all. That's what scientifically-named Casey Newton (The Longest Ride's Britt Robertson) discovers when she first goes there by touching a tiny, metal, "T"-emblazoned pin. She takes three steps and bumps into a wall, knocking her back into the glum present. Tomorrowland is a real place, yes, but she can't quite live there just yet.

Casey and a middle-aged, embittered inventor named Frank Martin (George Clooney, refusing to downsize the twinkle in his eyes enough to convince you that he is truly all that unhappy) are thrown together by a charming British robot-child from the future (Raffey Cassidy -- and just go with it) and forced to hop on a Phantom Tollbooth-like ride into poptimism.

See, it turns out that we abandoned Tomorrowland. It was to be a place of progress and miraculous advancements, flying cars and jetpacks. But humanity gave in to negative thinking and naysayers, and all the special people who would have created that gleaming place were squashed by... well, something. That's the official story, at least, from director Brad Bird and his co-screenwriter Damon Lindelof, one that nods in the direction of Objectivism without embracing it, but one that also fails to acknowledge that the real-life disappointing present is actually controlled by extremely powerful, government-influencing, corporate entities, such as oil companies that would gladly ruin the future in the name of profits.

But I digress. Tomorrowland wants to know how one young person (or at least one young person and one old guy and one kid robot) can make the world a better place in spite of everything. And the answer is to re-ignite hope, to re-shape minds, to assert control over our own destinies. Bird and Lindelof's vision is one where "dreamers" win simply by being dreamers and by outsmarting the forces of darkness that attempt to kill those dreams.

The film succeeds as a mechanical process for child audiences, who neither know nor care about the sadness of our collective stalled approach to progress. They will experience Tomorrowland as an exciting, set-piece-based, special effects adventure, and love it for that.

Adult audiences will rightfully notice more, like that it borrows from/references a string of earlier Disney product, both the light and the dark: the company's own theme parks in Anaheim and Orlando, and films as varied as Pollyanna, Peter Pan, The Black Hole, and Meet The Robinsons. But for all those ties to Disney tradition, and for all its self-administered compassion, it's a chilly object, one that just misses in its desire to be moving. As for its refusal to provide a blueprint for the rebooting of that glorious utopian future, that must be what's on tap for a sequel.


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