Release: 5th October 2015
Format: BR / DVD / DGTL
Whenever Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) touches a lapel pin with the letter T on it, she finds herself transported to Tomorrowland, a city filled with huge robots and sleek buildings. The gifted young woman recruits the help of scientist Frank Walker (George Clooney), a previous visitor to Tomorrowland, who years ago made a startling discovery about the future. Together, the two adventurers travel to the metropolis to uncover its mysterious secrets.
The future is bleak. This sentiment is the bugbear that drives Tomorrowland’s narrative. It seems that the once wide-eyed ambition of yesteryear makes for a very nostalgic prism through which to view technological evolution. And director Brad Bird has his sensibilities set purely in the infinite possibilities of 1960’s optimistic futurism.
Tomorrowland preaches the kind of unashamed, heart-on-its-sleeve, flag waving altruism that would make even Walt Disney tingle with enthusiasm. From its plucky lead (Britt Robertson) to a rousing score indicative of the Disney golden age, this is a movie that wraps you in sentimentality, pats you hard on the back and says, “let’s go make a dream or two.” This is Jiminy Cricket’s ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’, in film form.
Some plot holes and a borderline third act head scratcher; weaken the overall effect of the film’s breezy run, but only a little. Truth be told, there is so much to see, hear, laugh at and enjoy during Tomorrowland that even the coldest of hearts will struggle to resist its charms.
It feels odd that George Clooney’s name is plastered over the film’s advertising, as he doesn’t really crop up properly until midway through. But when he does appear, he is sufficiently game to play a grumpy genius who shares some great chemistry with his adolescent counterparts. Raffey Cassidy carries airs of a young Dakota Fanning in her old soul turn as Hepburnesque Athena; whilst also delivering some of the film’s best stunt work. Not bad a young actress barely out of her OshKosh B’Gosh. But the lion’s share of weightlifting goes to Britt Robertson; who bounces around the film with such effortless energy and charm you’d think the rest of the film was written solely for her.
Tomorrowland might not have the timeless quality of a genuine Disney classic, but in terms of capturing the magic of what it means to be a true imagineer, this is the most inspiring thing you’ll find on film.
Film Grade: B+
The lead feature on the disc is Remembering the Future – Personal Journey Through Tomorrowland – A World Beyond with Brad Bird, which, aside from being a mouthful, boarders on becoming ironically downbeat about the current state of the world. It ramps up the preachy tone of the film, but still manages to keep the awe and wonder turned to 11. However, not much is offered about the making of the film in terms of genuine detail.
Meanwhile, Casting Tomorrowland – A World Beyond and A Great Big Beautiful Scoring-Session work perfectly as a one-two combo of expressing just how thankful and excited the cast and crew were to be a part of the film. George Clooney lampoons his own performance while Raffey Cassidy gets a chance to show off her wirework skills. A particular highlight comes when composer and Disney alumnus Richard Sherman gets to see Michael Giacchino perform one of his classics.
The Animated Short – The origins of plus-Ultra, feels like a pre-ride video from a Disney attraction, which really hammers home just how much the spirit of Walt Disney emanated through the making of this film, whilst Brad Bird production diaries and The World of Tomorrow Science-Hour just come across as misguided attempts at advertising the film in a unique way. That being said, Hugh Laurie does manage to channel his inner House M.D whilst berating some young ‘scien-teers’.
Finally, are the Deleted Scenes with Filmmaker Intro, which offer nothing much, except the revelation that an entire family were cut from the finished film!
Special Features Grade: C+
Tomorrowland is a genuinely lovely film. It makes no qualms of being self righteous or giddy with childish sensibilities. This will either make your stomach churn, or it will do its job; and make you want to do something positive in the world. The Blu-Ray features are slightly above average. It may well be great to watch the fun had on set, but you cannot help but feel that a film this special deserved a little more attention. After all, Walt Disney’s intention was always that audiences get to share in the magic.