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Movie Review: Tomorrowland (Spoiler Free)

Updated on July 19, 2015

Spoiler Free

To be frank, I was given very little information about the plot before I saw this film. You might have caught bits and pieces before now, and while I may address a little more of the plot than some of the trailers, I will refrain from going into detail about them. After all, I feel the mystery of the original trailers to be one of the movie's strongest points right out of the gate.

Source

Initial Impression

I went into this film with little expectation. It's Disney and it's live-action with a heavy dose of science fiction. I didn't have a single clue what the plot was going to be covering except that there was a pin that transported the holder to a wheat field before a heavily futuristic city with people using jetpacks and hover vehicles (which kinda contradict each other in regards to transportation in an urban environment but I digress). It had a couple of people I recognized (including that creepy kid from Looper) so I put it in my list of things to watch if I've got nothing else to do.

Well, one evening there really wasn't much else to do so my wife and I went to see it. Overall, it's not bad. It's largely what I thought I would get, with a couple surprises here and there, but I didn't come away awed or disappointed really. It's a movie you could probably take young kids to and still find yourself entertained.

Plot

After a sequence where a little girl named Athena gives an incredibly young inventor (of a jetpack) a Tomorrowland pin where he follows and gains access to this mysterious location, the film shows Casey Newton sabotaging cranes that are built to dismantle a NASA rocket launch pad. Her dad works for NASA and it's revealed that she's always had a fascination with the stars and getting there. However, she is eventually caught and arrested when she discovers a Tomorrowland pin among her belongings which shows her a vision of a different world she can interact with once she touches it, but only for her.

Casey begins to research the pin and eventually finds herself tangled up with the same little girl Athena (who hasn't aged a day despite the different time periods), hopelessly polite killer robots, lies and manipulations, a grumpy old man named Frank who was outcast from Tomorrowland, and a signal reinforces a dismal future for all who hear it.

Personally as said before, the first half of the film is the strongest. The unifying plot isn't revealed and instead of that being the focus, the film takes its time with Casey (Britt Robertson), Frank (George Clooney), and Athena (Raffey Cassidy). Their interactions with each other are fantastic from their extremely different perspectives regarding different situations and how to approach them. When the plot device is finally revealed, the film gives 90% of its attention to that but it's not anything as gripping as the characters themselves.

Britt Robertson as Casey Newton
Britt Robertson as Casey Newton | Source

Acting

Britt Robertson plays a very believable version of an astronaut what-to-be in a world that has given up on space travel. She rebels in her own way and takes delight in scorning those that have seemingly stopped her dreams. However some of her best parts come from her reluctance to follow her 'destiny' or calling. She steals people's vehicles to drive away from a situation, refuses to follow along with Athena when she first shows up, and doesn't trust anything or anything for a certain amount of time. However when the tide changes, she becomes the most enthusiastic of the group to push forward, even if she really has no idea what it is she's trying to reach. It's not a revolutionary role or anything, but Robertson's acting causes you to accept it without disbelief.

However, it's Raffey Cassidy that steals the show any time she's on screen. Appearing like a doll out of the early Disney days in her first appearance, there's a vague charisma behind her manipulating the boy into finding Tomorrowland. Then, she explodes upon her proper introduction into Casey's timeline and her dry wit and sarcasm grab hold of the film for the rest of the second half. She plays up against the longtime veteran actor George Clooney with remarkable charm.

Clooney does his role as well as a grumpy, pessimistic old timer (something that's established in the first two minutes of the film) and he does it well. However, I was a little dismayed with Hugh Laurie (largely known for his titular role in House, M.D.) and his role. Laurie didn't perform badly, but character seemed incredibly one-dimensional. Perhaps his role as the Sherlock Holmes of doctors for eight seasons has caused my opinion of him to become jaded.

Raffey Cassidy as Athena
Raffey Cassidy as Athena | Source

The Action

In this regard, I was a bit surprised to be honest. Part of the charm for the first half of the film is the slapstick humor. Especially with Britt Robertson, characters are flung about, bump into things, and basically make huge collisions for comedic effect. It works. Maybe part of that is because I wasn't expecting it at all, and if that's the case I apologize for potentially spoiling this aspect of the film.

Otherwise, the action scenes are well choreographed, even if not the highlight of the film. Most of the better ones happen closer to the beginning and middle which helps keep up the interest of the film. Frank's 'fun house' is also worth a mention simply for all the gadgets and tools employed during the scenes that take place there.

Rated PG

It's Disney, folks! There's no excessive violence, swearing of any kind, or skin shown.

The most troubling aspect of this film comes from its regard to human life. There are some casualties in the film (none of which are gory in the slightest) but the deaths that do occur are treated without remorse or hesitation. Robot deaths don't really count. The film's final death is also delivered with a two word lamentation that's meant to be funny even though it's not.

Nevertheless, your kids will likely enjoy the film in its entirety, and you'll enjoy still enjoy the action scenes for what their worth.

Graphics

Not much to say here, but some of the city shots are pretty impressive, perhaps just a bit short of gorgeous and a little more than pretty. Most of the rest of the film are less than clever references to Disney (which is excusable considering a portion of the film literally takes place in Disney World and the ride where the audio animatronics sing "It's a Small World) and plenty of references, and uses, of Star Wars memorabilia (which is seen in geeky-space themed store). These are fine I guess since they factor into the film, but you're more than all too aware of them considering it's already a Disney film and their first foray into Star Wars cinema is coming fast.

A shot of the city
A shot of the city | Source

Closing Thoughts

It's good but not groundbreaking. It starts strong, ends on a lackluster note. The acting is great, graphics are good, plot is...adequate, I guess. Your kids will eat it like candy, so long as they enjoy live-action films.

But all in all, it's not bad. It's what you expect from Disney in a live-action production. Some of you will like it a lot more than me, and anyone who likes it less probably has a very different expectation. So, take your family to go see it, wake for it to come out on DVD or rent it, or if you're bored one day check it out. There just isn't a reason for you to drop everything and see it immediately.

TL;DR

  • It's Disney Live-Action, which should tell you most of what you need to do
  • First half is much stronger than the second
  • The 'party banter' is very entertaining/ acting is very good
  • Visual effects are top notch
  • A 'meh' plot once revealed
  • Solid film overall, but lacks the punch to viably compete with other summer blockbusters

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Further Reading

Check out my reviews on some of the other summer films out in 2015.

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