Walt Disney's bright futuristic vision makes it to the big screen in Tomorrowland.
Walt Disney's legacy is full of many things, but this cultural icon is often known for his innovative approach to everything from filmmaking and animation to theme park design. As such, Walt Disney Pictures' latest release Tomorrowland seems like it should have been released some time ago. After all, the futurism of Tomorrowland, one of the most iconic of the themed lands, in the Magic Kingdom and its neighboring park EPCOT has inspired many children with its almost unreal vision of innovation and invention. It is with this vision in mind that one must watch Tomorrowland.
The adventure begins with Frank Walker (George Clooney) narrating his story, speaking of how bright the future had been in 1964. At the New York's World Fair, Frank comes with a jetpack he's built and enthusiastically presents it to David Nix (Hugh Laurie). When he explains that it doesn't quite work, Nix sends him off, unimpressed, but his talk of inspiration has captured the attention of a young girl named Athena (Raffey Cassidy). She hands Frank a pin and tells him to follow her onto the fair's "It's a Small World" ride while wearing it. He soon enters Tomorrowland.
The story shifts as a girl named Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) takes over the narration. Daughter to a NASA engineer (Tim McGraw), Casey is tech-savvy and optimistic, but stubborn, which is evident in her sabotage of the dismantling of the NASA launch pad. The machines are quickly repaired, and Casey returns to break in again but is caught and arrested. Upon her release, she gathers her things, and the same pin Frank had has appeared among her things. Captivated by what she sees, Casey sets out on a mission to figure out what exactly this pin and the world it shows are.
Let's get the bad out of the way: Tomorrowland is a mess of a story. The narrative jumps and shifts too much, as the two stories of Frank and Casey are half formed and then suddenly merged. The film builds to a great climax but disappoints in the final act as the solution to the big problem of the world is actually kind of lame. Director, screenwriter and producer Brad Bird (creator of The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille) seems to have changed his mind multiple times in how he wanted to tell the story, perhaps getting too caught up in the exceptional futuristic visuals of film, and then finally figured out what he wanted but only to not know how to wrap it all up.
Still, Tomorrowland succeeds where it matters: its heart. The important thing to keep in mind is that this is first a film for children, as such its message and visuals are key to its success. Some may feel that the movie doesn't inspire, but that's not the point. This movie is meant to tell the audience not to lose their optimism as Frank has. It's a reminder of how easy it is to let cynicism get the best of you if you don't fight it. Frankly, this movie simply reminds children to see the world with a sense of wonder and curiosity because of the "great big beautiful tomorrow" that awaits, and that message is enough to carry the film, even if it ultimately stumbles in its storytelling.
Images courtesy of Walt Disney Studios.