Movie Review: Tomorrowland
Fresh. Spectacular. Engaging.
Brad Bird’s latest action adventure is all these and more.
Yet I feel a tinge of disappointment.
Bird has established himself as a master storyteller through his animated feature films — The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille.
His first foray into live-action, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol was regarded as one of the best in the series. If not just a great action film all round.
And now there is Tomorrowland.
In this he has created an original story that celebrates imagination, wonder and creativity.
His characters — science prodigy teenager Casey (Britt Robertson), former boy genius now jaded old man Frank (George Clooney) and feisty, mysterious android Athena (Raffey Cassidy) — are well-written and appealing.
So why is this not a film-of-the-year contender?
Too many unanswered questions and an extremely preachy message (also thanks to co-writer Damon Lindelof) delivered with all the subtlety of a hammer to the head.
Basically, anybody who does not have a "go-for-it" mentality is the enemy. That we have lost the verve and optimism of the 50s and 60s and are happy to wallow in bitterness.
Not a terrible message by any means but the delivery is far too blunt. So blunt there are points you could start to feel like cheering for the bad guys.
The story revolves around two worlds, the present and the future.
Casey is gifted a magic pin that takes her to Tomorrowland, a utopia where the smartest get together to plan and design for the future.
However, when the battery in the pin dies, Casey’s only way back to the future is through Frank, who knows one too many secrets that threatens the present world.
Bird's future world is visually stunning, tinged with a retro feel and has all the hope of the 50s vision of a clean and perfect land.
Clooney has a charming rapport with his young co-stars, especially with the terrific Cassidy.
If you were hoping for Bird's awesome set pieces as seen in The Incredibles and M:I4, aside from one (utterly amazing) sequence that involves the Eiffel Tower, there are not many action scenes.
But that really is not the issue.
If only Bird had toned down the sermon, Tomorrowland would be a ride that you would want to go on again and again.