George Clooney doing a Disney Movie – surely there must be some mistake? But no, gorgeous George really is starring in this tale of today and tomorrow, climate change and global catastrophe aimed at a mid-teen market.
Directed and co-written by Brad (The Incredibles) Bird, Tomorrowland is ostensibly a movie with a message – humanity is destroying the planet and must shape up and change its ways before Earth dies.
Unfortunately, the narrative is so confused it can’t quite work out what it wants to be and the message gets lost in the plot. What also doesn’t help is a plot device where the story starts by being narrated straight to camera by one character while another unseen character interjects. The movie would have been much better and clearer if it had just gone straight into the story.
It’s 1965 and young Frank (Thomas Robinson) arrives at New York’s World Fair with a jet pack he has built himself, intent on winning the science competition. But head judge Nix (Hugh Laurie) pooh-poohs his invention and sends him on his way. Yet Frank attracts the attention of Nix’s ‘daughter’ Athena (an amazing performance by young Brit Raffey Cassidy) who guides him to the future world of Tomorrowland (all retro sci-fi curvy, sleek and shiny) where brilliant scientists are on the cutting-edge of technological invention.
Cut to the present day where young teen Casey (Britt Robertson) is desperately trying to stop the launch pads at a now decommissioned NASA from being dismantled. After a brush with the law Casey discovers a pin badge from the ’65 World Fair that, when touched, takes her to Tomorrowland – but only for a matter of minutes.
In order to get more than a glimpse of this incredible place she has to team up with a now older, disgruntled, disillusioned Frank (Clooney) and the still amazingly young Athena and discover a new portal to the magical Tomorrowland.
But the problem is the story is structured in such a way you start out being intrigued and then have a huge section of movie where nothing really happens. This really stodgy slough in the middle of the film kills any sense of urgency or anticipation. This is a shame because the final few scenes between Clooney and Cassidy are beautifully acted, the young Raffey more than holding her own against the much older and more experienced Clooney. In fact, these scenes, which could quite easily have become a bit unsettling considering the pair’s age difference, are handled so sensitively and with so much genuine emotion they hold more resonance than the whole of the rest of the film.
So, while the film itself fails to impress, a star is born in the shape of Raffey Cassidy. Expect to see much, much more of this young lady in the future (but not in Tomorrowland).