Thanks to the marketing, I walked into Brad Bird’s new imagination feast, Tomorrowland, knowing almost nothing about the story. All I knew is what I had glimpsed from a handful of commercials, one expertly produced trailer, and a few mentions online. This was the rare exception of walking into a film and knowing virtually nothing about it. So, how do you write a review about a film like this, and be just as respectful to your audience? How do you tell people about a film, but not REALLY tell people about a film? Easy, I’m not going to. That’s right, I won’t be explaining the movie in detail, ad nauseum.
What little I will tell you is this: Tomorrowland follows Casey (Britt Robertson – a wide-eyed young actress, destined for bigger and brighter roles), a teen prodigy with a NASA engineer dad (Tim McGraw) and an abundance of curiosity. After a random encounter with a mysterious pin that seems to transport her to a magical world, Casey sets off to find a former boy-genius inventor Frank (George Clooney – letting loose in a way he hasn’t done in some time), who could possibly help her solve this elusive enigma.
That’s it. That’s all you’re getting. Why? Because the majority of enjoyment I took out of Tomorrowland was the discovery. The wonder. The hope. The film is such an extreme melting-pot of ideas and ideals, that to know much more than this would severely take you out of the film. I also am keeping it light because so many other critics and bloggers have elected to take this film apart, not because of what Brad Bird actually did with his story, but due to what they WANTED to happen with this story. A huge peeve of mine is reading other writers who walk into a film and refuse to leave their own demands at the door, instead discussing the film they WISH they had seen. My solution to this paradox is simple: If you want a different movie, write one. Otherwise, eat your popcorn and watch THIS one.
What do you need to know? Know that writers Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof inject the film with a myriad of ideas, creativity, and especially, optimism. The world of “Tomorrowland” is much more than just another Disney ride, it has a purpose and solution to many of the issues of today. Does the story get convoluted now and again? Surely, as most stories with big ideas tend to. Yet it matters not because, as the story unfolds and we see where it is all headed, we can still sit back with a knowing wink at it all and rest comfortably that we have finally, for all of summer’s incessant sequels and remakes, witnessed something original.
What the film also has is heart. There is an underlying love story to Tomorrowland that should absolutely not work. Yet, in the sure hands of director Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol), it does. Not only does this angle warm the cockles of your dead muscles, the film also awakens that child in all of us desperate to be set free. So many moments in the film caused me to light up with dreams of what I would do, what I COULD do, if I was allowed to live out my dreams in the same manner as Frank and Casey. For all of the film’s whimsy and zippy effects, ultimately it was made expressly for one section of the audience: the dreamers.
Should you see Tomorrowland? Absolutely. Even though the film is a hair long in a few spots, and there is a bit too much preaching in that final reel, Brad Bird’s latest visionary opus spurred memories of an early Spielberg. That era where Steven presented every world like a kid with full reign of the candy store. Bird showcases that same bouncy optimism here and, for this reviewer, I was completely on board for the ride.
3.5 stars out of 5