“This is a story about the future and the future can be scary”. As opening lines of films go, this one really works to set up the movie well. Not much had previously been revealed about Tomorrowland during production, nor in the trailer, only that it was about a new world and achieving the impossible.
Disney had set itself a huge challenge by taking on a live-action apocalyptic sci-fi film but still attempting to keep it family-friendly. However, this is pulled off with style through great work from George Clooney and director Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille) who manages to keep a film with a dark backdrop, full of optimism, innovation and humour.
The first half of the film is split into two strands outlining the background stories of Frank Walker (George Clooney) and Casey Newton (Britt Robertson), and how they meet the mysterious Athena (Raffey Cassidy). A young Frank, after his jet-pack invention is laughed at while attending a fair, follows a helpful Athena all the way through Disneyland onto a boat ride where he ends up in a futuristic world. The second strand follows Casey, an intelligent NASA fanatic who whilst being bailed out of jail is given a pin-badge that takes her to the same world. This new world is full of spaceships, a visually-pleasing cityscape and even a flying monorail. However she cannot stay as a timer on the badge returns Casey to present-day Earth. Determined to find out more, her journey brings her to Frank who has aged significantly and lives alone watching the world in his house full of surprises.
The second half of the film focuses on their journey, with Athena, to Tommorowland via the “back door” – a way which includes a very unorthodox use of the Eiffel Tower. Arriving back at Tommorowland. Casey is then given the opportunity to see into the future for her world and sees a horrible fate forecast to come in 58 days. Casey and the gang attempt to change the future but will they be successful? The mysterious Nix (Hugh Laurie) has a significant role within the world but what part will he play in its future?
One thing to note is Disney not only advertising its own theme park but also showing its newly-acquired franchise off, one which many will enjoy. A problem Tomorrowland particularly suffers with is its assumption that the viewer has knowledge of certain technologies that are mentioned and utilised but never quite explained thoroughly enough. The movie may well leave you with a lot of unanswered questions but when sitting back afterwards and taking in the full experience and positivity it provides, Tomorrowland more than makes up for itself, especially in the second half. It manages to thrill the inner-child of the viewer with exciting gadgets and stunning visual effects and still have enough drama to make it stand out. This truly is a film where the cliché “fun for all the family” fits perfectly.