Tomorrowland review by Richard Chester


OCCASIONALLY, a blockbuster shows up that looks like it will provide the genuine entertainment factor so many of its kind fail to deliver.

However, Tomorrowland, in spite of reliability regarding its reliable director Brad Bird, lead actor George Clooney and premise is another hit and miss from the Hollywood universe.

It begins with a flashback to 1964 involving the younger version of Frank Walker, a science enthusiast whose desire for creating new scientific inventions result in being inadvertently transported to a futuristic world known as Tomorrowland.

Arriving at present-day, the focus moves to another science enthusiast Casey (Britt Robertson) who stumbles across a similar pin that young Frank was handed. Simple-sounding but when she touches it, she finds herself observing into the parallel futuristic universe, whilst remaining in her actual universe.

Seeing as it is only capable of activation when she presses it, her curiosity leads to a nostalgia store, resulting in a plasma gun battle where Casey barely escapes thanks to child android Athena (Raffey Cassidy), first seen in the flashback.

In pursuit of robots taking in the form of Secret Service agents, whose choice of weaponry is a gun which instantly vaporises its victims, she tracks down the older Frank Walker (George Clooney), a recluse who walked out on Tomorrowland decades earlier.

Despite initial friction, both decide to work together alongside Athena to discover more about the said universe and prevent an apparent threat to life on Earth.

Taking clear inspiration from The Day the Earth Stood Still with its Earth-in-danger-because-of-itself narrative, this is one that seems like an enjoyable work but is clearly not.

The early flashback sequence is the first flaw as it does not create enough engrossment, even with the use of Hugh Laurie as a cantankerous invention judge and young Frank’s clichéd escapades involving his self-designed jetpack.

The aforementioned plasma gun battle is welcoming, but it is just one of several mildly enjoyable such sequences where the action is engulfed by the film’s frequent foray into tiresome and fairly complex messaging.

Frank and Casey, save for the non-linear opening sequence, do not meet until just under the start of the second act. By not introducing the scenario regarding older Frank earlier, the film effectively gives way to an overlong development of the character of Casey where too much time is spent getting to the point along with an uneasy usage of repetitiveness.

The film also suffers, right from the start in fact, from an uninspiring lack of humour, falling into the realms of trying too hard and not succeeding in any way to bring out even as much as a smirk.

Bird’s previous works include a mixture of animation and live action, such as the unforgettable Ratatouille and the unexpectedly superb Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol.

This one, only his second foray into live action, comes across as one that could have added to his reputation but unfortunately, he gets the film wrong by focusing too much on a message that has been heard beforehand.

Instead of composing a more original use towards plot and a correct balance of action and storytelling, he serves up a modest but ultimately disappointing work that could have been done in such a better way.

Even when Bird devises a sequence where the Eiffel Tower is effectively sliced in two to make way for a rocket launch underneath it, it fails to result in consistent excitement value, a much-needed element for a film with a reported $190million budget.

Clooney’s watchable persona saves the film from being a total bore and though it appears more intelligent than something on the lines of Transformers, its ultimate result does not give the satisfaction one would have thought its creator would deliver.