Disney future fantasy looks the part but fails to live up to expectations

MoviesBy Esther McCarthy
Disney future fantasy looks the part but fails to live up to expectations

TOMORROWLAND is a movie brimming with big ideas and fine performances. What a shame it gets bogged down by convoluted storytelling.

Director Brad Bird — the Pixar magic maker who brought us The Incredibles and Ratatouille — made a smooth transition from animation to live action with Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol a few years back. But this is a far more ambitious blend of family, fantasy and sci-fi. 

For the most part it’s solidly entertaining family fare, but the movie stumbles in its execution. Still, Clooney and relative newcomer Robertson make for good company. 

The film feels like a sort of Inception for teenagers, full as it is with ambitious ideas and too much exposition. 

Robertson carries the film as Casey, a bubbly and curious teenager who has always had an interest in outer space and potential other worlds. 

When she comes across a mysterious pin with the letter ‘T’ on it, she’s suddenly whisked off in her mind’s eye to another world whenever she touches it, in what is an impressive visual trick on the big screen. 

Meanwhile, Clooney — who is one of the narrators on the film — plays Frank, a jaded scientific genius who, we discover early in the film, has harboured dreams of being an inventor since childhood. 

A chance meeting with a young girl named Athena (Raffey Cassidy) gives Frank a glimpse at Tomorrowland — a glossy, futuristic world where the select few inhabitants live in comfort and luxury in man-made surroundings. 

Years later, the adult Frank comes under the radar of Casey, who is desperate to see more of Tomorrowland and thinks he may hold the key. 

I’ll give away no more of the plot, but the movie goes on to shift gears again, transforming into a tale that is part thriller, part road movie, part dystopian drama. 

It’s a film that’s daring in its ideas, and it’s easy to see why Hollywood powerhouses like Bird and Clooney were keen to get involved.

But the execution simply does not manage the level of ambition and the movie wobbles in the second half.

It’s entertaining at times, and the leads are endearing, but the storytelling is simply not strong enough to hold the film’s target family audience. 

The Verdict: Tomorrowland (12A) 3/5 stars
A unique and novel sci-fi adventure that becomes tied in knots in the final act. 

The Stars: George Clooney, Brittany Robertson, Hugh Laurie.
The Story: When she comes across a pin, Casey has visions of another world. Is it her destiny to discover a mysterious place known only as Tomorrowland?