Imagine a world. A world where the brightest minds on Earth have been brought together, in order to inspire, innovate and invent creations beyond our wildest dreams. A place fuelled by optimism and where the only limit is your imagination. That’s the premise behind Tomorrowland.
The main story revolves around Casey Newton (Britt Robertson), an inquisitive, smart-aleck teenager, who is recruited by a mysterious 12-year-old girl, named Athena (Raffey Cassidy). Casey finds herself in the possession of a strange pin that shows Casey glimpses of Tomorrowland and causes her to crosses paths with Frank Walker (George Clooney), a former boy-genius who has been exiled from Tomorrowland, and together with Athena, find themselves in a race against time to prevent the end of the world.
The first thing that stands out about Tomorrowland is the visual aesthetic, which is to be expected from a film helmed by Brad Bird. With the streamlined building design, to the bright, shiny surfaces and the shots of the bustling metropolis filled with citizens dressed in futuristic gear and robots helping perform day-to-day tasks, it does seems like a wondrous place to live and it invites the audience to want to find out more about it. There is one particular scene in Casey’s visions where we see people diving in and out of a tri-level swimming pool. Just that one image was enough to make me want to move to Tomorrowland.
However, instead of spending more time in this futuristic land, we are brought back to the modern world, and for most of the movie we only get to see Tomorrowland in the afore-mentioned glimpses that Casey gets through her pin until the final act of the movie. Which is a shame because I would have definitely liked to have spent more time exploring the world Brad Bird created.
A lot of the focus of the film is on the three main protagonists, Athena, Casey and Frank.
Casey is supposed to be the spunky, rambunctious kid whose optimism and can-do attitude saves the day, but she just comes as an annoying, entitled teenager who thinks that she knows more than everyone else. There’s one moment when she sets someone else’s property on fire, breaks into their house and go through their personal things, and thinks nothing off it. It doesn’t really inspire you to want to root for her.
Frank is the typical curmudgeon that starts off as a grumpy old man but who eventually warms up to Casey and is reminded what it’s like to be an optimistic dreamer. This is a role that Clooney can play in his sleep and he brings a weight to the role that helps to ground the action taking place on-screen.
But Raffey Cassidy is a revelation in the role of Athena. It’s hard to imagine that the actress is only 12 years old, so good is her performance. Balancing the character with a mix of childlike exuberance and at the same time a level of maturity that you would expect from someone 20 years her senior, she gives you a likable character that the audience wants to see succeed. Add the fact that she carries out a couple of kick-ass fight scenes in the movie with aplomb, you have the making of a future star.
That said, the movie’s plot can drag a little and the main villain doesn’t really come off that bad, just more like he doesn’t care about humanity. The CG in the movie also does come off as a little green-screeny, in fact I could classify the film as relying a bit too much on CGI and not enough on practical effects.
I think if they had a tighter storyline, and maybe spent a bit more time in Tomorrowland the film would have fared better. As it is, I give Tomorrowland a 6.5 out of 10.