Thursday, 28 May 2015

Review: Tomorrowland - A World Beyond

World of Blackout Film Review

Tomorrowland: A World Beyond Poster

Tomorrowland: A World Beyond
Cert: 12A / 130 mins / Dir. Brad Bird / Trailer
WoB Rating: 5/7

And so, the House of Mouse jump into the fray with a live-action, original composition which isn't part of an existing franchise, something they've often had trouble with in the past. Inspired heavily by the Disney ethos of optimism, community and progress towards utopia, it's easy to dismiss the film as part fluff-piece and part adventure-by-numbers - especially if the trailers are all you're going off.

I was pleasantly surprised, however, as the film itself is a lot more confident and slick than those promos had suggested, opening with a George Clooney narrated, 1964 sequence which is part Joe Johnston's Rocketeer and part Howard Stark. Once the film works into the present day we're on more familiar ground, but it never loses that sense of adventure, thanks in no small part to central performances from Clooney as despondent inventor Frank Walker, Britt Robertson as his young charge Casey and Raffey Cassidy as Athena, an ageless robot audio-animatronic recruiter agent. Hugh Laurie gets to have fun as the film's quasi-antagonist, Governor Nix of the trans-dimensional Tomorrowland itself.

All credit to Disney for taking a very traditionally structured story and keeping it family-friendly without kiddy-fying too much. The potential is there for a much darker film (and in the right hands, arguably a much better one), but despite a few broad questions on the nature of fatalism, the closest we get to apocalyptic grit is a very Douglas Adams-esque subplot about an 'A-Ark' of creatives, scientists and engineers. The only real downside is that the film often seems to pleased with the mechanics of its own plot that it loses sight of the flow of it, leading to quite a bump for the audience when things are put back on track.

Fans of schlocky sci-fi, dimension-jumping and big adventure should enjoy Tomorrowland on a level enough to make it worth the watch. The film gets quite preachy in its third act, but its heart's in the right place, and I'll be interested to see what they do with a sequel.

And there'd better be a sequel, otherwise this has been a very expensive marketing exercise just to sell badges…

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?
As much as I enjoyed it, I'm not sure that it is.

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?
You probably won't get too many watches out of it until more installments come along, so a rental until it's cheap on the shelf.

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
Britt Robertson holds her own among the cast, and I haven't seen George Clooney having this much fun since From Dusk Till Dawn.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
It does, but in a very round/about sort of way.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Not that I heard.

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
As well as featuring a scene in a sci-fi memorabilia store packed (packed) with Star Wars merchandise old and new, Tomorrowland stars George Clooney, who appeared in The Men Who Stare At Goats alongside Ewan 'Kenobi' McGregor.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…
^^ That's a strong five, but a five nonetheless.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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