Sunday 25 February 2018

Tomorrowland: A World Beyond review - 'Come for gorgeous George, but stay for the sheer spectacle'

Tanya Sweeney

Disney's first big blockbuster of the year has officially arrived with a bang.


It was always a wonder to me why, after choosing a palette of perfectly picked films, Gorgeous George was moving into the realm of the family movie. And now I know why. Tomorrowland: A World Beyond is a film that's every bit as delightful and enthralling for kid and adult alike.

At the writing desk this time is Damon Lindelof (best known for Prometheus and the TV show Lost). Paired up with director Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille), this film showcases their respective strengths perfectly.

We meet Frank Walker (George Clooney), a bitter inventor who has squirreled himself away in a remote farm. "When I was a kid, the future was… different," he says with a misty eye, as we catapult back to the 1964 World's Fair, when young Frank was bursting with ideas and wide-eyed hope.

Attempting in vain to sell his jetpack to shady scientist David Nix (Hugh Laurie), young Frank befriends a young girl called Athena, who gifts him with a pin that helps transport him to Tomorrowland. For Frank in 1964 (and for us in 2015), this is a vision of the future that is beyond dazzling.

I have such a hankering for these dystopian films, mainly because the future always looks so overblown and fun, and in this respect, Brad Bird does not disappoint. In one incredible scene, there is a swimming pool in the future that I could happily watch on a loop for hours.

Back in present day Cape Canaveral, Casey (Britt Robinson) is a restless high schooler who just 'knows how things work'.

While picking up her affects after a misdemeanour arrest, she realises that a pin has been mixed in with her belongings. Touching it, she is immediately transported to the cornfields outside the city of Tomorrowland. And so begins her odyssey.

Meeting Athena, Casey is informed that, owing in part to her brilliant mind, she is now tasked with a rather sizeable mission. Telling it here would only spoil the fun.

Nearing the end, Tomorrowland: A World Beyond runs clean out of steam (no mean feat for a film running at full locomotive pelt) when Hugh Laurie's power-hungry Nix delivers an unending message-laden monologue.

In all, Tomorrowland is not so much a brilliant film as a film made up of some brilliant variables. Clooney and Laurie, if you can imagine such a thing, play second fiddle to the youngsters: Thomas Robinson, in the role of young Frank, is adorable, while Raffey Cassidy is ethereal and kick-ass when the situation calls for it.

As the film's centre of gravity, Britt Robinson does a fine job taking the audience on Casey's epic journey. Aside from that, it's all the fun of the fair, with scrapes, spills, and, as would befit Disney, up-to-the-minute special effects. Then again, if Disney couldn't pull that off, who could?

Adventure/action/family. Starring: George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, Tim McGraw, Kathryn Hahn, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Robinson. Director: Brad Bird. Cert: 12A

Read Paul Whitington's review: Tomorrowland: A World Beyond review - 'Disney adventure is big on ideas, short on charm'


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