Spoiler-free TOMORROWLAND Review: Feed the Right Wolf

Full disclosure:  I hate spoilers in reviews, so there won’t be any in this one. TOMORROWLAND is science fiction story that, like the Tomorrowland areas of the Disney theme parks, is a look at what the past imagined the future would be and how we can get there.  Continue reading for our full spoiler-free TOMORROWLAND review, and click here for all the news, images, and trailers for the film.

Disney's TOMORROWLAND

TOMORROWLAND is a series of flashbacks within flashbacks. It opens on Frank Walker (George Clooney) who is filming a message, with flashbacks, but keeps getting interrupted by Casey Newton (Britt Robertson), also with flashbacks. Because we’re not watching a story on a single timeline, the many flashbacks are necessary to lay the foundation of the story; however, there seem to be missing elements, which may have ended up on the cutting room floor, that are referenced in later scenes. Walker and Newton are brought together by a series of events that began in Frank Walker’s first flashback – his first visit to Tomorrowland. His story comes out in bits and pieces as we follow Casey Newton through most of the movie.

TOMORROWLAND

(L-R) Young Frank Walker (Thomas Robinson) and Athena (Raffey Cassidy) © 2015 Walt Disney Pictures.

 

Frank Walker (my favorite character) seems to be paranoid and humorless. Casey Newton is relentlessly hopeful and optimistic (and, apparently, the only person in the world who thinks that way). Both are incredibly intelligent and technically minded. Together, the two of them can resolve whatever the problem is that’s the problem. I’m not even being mysterious here – it’s a mystery for most of the movie. There are several scenes of explosive violence and I mean explosive in the sense that things are going along fairly peacefully and then – boom – it’s fight time! TOMORROWLAND is a world within a world – a blending of the Tomorrowland of the Disneyland/Magic Kingdom parks and Future World of Epcot. The references to the story behind Tomorrowland are oblique and mostly mentioned in passing. While the Tomorrowland of the movie is supposed to be utopian, I found it elitist and cynical, even if it is sleek and futuristic.

TOMORROWLAND

TOMORROWLAND © 2015 Walt Disney Pictures.

 

TOMORROWLAND is full of political and ecological messages. It is, essentially, a series of motivational posters and stories strung together to show us the error of our ways and how to save the earth. We may not be good enough now, but there is hope; we can change. As with the action scenes, there is curious bundling, where the messages are spewed out one after the other in a scolding lecture. While I think the movie may be too disjointed for younger kids to keep up with, it is visually intriguing, with many “Hidden Mickeys” throughout. My favorite is the brief glimpse we see of an Epcot Future World feature. At least, I think it’s something I’ve seen in Future World. Let me know if you agree.

Disney's TOMORROWLAND

Disney’s TOMORROWLAND © Disney 2015

 

TOMORROWLAND is somewhat family-friendly, but for families with older children. There are violent, though not gory, scenes, and the concepts and themes will be over the heads of young children. As I mentioned, I feel like there are scenes missing from the film, so I’m looking forward to seeing the director’s cut, which I hope they’ll release in theaters, so I can see it on the big screen.

UPDATED:  I saw the movie again, last night, in IMAX.  The second viewing did remind me of how pretty it is to watch (and how much it reminds me of Men in Black), but they could have used the plot holes for portals.  Frankly, the subtitle of this review could have been “the more things change, the more they stay the same” because that was, essentially, what happened in the movie.

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About George Gensler

George Gensler is a copyrights specialist during the week and a runner on the weekends. She lives in New York City now, but has lived in five countries on three continents. She grew up traveling the world, but her official residence was in Southern California and every visit home included a trip to Disneyland. She has also visited every Disney Park around the world and sailed on board two Disney cruises. She threw in a visit to the Disney Family museum in San Francisco for good measure, and has had the Premier Disney Park Pass since its inception.