Review: ’Tomorrowland’ Shows Disney Looking to the Future

Rachel Smith  ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Britt Robertson in Tomorrowland. Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.
Britt Robertson in Tomorrowland. Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.
Three subjects to sum up Tomorrowland:  dreamers, global warming, and feminism. These ideas are not commonly associated with a PG rated Disney film but director and writer Brad Bird managed it. This visually compelling sci-fi wonderland packs a punch in terms of CGI and political activism for the audience, but the storyline feels a bit like a puzzle that has all pieces that don’t exactly fit.
The poetic, Disney like message from this film is all about “dreamers”. Dreamers are the ones that are going to change the world. Young Frank Walker (Thomas Robinson) was offered a place in the fantasy world of “Tomorrowland” because he had a vision for what the world was going to look like. He wanted to be a part of creating that future. Instead of doing it on Earth, Athena, played endearingly by Raffey Cassidy, invites him to dream and create in a futuristic alternate universe. It has hovercrafts, time traveling, and everything people in the 60’s thought the future would look like. Fast forward to 2015 on Earth and meet Cassie, perfectly casted with Britt Robertson.
George Clooney in Tomorrowland. Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.
George Clooney in Tomorrowland. Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.
Cassie is a rebellious nerd trying to save Cape Canaveral from shutting down because she dreams of space exploration and to save her father’s job. Cassie wears a NASA baseball cap and has an impenetrable spirit. Perfect for young Disney audiences. Robertson really shines in her role with a blend of comedic timing and bold sparks of bravery. As a young actress who worked next to George Clooney for a majority of the film and held her own, it is easy to see her as the next Jennifer Lawrence. George Clooney plays adult Frank Walker, the version who was exiled from Tomorrowland. He is introduced as a bitter, middle-aged man but eventually becomes a likable scientific hero. This heroic, brilliant demeanor is broken down by the love story in the film. It is between him and Athena, who is maybe thirteen years old. Athena is a robot that essentially has an aged woman within a child’s body. They have lovers quarrels along the road to bring Cassie to Tomorrowland. These moments induce cringing every time Clooney looks at this young girl the way he looks at Julia Roberts in Ocean’s 11. In the key romantic moments the director uses flash backs to young Frank and Athena so it reminds the audience that this was young love. It is a good attempt but the execution becomes creepy.
It is important to note the writer’s message about global warming. When Cassie, Frank and Athena finally get back to Tomorrowland, they are met by evil Nix, portrayed by Hugh Laurie. Before exiling the trio, Nix agrees to show Cassie what happened to Tomorrowland and why Athena chose her to “save the world”. Set ups are created to explain Nix’s evil intentions and why a need to save the earth is the focus of the story.  Though this message is an important one, it is glaringly obvious. For kids, they might have not had this kind of speech yet which will start a conversation about saving the Earth from itself. For adults, it is a global warming PSA wrapped in an over two hour package.
Hugh Laurie and George Clooney in Tomorrowland. Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios.
Hugh Laurie and George Clooney in Tomorrowland. Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.
If young kids aren’t affected by the “end of the world” piece of the film, instead they can focus on the feminist elements. Though she is a robot, it is awesome to see the writers making this little girl such a powerhouse. Not only is she holding the power of the future of the world in her hands by picking the right people, she is also physically strong. Athena has a few really great fight scenes where she is in control and defeats robo-police and giant transformer like robots. It’s nice to see a small girl kicking major butt.
Overall this is a very interesting film. It is entertaining with its action and fantasy world details but it is also trying to send a message. Disney is stepping up their game with movies that matter and though some of the plot points were rushed and the love story has cause for concern, it is an enjoyable ride.
Overall Grade: B
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