A few months ago I saw one trailer for “Tomorrowland” and managed to avoid everything about it since. That one trailer promised to transport us to the futuristic world of the title and the film does just that but not in the way I imagined. For a sci-fi movie the grounded atmosphere, in one sense, follows in the the legacy of Spielberg’s “Close Encounter of a Third Kind” and “ET – The Extra Terrestrial” and in another sense it pays many sweet homages to the U.S.’s view of the future as it was imagined up to and in the 1960s and sci-fi films since.
George Clooney’s Frank Walker, coming from a long line of Disney’s disillusioned inventors, has been kicked out of Tomorrowland (for spoiler reasons I will not go into) and is persuaded to return by two of the films real stars Britt Robertson as Casey and Raffey Cassidy’s Athena. Robertson is one of the coolest rebel girls-next-door characters you could meet and you root for her all the way while Cassidy plays Athena with a curious grown-up mix of charm and underlying agenda.
There are nods to “Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang”, “The Jetsons”, even “The Matrix” and more. In one scene there is an entire shop full of homages. It is plain to see that Brad Bird had dealt mostly with animated entertainment up to now as the action is directed very much with that kind of an eye, for instance, there is a lovely moment with Clooney’s guard dog that is straight out of a Tom and Jerry cartoon. More of the movie’s style come’s from his animation backgrounds, the chases, the set design’s, the humour (one character nods directly to his earlier movie “The Iron Giant”). Bird infuses the story with his always unsentimental warmth, packed it full of great gadgets, and lots of universally accessible humour.
While I would recommend it and the clear message it delivers to children (and adults) about holding onto your early dreams and being overwhelmingly positive, there is something lacking in the movie as a whole. Perhaps the evil threat (while all encompassing) wasn’t delivered with the impact it deserved, or the baddies, while entertaining, were a little to distant and even somewhat benign. Or Perhaps Bird was making a film about ‘chasing your dreams and not giving up’ for his own generation and somewhere along the way today’s children were a little obscured from the vision.
The verdict… it is lovely, entertaining and funny but not as consistently so as three of his previous film which I have adored, “The Iron Giant”, “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille”.
Tomorrowland is in cinemas now 7/10
To avoid disappointment I left over thirty years of maturity and cynicism at the door of the cinema (in a surprisingly small imaginary bag). This was in an effort to recapture the thrill instilled in me by such characters as the Child Catcher in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and Margaret Hamilton from “The Wizard of Oz”. When I asked for the ticket to “Oz” the inner child hoped that a magical door would open and I would be transported to the land itself.
Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs known in Kansas as The Magician Oz leaves a trail broken hearts, angry fathers and conned audiences behind him. Oz wants to skip being a good man and go straight to being famous and rich. When he finds himself the prophesised saviour of the Land of Oz with the promises of untold fortune he thinks he is made. But he first has to rid the land of the Wicked Witch. Will he con his way out of this?
As you would expect the special effects are spectacular. Disney has brought Oz to a new level while keeping the same atmosphere as the original.
The major problem here is that Oz is not a very nice person and unlike the wholesomely naive and adorable Dorothy from the original his goal is to skip being good and be great. But his complete lack of respect for women lets him down and sets up a huge moral mountain for him to climb. James Franco comes across as too sleazy and morally ambiguous to be able to reach the top and while he does somewhat redeem himself not enough in the eyes of this inner child.
Seeing as Disney have taken a loved story to prequelise they manage to steal from their own iconic movies, Mila Kunis makes an entrance like a classic Disney Princess even she peers at Franco with her hair covering one eye as we have seen many a time before. Rachel Weisz’ character uses an apple much like the well-known scene in Snow White but comes across as a bag of insecurities and Michelle Williams is more simpering than good.
The loyal side-kicks, Finley and China Girl, seem to be the only ones who are trying to recapture the magic of the original.
While the finale is very impressive it takes far too long to arrive or at least there is not enough in between to hold even the attention of my inner child.
The message I got from Disney is that girls are push-overs for a charmer but if you cross them the scorn will be on a biblical level.
But you don’t have to trust my inner child. A group of children sat close to me in the cinema, they chomped on their sweets, played on their chairs. Besides a few (cheaply gained) giggles, not once did I hear an oooh, ahh or any other reaction from them. They left the cinema in silence.
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