In the dim and distant, Tomorrowland was one of the four kingdoms on TV’s Disneyland. It was, above all, positive in its take on what lay in store for our planet, and that optimism is referred to when the disillusioned, reclusive Frank Walker (George Clooney) looks back to his boyhood as a young inventor attending the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. The movie’s preamble has Frank and a representative of the younger generation, Casey (Britt Robertson), in philosophical debate, while addressing the audience, about whether or not Earth’s fate is sealed. Frank is resigned to the worst-case scenario, while Casey prefers to believe in the story of the two wolves within us – despair and hope; the one that thrives is the one we feed.
The idea that ‘attitude’ itself might fix the mess we find ourselves in and avert the apocalypse is perhaps fanciful, but it is the American way, and who knows – they might be right? After this opening, however, Brad Bird’s narrative gets awfully confusing, as Frank and Casey, in the company of an android little girl, Athena (Raffey Cassidy), are pursued by men-in-black type robots from another dimension in the future. Their master is Nix (Hugh Laurie), and his brief is to prevent humans from despoiling his brave new world of many years hence. The entire middle section of the movie seems to be taken up by CGI and ‘action’, with Nix’s representatives in the present-day hellbent on preventing Frank and Casey from distributing the magic pins that will help us see Tomorrowland – or something like that. The clamour and clutter has the effect of making you forget that the film is trying to present an urgent message. It is left to Nix to force the issue in what is essentially a beautiful but sad soliloquy to us punters – the canaries are dying in the mines and we’re taking no notice. Worthy, but long-winded and (pardon my pettiness) marred by an outrageous piece of product placement for Coca-Cola.