A visual sensation with an original sci-fi storyline “Tomorrowland” is sci-fi done Disney style, and that’s mostly a good thing.
With a nod toward nostalgia, the movie opens at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City. Frank Walker, a young inventor who later grows up to be played by George Clooney, shows his early penchant for engineering genius and an indomitable, positive spirit.
These traits are picked up on by a mysterious young English girl, Athena, who has some pretty cool tricks up her sleeve, and a special recruiting pin that helps young Walker gain access to Tomorrowland, a far out space age Utopia set in the distant future.
Hugh Laurie, as David Nix, is skeptical of Athena’s interest in young Walker as a recruit, and that’s the last we see of them for a while.
Flash forward to Cape Canaveral Florida, circa 2015, where Tim McGraw plays an out-of-work NASA engineer whose rebellious teenage daughter, Casey Newton (Brit Robertson), finds herself in trouble with the law and in possession of a similar recruiting pin.
Simply touching the pin transports her into Tomorrowland, just as it had the young Frank Walker. But all is not well in Utopia, and the grown-up Walker (George Clooney), along with Athena and Newton, all must battle to save mankind from itself.
A few highlights include several Disney theme park homages, a great escape from a hi-tech rural farm house, and a funny scene with Kegan Michael-Key and Kathryn Hahn as purveyors of space age collectibles.
There’s a lot, and I mean a LOT of pontificating and moralizing in the screenplay, which may not be such a bad thing. If the movie causes one child to consider mankind’s folly, and two possible futures, and inspires him or her to think outside of the negativity that permeates the world today, then pontificate to your heart’s content. Mr. Disney would approve.
What do those stars mean?
* Really, really, really bad. Don’t bother.
** Pretty bad, with one or more redeeming scenes.
*** Pretty good, but maybe not great, worth seeing for most
**** Really great, a winning combination of story, casting, and directing
***** The rarest gem, an all-around perfect motion picture