There’s a certain enchantment and spirit that exists in a Disneyland resort – and it’s one that has been captured remarkably well on screen, in the studio’s latest endeavour, Tomorrowland: A World Beyond, based upon a section of the theme parks that specifies in futuristic ideals. However, while another production that also took its inspiration from the resort, Pirates of the Caribbean, it would certainly come as a surprise if this was to make for as prosperous a franchise, as despite being an adventurous, epic blockbuster – it’s lacking that certain spark.
Tomorrowland is a place for the creatively inclined, the scientific geniuses, who have congregated in a futuristic landscape to express themselves, not only inventing various, progressive devices, but a whole new society – one that is led by David Nix (Hugh Laurie). To be granted access to this elite environment, you need to be handpicked by talent scout Athena (Raffey Cassidy), who discovers the gifted, courageous few – which once consisted of boy genius Frank Walker (George Clooney). However he’s now disillusioned, back on Earth, and wanting to distance himself from it all. Until he meets Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) the latest to have been gifted access to this surrealistic, fantastical universe. However it seems Tomorrowland is not all that it seems, as the pair proceed on a dangerous mission, to not only save tomorrow, but protect today.
Director Brad Bird and writer Damon Lindelof have done a remarkable job tapping in to their inner child, and how imaginations can run wild when of a certain age. This film has all of the secret compartments, blending real life with this fantasy land effectively – in how the Disneyland attraction It’s a Small World is actually a portal into Tomorrowland, and that the Eiffel Tower is in fact an antenna, harbouring a rocket beneath it that also takes you to the hidden destination – things that only children could dream up. However the film struggles to identify it’s exact demographic, as while evidently aimed at a young crowd, the convoluted narrative and lengthy running time would suggest otherwise. The story becomes too overbearing as we proceed towards the latter stages, as while the first hour revels in the unknown, where we’re led to use our imaginations and become immersed in this new world – like with many sci-fi’s (such as Interstellar, for instance), the film heads steadily downhill when the narrative takes precedence and we require answers – which are mostly unfulfilling.
Nonetheless, Tomorrowland: A World Beyond preaches a strong message, as yet another environmentally conscious production following on from where the likes of The Lorax and Wall-E left off. However, and while it’s essential that we hammer this message home to the next generation – of preserving and protecting the present to secure a better future – it’s a message that feels all too forced, contrived and wildly idealistic.