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Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland





Director: Brad Bird
Starring: Britt Robertson, George Clooney, Raffey Cassidy, Hugh Laurie, Thomas Robinson
Running Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Theatrical Release Date: May 22, 2015
Blu-Ray Release Date: October 13, 2015 (Amazon.com)



Plot Summary

Dreamers Wanted…Disney invites you to an incredible world of epic imagination where anything is possible. Buckle your seat belt, as the director of The Incredibles takes your family on an action-packed thrill ride.

Join former boy genius Frank (George Clooney), optimistic, science-minded teen Casey (Britt Robertson), mysterious Athena (Raffey Cassidy) and the brilliant David Nix (Hugh Laurie) in a world of pure Disney imagination. Tomorrowland transports you on an inspiring and magical journey of wonder and adventure to a place where if you can dream it, you can do it. (from Walt Disney Pictures)


Film Review

Director Brad Bird first put himself on the map with his animated project Iron Giant in 1999, and later cemented his influence with the Pixar fan favorite The Incredibles in 2004. Finally, Bird proved he could handle live action filmmaking in 2011 with the stellar Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. So, as he partners once again with Disney, it seems like a sure thing for him to helm the futuristic adventure story of Tomorrowland.

As you can probably guess, especially with this being a Disney release, Tomorrowland is inspired by the area of Disneyland theme park of the same name. The story is something new, however, and while it offers everything you might hope for in a big Disney sci-fi adventure, the execution is surprisingly muddled.

We'd missed seeing the film in theaters, so this Blu-Ray release was our first encounter with it. The Blu-Ray offers a new 3-minute prologue cartoon that helps explain the backstory of "Tomorrowland." It's narrated by voice actor Maurice LaMarche (Frozen), who tells the story in almost the exact same voice he used for the lab mouse Brain from Animaniacs and Pinky & The Brain, but it feels like you're watching something that will help fill in gaps in the story that viewers apparently found in it. Knowing the movie got a mixed reception during its time in theaters, I couldn't help but feel like this additional backstory was meant to compensate and not complement.

As Tomorrowland's story unfolds, it's told in an often tongue-in-cheek way (as first introduced to the camera by a scruffy looking George Clooney), but it starts to feel a bit too disjointed. Just as the young Frank Walker can't seem to control his jet pack invention, the story zigzags and jumps around, and the fact you're still trying to figure out that last scene during another somewhat confusing scene makes it rather distracting at times. But as the story starts to form, and Bird continues to do it in engaging and visually exciting ways, it feels more forgivable as we near the story's endgame. However, as enjoyable and intriguing the journey can be, it's rather rife with problems... and I can see why it didn't get the warmest reception while in theaters.

For one, the PG-rated Disney adventure is surprisingly violent, and kind of disturbingly so. The main villains in the film are robots who want the main characters dead, and they look just like humans (Did anyone pick up on exactly where these robots came from or why they're trying to kill Casey and Frank? That was a little confusing as well). However, a couple action scenes end with these human-like robots being decapitated or dismembered, and I can see this being especially creepy and unsettling for younger viewers. These robots also have a gun that vaporizes people, and they shoot a trio of policemen in one scene, and other victims in another, who explode into a wispy cloud of dust. It's more shocking because you don't expect it from a movie like this, especially when it feels like it's aimed at children of all ages. Also--and this may be a slight spoiler--the story greatly deals with the end of the world, death, and us being the cause of our own destruction. A character even goes on a tirade about how we not only bring it on ourselves but we invite it through video games, not eating right, media and just the way we conduct our lives. It gets very preachy, even though it's delivered from more of a villainous character. Whether or not it actually is, it feels a lot like an agenda, and you can't help but feel suckered by a movie that promised to take you to a far-off land and not try to scold you for everything that is deemed wrong with yours.

So with that said, the content is surprisingly violent at times. As I mentioned some of the human-like robots get dismembered or, in one scene, sliced into small chunks when it passes through a thick criss-cross laser barrier. The main character, Casey, even repeatedly bashes one of them in the head with a baseball bat, and then continues doing so until Clooney's Frank has to make her stop. We then see the dummy-like robot lying on the ground with its head bashed in. There's also a central character that is revealed to be a robot when we see a tear in their skin and blue, glowing futuristic tech in the wound (to which they stick something like a screwdriver into it to try to fix something). There's also a scene near the end where an artifical lifeform dies and it's pretty dramatic. Finally, there's a little bit of language--mostly just "h*ll" and "d*mn"--with two incomplete "S.O.B's" and some uses of "Oh my G-d."

While Tomorrowland feels perhaps a little too big for its britches at times, there's still some really fun things within. And it's the kind of movie that I think will improve with repeat viewings. The pin that Casey gets that shows her Tomorrowland is really cool, and the humor that stems from her world existing in the same space as that world is pretty great. Also, there's a pretty long scene at a nerdy antique toy store called Blast From The Past that has so many easter eggs and fun little things to find within it that it's kind of a the gift that keeps on giving. From significant Star Wars toys and prop placements to the Iron Giant and Mr. Incredible (the latter two of which were characters in Bird's movies), it's just a lot of fun. When some action happens there, too, it's fun to see how these toys come into play. Britt Robertson (Dan In Real Life) is pretty good as Casey Newton and George Clooney does a nice job with a grumpy-older-man kind of schtick, so the cast does help make the journey a fun one to tag along on. It's certainly a unique tale and not your usual sci-fi fare.

While it definitely doesn't live up to all it may promise to be, Tomorrowland is still an enjoyable film, and one that should prove to benefit from repeat viewings. It's certainly not the best summer movie, and you're likely to find it more forgettable than this year's standouts like The Martian, Jurassic World or Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, but you can certainly do a lot worse than Disney's Tomorrowland... and I look forward to revisiting it again.

- John DiBiase (reviewed: 10/9/15)

 

 

Blu-Ray Special Features Review


Tomorrowland is available in a Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital HD pack, a single-disc DVD release, and through the usual digital services. The Blu-Ray disc has a nice assortment of extras while the feature film looks really crisp, colorful and vibrant in HD. The extras include:

Animated Short: The Origins Of Plus Ultra (3:26) - This is a short animated cartoon that explains the origin of Tomorrowland. It's available to watch with the movie or separately. When you watch it separately, it's given an intro disclaimer that it's found footage from an old "World's Fair" (which obviously isn't true).

Remembering The Future: A Personal Journey Through Tomorrowland with Brad Bird (7:09) is an exciting little featurette narrated by Brad Bird and it covers his journey into how and why he made the film. It turns out that they also happened to witness a launch from Cape Canaveral to Mars while they were filming there!

Casting Tomorrowland (7:27) - Here the filmmakers talk about who they cast for the film, how the players fit into the production, and what it was like to work with them. We also learn here that the kid actors loved doing their stunts!

A Great Big Beautiful Scoring Session (6:03) - We get a day-in-the-life look into composer Michael Giacchino's scoring of Tomorrowland. Michael narrates the featurette with his brother and we see footage from them as kids at Disneyland and behind-the-scenes shots from the movie scoring sessions. Richard Sherman - one of the Sherman brothers - even visits the scoring session to talk about the music he co-wrote for the attraction at Disney. This is a wonderful look into the music behind the film.

The World Of Tomorrow Science Hour - Hosted By Futurologist David Nix (5:08) - These are fake outtakes of Hugh Laurie as David Nix making a science show in 1965. It's kind of funny as it shows more of Nix's character as he keeps going off on the kids about their silly questions, and revealing how much he hates doing these shows. (And the Hayley Mills joke at the end is a nice touch!)

Brad Bird Production Diaries (4:34) - In just a few minutes, we see some on-set personal footage from Bird. The first one is about the first day of shooting, which takes us all back to the 60s as they film Disneyland dressed for the 60s. Next, Brad takes us to NASA where they film the scene of Casey sabotaging the platrform.

Blast From The Past Commercial (0:41) - This is a goofy, silly commercial for the toy store in the film.

Deleted Scenes with Filmmaker Introductions (23:28) - There's a Play All option as well as the option to watch them all individually. Brad Bird shows making-of footage for each one as he talks over it about why it was cut and then shows us the finished deleted scene after that. "Joking On The Eiffel Tower" is an extended version of what's in the film, but doesn't seem much different than what's included. "Young Casey vs The Volcano" is footage of little Casey showing off a science experiment in school. Interestingly enough, it shows more of Judy Greer as her mom and alludes to the fact that Casey's mom was sick and that's why she's not in the rest of the movie. "Doomsday Living Room" reveals that there was another family living with Casey and her family, but that plot element had been cut from the movie. As Brad talks, we see footage from a breakfast table scene with more kids too, but the "Doomsday" scene is actually just Casey's dad finding the uncle asleep on the couch and thinking that the sound of Casey falling downstairs was actually just the TV. "As Originally Written: Casey The Downer" reveals that Casey was originally supposed to be more disillusioned but they realized she came across too negatively, so they refilmed her scenes to be more positive. This segment shows the breakfast scene with the two families and Casey's more apathetic nature. There's another scene then where she talks to a guidance counselor and it's kind of sad. "What Happened To Tomorrowland?" was apparently cut for too much exposition. The scene shows Nix, Casey and Frank riding the monorail and talking about what has become of Tomorrowland and Earth. "What Is Tomorrowland?" was cut back from the original scene at the toy store to cut out too much of a "textbook" feel (as Bird calls it). It also explains how the Disneyland Tomorrowland is a "cover" for the real thing, and that Walt was part of the secret society of geniuses. Honestly, I think they should have left this scene in.

- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 10/14/15)

 

Parental Guide: Content Summary


. Sex/Nudity: None.
. Vulgarity/Language: 3 "d*mn," 7 "h*ll," 2 incomplete "Son of a--", 3 "Oh my G-d," 1 "Swear to G-d," 1 "G-d almighty," 1 "p*ss it off"
. Alcohol/Drugs: Casey calls her dad and leaves a message, reassuring him she's safe and not on drugs.
. Blood/Gore: Young Frank has a small abrasion on his chin after flying with his jet pack; A robot shoots their laser gun into the air, blowing a hole in their ceiling. A charred bird then drops onto the counter in front of them; Casey has some blood on her nose and a burn on her arm in the midst of a fight with robots; A human-looking robot is decapitated and we see the wires and such sticking out of the severed head; We see a tear in the skin on Athena's shoulder where she sticks something to fix herself. The hole reveals her robotic insides; We see a severed robotic head with burnt flesh all over it and its creepy eyes showing. It then shows some signs of life by talking in glitches; We see three police officers get vaporized by a laser gun; We see a big hole in the chest of a robot as they're dying.
. Violence: In the new opening animated prologue, we see some explosions and war footage; We see some riot footage on the screens at Frank's console; Young Frank tries out his jet pack invention and bounces off the ground repeatedly; Little Frank gets thrown around in a futuristic elevator when it moves fast; Young Frank falls off a platform and lands on another platform. His jet pack then falls next to him and breaks. A robot fixes it and he goes soaring around recklessly; Casey, while using the pin in the police station, bumps her head into a low-hanging part of the ceiling; Using the pin in her home, Casey bumps her head again and them tumbles down the stairs; We see a teenager in Tomorrowland using a jet pack and then crash-landing. His friend then playfully kick him while he's down; A robot shoots their laser gun into the air, blowing a hole in their ceiling. A charred bird then drops onto the counter in front of them; There's a big fight between Casey with Athena versus the robots in a store. There's a lot of destruction. It ends with a human-like robot being decapitated and another one having something sticking out of their chest while they twitch and look electrified; A store explodes; Athena punches out a car window; We see a tear in Athena's shoulder where she sticks something to fix herself; Athena gets hit by a truck. Casey then steals the truck and speeds away. Athena runs after the truck and jumps in the back. Casey panics and slams on the breaks, causing Athena to fly through the back window into the cab of the truck; We see a severed robotic head with burnt flesh all over it and its creepy eyes showing. It then shows some signs of life by talking in glitches; We see three police officers get vaporized by a laser gun; A dog chases Casey away from Frank's house; A sound wave or something throws Casey back from Frank's front door and lands on her head; We see a burning combine/tractor rolling toward Frank's house. He gets out and uses a freeze ray on it to put it out; The same thing that happened to Casey happens to Frank and he gets thrown backward from the door; Robots invade Frank's house. He stabs one with some kind of electrifying stick and another's head pops off during the fight. We see some more explosions and he uses a trap door to dispose of a couple more. A portal of some kind is turned on and Casey and Frank use it to vanish half of a robot. However, its hand grabs Casey's arm and Frank chops it off. For a short time after that, we see the dismembered robot hand stuck on Casey's arm; Lasers chop up another robot into pieces; A robot gets sucked to a wall with magnets and shoots out the wall next to it; Casey beats a robot with a bat repeatedly for an extended period of time before Frank stops her. Then then get into a bath tub which shoots them out of the house; A man in France gets vaporized by a robot's laser gun; A robot bangs on the glass window of a rocket and it begins to crack; A rocket pod bounces off several buildings; We see imagery of bombs, mushroom clouds and resultant devastation; Frank gets knocked out; In the finale, we see huge robots and smaller robots fighting, with kicking and punching, etc. A character tries to force other characters into a portal, but two people fall in and start to fight; There's a big explosion that throws Frank and another character. Part of a wall falls on one character, crushing their leg. They then shoot a main character, killing them. But we then see it was a vision and another character sacrifices themselves and takes the shot instead; A robot explodes, destroying a building and collapsing on top of a villain, killing him.

 

Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.

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