Based on the popular Tomorrowland Disney theme park attraction, the House of Mouse’s futuristic family adventure is not just solid summer entertainment but one of the most forward-thinking films to come out of any of the major studios.
While (the ever-excellent) George Clooney may have been given top billing, he plays a definite second fiddle to the film’s female stars Britt Robertson and Raffey Cassidy. That two young women should single-handedly drive such a blockbuster is inspiring enough, but the fact that their characters are given the freedom to behave in an entirely heroic fashion makes this as ground-breaking as the recent Mad Max: Fury Road for the depiction of gender in mainstream cinema.
Robertson takes the role of Casey, a science-obsessed teen whose technical ambition is matched only by her sense of adventure. A seemingly chance encounter with a pin from the 1965 World’s Fair sees Casey discover the hidden realm of Tomorrowland, a space-age city shrouded in space and time. Teaming up with the mysterious Athena (Cassidy) and former child genius turned grumpy old man Frank (Clooney), Casey’s determination to unlock its secrets leads to a discovery that has a universal impact.
Visually, Tomorrowland is stunning; the city itself a gleaming version of the future as seen through the prism of 60s optimism, the unbridled imagination of youth and, of course, the unwavering moral fortitude of Disney. For this is a place where cynicism comes to die, and where positivity and ambition are the only currency that matters; the polar opposite to Earth. While much fun is poked at the apocalyptic Zeitgeist that is currently informing so much of our popular culture, the film does strike a genuine chord when it points out how accepting – and perhaps deserving – the impassive human race is of a horrifying fate that is entirely possible.
It’s a sobering message; but, of course, this is Disney, and the hero will always win the day. That Casey is that hero – ably supported by Athena – is thrilling, particularly given that they are able to utilise all the facets of their characters (their scientific intelligence, their ingenuity, their fists) to, literally, save the world. Casey and Athena are truly characters to inspire, and young stars Robertson and Cassidy play them with a charm and wit that is hugely entertaining, and should see the film appeal to audiences of all ages. Which is fantastic news as, with Tomorrowland, it feels like cinema may finally be entering the 21st Century.
UK Theatrical Release Date: May 22, 2015
An edited version of this review was originally published by The List