Is your future predestined?
Amid prequels, sequels and remakes, “Tomorrowland” offers something intrinsically exciting — an original story.
An uplifting story about a future that is not veiled under the gloom and doom of dystopian societies commonly portrayed in sci-fi YA adaptations (“The Hunger Games,” “Ender’s Game,” “Divergent,” “The Giver,” “The Maze Runner“).
At the New York World’s Fair in 1964, an exceptional young boy, Frank Walker (Thomas Robinson), submitted his invention for a science competition, a jetpack, or more like a prototype.
Even though the jetpack didn’t exactly fly, with an innocence of a child, Frank made a positive case to the head scientist (Hugh Laurie) about the importance of being inspired and thus making the world a better place.
He attracted the attention of an intelligent android, Athena (Raffey Cassidy), who snuck him into a magical, parallel world… Tomorrowland.
Bright-eyed with wonder, Frank found a hopeful place where the impossible became possible.
At the present time, Casey Newton (Britt Robertson), a spirited, optimistic tomboy with a bright scientific mind, gets arrested when she causes troubles at a NASA site.
She has the best intention to help her soon-to-be-unemployed NASA engineer dad. When she collects her belongings at the police station, she finds a decorative pin emblazoned with a “T” symbol and is confounded when she is transported to a world beyond imagination. The same Tomorrowland young Frank landed on decades ago.
A futuristic metropolis gleaming with glass spheres, spiraling roadways, hover trains and multileveled pools, occupied by the best and brightest and brimming with endless possibilities.
Possessing the pin leads to tribulations back in the real world.
Eventually, the ageless Athena tracks down Casey and brings her to meet Frank (George Clooney, “Up in the Air,” “The Descendants,” “The Ides of March“), now a middle-aged man.
The former young inventor is a bitter loner.
Although it’s obvious that inventions are in his veins, as proven with his high-tech home, equipped with cool gizmos and secret entryways.
Something happened to Frank at Tomorrowland that he does not want to have anything to do with Casey or Athena.
Cranky Frank doesn’t have a choice but to work together with Casey and Athena, however, once they’re hunted down by mysterious figures in suits that will stop at nothing to eliminate them. Frank also has a change of heart once he notices something special about Casey.
The trio’s interactions, filled with wit and heart, are among the highlights of the movie.
Robertson plays Casey with gusto and doesn’t take a backseat to Clooney, a supporting character here. Cassidy steals the scenes, imparting Athena with a precocious personality that is poignantly human and at the same time performing dead-on mechanical movements. While there’s a smidgen of uneasy undertone in Frank and Athena’s relationship, it doesn’t distract from the experience.
The set pieces and action scenes are visual standouts. The pristine design of Tomorrowland, bizarre robot pursuit and attack at the toy shop and home invasion, and awe-inspiring antique rocket launch in the heart of Paris.
Watching “Tomorrowland” is like immersing yourself in a children’s mystery adventure book. While the last stage of the journey is a bit wonky and preachy, it is fun to get there and the destination is worth traveling to.
Directed by Brad Bird (“The Incredibles, “Ratatouille,” “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”), “Tomorrowland” appeals to the dreamers, explorers and discoverers in us. Exuberant adventures and boundless buoyancy makes it a dazzling and delightful treat.
Nathalia Aryani is a film columnist and has a movie blog, The MovieMaven: sdmoviemaven.blogspot.com. Twitter: @the_moviemaven.
MPAA rating: PG for sequences of sci-fi action violence and peril, thematic elements, and language.
Running time: 2 hours and 10 minutes
Playing: In general release