Would That “Tomorrowland” Could Be Real
By Skip Sheffield
Would that saving the world were as simple as it is portrayed in Disney’s sci-fi fantasy “Tomorrowland.”
Tomorrowland was Walt Disney’s featured display in the 1964-1965 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, Queens. I know because I was there as a 16-year-old with my family. The gist of Tomorrowland was that through science, technology and intensive research, anything is possible. Any problem is conquerable.
The world is a bit more complicated in 2015 than it was 50 years ago. World population has more than doubled. Wars have decimated the Mideast and Far East. Weapons have become deadlier. Seas and carbon dioxide levels have risen and average world temperature rises as ice caps melt. Pollution has spread to parts of the ocean previously pristine. You get the point.
George Clooney stars as George Walker, once the whiz kid son of a Cape Canaveral rocket scientist circa 1964 (Thomas Robinson); now a grumpy, disillusioned, paranoid hermit holed up in a creepy, crumbling high security safe house near Orlando.
Clooney is top-billed, but the real stars are two girls: Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) and Athena (Raffey Cassidy).
Robertson is a 25-year-old child star veteran who looks and plays much younger (she plays a teenager here). Raffey Cassidy is a 13-year-old actress from Manchester, U.K.
The story, by directors Brad Bird (“Ratatouille”, “Up”) and Damon Lindelof (“Prometheus”), begins with a voiceover by George Walker saying how different it was when he was a kid and visited Tomorrowland at the World’s Fair.Now in 2015, the world is “scary.”
George had created a “jet pack” from an Electrolux vacuum cleaner as a child. The jet pack did not work well, but it caught the attention of mysterious, ageless Athena, who showed him a glimpse of the technological dream world tomorrow could be.
Casey is the brainiac daughter of a Cape Canaveral space station worker (played by Country star Tim McGraw) who stands to lose his job when the launch pad is demolished.
Casey is so clever she infiltrates the launch pad and temporarily thwarts its destruction, only to be busted and hauled to jail. There she receives a mysterious token with a “T” on it. When she touches it, she is transported to Tomorrowland.
But not so fast. The token is only good for a limited time, and there is trouble in Tomorrowland. With the help of ingenious Athena Casey must enlist the help of unwilling George and somehow rekindle his optimism so together they can renew the dream of Tomorrowland.
There is a lot more to it than that; perhaps too much. The special effects are dazzling, but the exposition drags the tale out to a two-hour-plus length. At the end you are left with the optimist versus pessimist argument. The whole of “The Magic Kingdom” is based on the former. The world as it appears to be is the latter. It is an attractive notion that if we just remain positive, somehow everything will work out. Alas there is a nagging suspicion maybe not. Still, this is undeniably uplifting, even thrilling entertainment.