Film Review: Tomorrowland

by Sam Robinson

Rated PG. Starring George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie. Directed by Brad Bird.

‘The world is ending. It is certain, it is unavoidable, and it is coming.’

Such a bleak quote as this comes as a bit of a surprise in the bright glow of new Disney blockbuster, Tomorrowland. While the film’s title evokes feelings of hope and progress (amongst nostalgia of the Disneyland theme park, if like me you’ve been fortunate enough to visit) – it comes as a great surprise that Tomorrowland points toward a future where war, climate change and dystopia have ruined the world.

But that’s not the future you want to buy a movie ticket to see, is it? We only need to switch on our televisions, browse the Internet, even look out the window to see that. Well, Brad Bird’s new sci-fi action film Tomorrowland manages to look to a grim future and offer an escape that is super appealing.

Tomorrowland recounts the story of bright teen Casey Newton (Robertson). She stumbles across a pin that when touched, transports her to another place in time and space, a wheat field on the edge of Tomorrowland. Of course, this raises a bunch of questions and she tracks down grumpy inventor Frank Walter (Clooney) for answers. The two embark on an adventure to discover more about the place, but are tailed by creepy robots masquerading as secret service agents (with incredible teeth).

For a film dripping in invention, Brad Bird ensures creativity is at the heart of Tomorrowland. In particular, the scenes where Casey is transported between worlds are very well executed. For the majority of the film, the action is compelling and moves quickly – you feel very caught up in the action. That said, I preferred the scenes on earth before the final act when Casey and Frank depart for other dimensions.

There is plenty of clever humour here, nods to Tron: Legacy and Men in Black, and it’s very Disney. For a film about the future, there’s plenty of Disney nostalgia to enjoy. I actually found it liberating to watch a new Disney live action flick that isn’t about princesses or fairy tales – this will be especially loved by teen guys and girls.

“This is a story about the future. And the future can be scary.”

Tomorrowland itself is represented as a utopia. Bird takes us for a tour via jetpack and gloriously exciting tracking shots. It’s a gleaming city in the middle of beautiful orange wheat fields. It’s a mighty contrast to the future shown for earth, headed for destruction, but this fantasy ride celebrates a hope of another place where things are shiny, and imagination is at the forefront of society.

I couldn’t help but see the parallels between our devastated world and the world to come – the one that Jesus is returning to restore. In Revelation, the new earth is described as a city – and one that is immune from disaster, suffering and pain. It’s the ultimate picture of hope. Revelation 21:2-4:

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.””

What an incredible picture John paints here! It’s a city where peace and justice reigns, and where God’s people are able to dwell with him forever. It’s not just an escape from this fallen world, but it’s a permanent restoration of how things were created to be before sin entered the world. Tomorrowland is attractive, but heaven is real, and a certain hope.

Tomorrowland is an action flick that provides many thrills. Although I was a little disappointed by the end, Bird has directed an exciting adventure through time and space that engages your brain. I’m giving Tomorrowland four stars.

Tomorrowland will be released in cinemas across the US and UK this Friday 22nd May. It releases in Australia next Thursday 28th May.

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