Review: TOMORROWLAND (2015) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Monday, 18 May 2015

Review: TOMORROWLAND (2015)

Brad Bird's sci-fi adventure is a promising, but uneven effort that combines the childlike wonder of Steven Spielberg and the whiz-bang cinematic magic of Robert Zemeckis.

In the age where most high-profile studio pictures these days love to reveal too much footage in their trailers, TOMORROWLAND does the opposite: a big-budget summer blockbuster that follows the similar footsteps of J.J. Abrams' secretive marketing strategy (e.g. 2011's SUPER 8). This kind of approach often piques my interest even more to check out the movie.


Once upon a time, 11-year-old Frank Walker (Thomas Robinson) was an aspiring inventor who wished to win a competition at the 1964 World's Fair in New York City with his "jet pack" creation. Then he met an enigmatic young girl named Athena (Raffey Cassidy) and what happened next changes the course of his life forever. Now in the present day, Frank (George Clooney) has been living his life differently like a hermit on the family farm until a young teenage girl Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) shows up one day with a mysterious pin. Apparently, the particular pin has something to do with an otherworldly place known as "Tomorrowland".

From his successful animation background (THE IRON GIANT, THE INCREDIBLES) to his acclaimed live-action debut in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - GHOST PROTOCOL (2011), Brad Bird proves to be a tremendous visual stylist who knows well about fulfiling a crowd-pleasing entertainment for the masses. This is especially evident during the first half of the movie, with all the awe-inspiring moments surrounding the epic discovery of Tomorrowland. In fact, his filmmaking style reminds me of the young Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis used to do during the creative peaks of their blockbuster careers. No doubt Bird has brought a great sense of cinematic vigour to his zippy direction that will appeal to large demographics looking for a good old summer blockbuster that knows how to have fun.

TOMORROWLAND is also particularly notable for its technical achievement. The action is well-choreographed and exciting, while the special effects are equally top notch. Equally worth mentioning is Scott Chambliss' spectacular production design, as well as Michael Giacchino's vibrant score and Claudio Miranda's impressive cinematography that makes this movie such a sensory triumph of sound and visual.

George Clooney delivers a typically charismatic performance as Frank Walker, but it was the two up-and-coming young actresses that stands out the most. First up is Britt Robertson, a TV veteran who previously guest-starred in several acclaimed series such as CSI, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Under The Dome, finally scored a mainstream breakthrough with her lively performance as Casey Newton. Raffey Cassidy is equally terrific as Athena, a seemingly sweet and charming girl with a mysterious agenda. Despite playing only a small role, country singer-turned-actor Tim McGraw (I almost couldn't recognise him without his trademark cowboy hat!) is decent enough playing a fatherly role to Britt Robertson's character.

The extended prologue that tells young Frank's first experience visiting the futuristic world of Tomorrowland; and the elaborate action set-piece involving a group of killer robots trying to invade Frank's booby-trapped farmhouse.

No doubt the setup is all great until it almost convinced me that TOMORROWLAND is going to be one of the best summer blockbusters of 2015. Then came the eventual payoff, which leaves me cold and bewildered. I wouldn't want to go further with detailed explanation. But let's just say it ends up with heavy-handed exposition that raises more questions than answers. Another issue here is Hugh Laurie, an acclaimed actor who is sadly underutilised that fails to register as a strong, let alone worthy antagonist for his villain role.


TOMORROWLAND has all the big and interesting ideas that could have turned this into a cinematic masterpiece for the modern generation. Although it doesn't exactly reaches to its full potential, this movie remains a fascinating high-concept blockbuster with ample amount of entertainment value.

* This review is written courtesy from Walt Disney Malaysia IMAX press screening *

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