In A Christmas Story, wide-eyed Ralphie receives the highly coveted Little Orphan Annie secret decoder ring. It is told to unveil highly important, classified information, that only those of the Annie Secret Society could discover. But when Ralphie finally uncovers the special message, one he had waited months to discover, all he gets is a disappointing advertisement, reminding all children to drink their Ovaltine. If there ever was the perfect movie equivalent to this famous scene, Disney’s Tomorrowland would easily take that position.
Taking inspiration from the Disney Park area of the same name, Tomorrowland tells a story that is riddled with spoilers at every corner, but the basics should be known beforehand. Our lead, Casey (Britt Robertson) is an optimist at her core. She’s believed that everything has a solution, including some troubling issues going on with her father’s career. At her time of need, she discovers a pin, one that when touched, shows her a world like none she has ever seen before. This pushes Casey onto the thrill ride of her life, one that eventually brings her to a little girl, Athena (Raffey Cassidy) and an inventor, Frank (George Clooney). Together they’ll solve the mysteries of Tomorrowland, and then some.
At its core, Tomorrowland is a fun experience. No moment is slow, and no detail is left behind. In essence, it is a Disney nerd’s dream come true, with little easter eggs for Mouseketeers around the world to enjoy. From the use of the famous Sherman Brother’s tunes to the inclusion of Disney’s most recent brand acquisition, no Mouse Ear Hat or E-Ticket has been left unturned.
Also not neglected are the leads. With the combination of both Casey and Athena, we have yet another brilliant example in 2015 of two dynamic, inspiring, and well-rounded female leads. Neither of them are sexualized, nor have any true romances, and they have their goals focused completely on the task at hand. Props specifically should be given to newcomer Raffey Cassidy, who gives one of the best child actor performances to be seen in quite sometime. Where is my Athena doll, Disney?
George Clooney also does fantastic here, dialing down his usually charming persona, and instead plays off Frank’s hermit and paranoid character traits to a T. He embodies the crotchety old man of movies past, but with a deeper sense of grief and humiliation than other actors could portray.
Sadly, this can’t be said of everyone in the cast. The villain, which the movie likes to believe is a surprise, is one of the most bland and unmotivated of cinematic individuals, standing shoulder to shoulder with some of Marvel’s worst MCU baddies. If only time were given to a bit more of their development, the story could have had another more interesting layer to an already engrossing fable.
Unlike previous park-inspired flicks from the House of Mouse, Tomorrowland is more focused on its overall message, than becoming a popcorn flick franchise like the Pirates movies. Is the message as captivating as one would hope? No, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While other films have told similar stories, Tomorrowland is one of the few to tell it better than others have in the past. Unfortunately, the plot’s creative train seems to derail greatly after the reveal of said message, and it never quite gets back on its own unique track.
Overall, Director Brad Bird and co-screenwriter Damon Lindelof have written a story that, for the most part, is original in every modern-day sense of word. There is a clear devotion and respect to the material and characters within their technological fairy tale, an element that so few recent films seem to handle correctly. It sadly, like the Annie Decoder ring, could have revealed a unique and amazing secret to cherish for decades to come. But instead, we got an Ovaltine message, which though is meant well, isn’t the jawdropping experience Disney had been hinting at.
What did you think of Tomorrowland? Comment below with your views on the film, likes and dislikes, and more some.