Before I begin to talk about Tomorrowland, it is probably important to note that I am a huge fan of Disney theme parks. I love all of the old documentaries about Walt Disney's vision of Tomorrow, his plans for Epcot (a utopian city in Walt Disney World that people could actually live in, but never got built) and the general retro-futuristic idea of the future that existed in the 1960s. Tomorrowland is an area in Disneyland theme parks that is modelled to that 1960's concept, and this film is based on this same idea.
I think it's important to realise that these retro-futuristic ideas that existed during the space age are not naive or even tongue-in-cheek, but they actually reflect the values of the people who lived in that era. Space missions were being launched and people honestly believed that jet-packs and robots were not too far away. Tomorrowland is a special place because it is built with those honest values and is not a replica. This film showcases these values too, but it does replicate them, naturally. It makes a solid comparison between the optimistic view of the future then and the pessimistic view now, and how that view can have a negative affect on society. David Nix (Hugh Laurie) turns the camera back to us in a memorable scene and asks us what we're doing to make the world a better place.
The film makes more social commentary in this regard as we see this future utopia in ruins, maybe suggesting that what could have been has been ruined by society's negative mindset. Director Brad Bird creates wonderful visual imagery to portray the utopian Tomorrowland that could exist. The main problem for this film is the confusing story line. It is hard to follow, not because it is cleverly complex, but because it just doesn't really make much sense. A lot of questions go unanswered and the ending feels a little bit lacklustre. The whole idea has a lot of potential but it doesn't hit hard enough when it needed to.
In terms of performances, all three of the main characters (George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy) perform their roles nicely and are well cast. Clooney's character is engaging and probably relatable for people that grew up in the 60's era. What this film lacks is a real antagonist. Instead, we have half of one who doesn't seem too evil and doesn't even really know what he's doing wrong. A real sense of evil would have added so much more depth to the story line and lifted some of the confusion.
Without spoiling the film, badges are given to those who have the ability to make the world a better place. The audience is confronted with another reflection of themselves. Do I get a badge? Do I deserve a badge? The film succeeds in terms of trying to restore and reproduce those old values and inspire the audience to have a positive outlook, but fails in terms of telling a story. It was an enjoyable film nonetheless and the visuals were wonderful throughout, but I'm not quite sure who the target audience is. It is supposed to be a family film but it is too complex for children and there are too many childish jokes for adults.