Directed by Brad Bird
Starring George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, Hugh Laurie
Youngsters get thrown into the rough quite a bit in Tomorrowland, and at least one of them even shows smeared blood after an injury. Absolutely none gets hurt.
But how young is the precociously named Casey Newton (Robertson) exactly? Old enough to drive a motorcycle and go into the night alone, but young enough to attend school? Old enough to leave home alone making an excuse of camping, but young enough to think she can prevent a NASA facility nearby from being torn down by small acts of vandalism? Old enough to fight mean robots away but young enough to ask an endless stream of questions in this hyper-pitched voice that should and must retire with teenage?
Yes, out-of-work NASA engineers do breed daughters brimming with insatiable curiosity (Interstellar). Tomorrowland also seeks to imagine parallel universes, time-space conundrums, and ecologically worn end-of-world scenarios. However, that’s where the similarity ends. Where Interstellar is about man’s quest for answers and the price it takes, Tomorrowland is a more run-of-the-mill affair about two worlds that is least interersted in the in-betweens.
If one of them is Earth, the other is a little-defined planet hosting a new world that has been created by the best of the Earthlings. Shiny, gleamy skyscrapers, giant pods to swim in and swim through, levitating trains, flying people, and dysfunctional clothes are its hallmark. Apart from the fact that people there routinely travel “20 lightyears away”.
Casey gets a glimpse of this world when she touches a pin with a giant T on it that has somehow made its way into her backpack. The curious girl wants answers.
Just like Frank (played by Thomas Robinson as a boy, and Clooney later) had wanted half a century ago. Frank with a gift for invention had landed up in Tomorrowland, ushered by Athena (Cassidy), and promptly fallen for her even though she is revealed to be an “audio-animatronic (robot)”.
It’s Athena again who recruits Casey, as by now Frank has left Tomorrowland broken and disillusioned. Casey’s enthusiasm, Athena hopes, can help heal Frank and fix what’s broken in Tomorrowland.
Most of their interaction, including a pretty busy one inside Frank’s tech-secured house, happens on Earth though, including the splitting of the Eiffel Tower. And while it is interesting to begin with, it gets tiresome after a while to watch Casey do her incessant chatter and Frank his weary, grey-haired, wise-eyed Clooney thing. It’s also a little queasy to watch Clooney cradle Athena, the small girl he once loved who has remained a girl even as he has grown into old age. Cassidy does a better channelling of their conflicting emotions than Clooney manages.
When they do get to Tomorrowland — after the brief snatches we have seen of this world earlier — all that registers is a giant tower, a big monitor that can watch Earth, particle trachyon that travels faster than light, and Hugh Laurie. The latter is wearing leather coat-tails and leather jodhpurs that may have left even Dr House blushing. And that’s even before Laurie’s ‘Governor Nix (Tomorrowland’s governor)’ gives his big, all-encompassing, all-admonishing lecture on Earth — a disappointment from a director who has given us delightfully entertaining and intelligent films such as Ratatouille and The Incredibles before.
How Casey figures the plot out before the others remains a vague explanation. But then Tomorrowland is all about presuming genius rather than understanding it. Thankfully, no one ever goes so far as to call Casey ‘Newton’. Frank consistently calls her ‘kid’.
If only she was that.