Disney's "Tomorrowland", based on its legendary, theme-park attraction and directed by Brad ("The Incredibles"/"Iron Giant") Bird, is an essay in conflict and optimism, though surely more so the latter after its events reach fruition.
The story, as conveyed by middle-age Frank Walker (George Clooney) projects a future that could have been and may very well yet exist in some parallel plane. Walter, we learn, was granted access to this illustrious world after presenting his Rocketeer knock-off jetpack at the 1964 NY World's Fair's Hall of Invention. With the eventual help of its "curator", David Nix (Hugh Laurie), and an eager but mysterious, "adolescent", Athena (Raffey Cassidy), Walter seizes the chance to ensure a better tomorrow, until we learn his plans have gone astray.
Frank's story coincides with a current-day one: that of teenager Casey Newton (Britt Robinson), who also seeks a prosperous future. Her conviction gets her in trouble, however, particularly after a NASA break-in, but it also interferes on a more basic level when she dares to question her closed-minded teachers on the alleged inevitability of war and climate change, in addition to the likelihood that we're forever doomed to dystopian imprisonment.
Her zeal is detected by the futuristic Athena, and to link her to the grand cause, she's slipped a World's Fair pin, which when touched, grants access to another world, full of splendors and accomplishments. From there, she tracks down Walter to accompany him on a mission to ensure a superior world. This mission, however, may also be Walker's chance at redemption, since it appears he shares blame in why Tomorrowland never sustained stability.
Through Casey and Walter's journey, we are treated to sleek action sequences and ample science-fiction hardware, which should please even the most jaded viewers. At least none of the glitz diminishes the film's message, though for those of an indolent inclination, offense might be taken.
This is because "Tomorrowland's" script (as meticulously rendered by Bird, Damon Lindelof and Jeff Jenson) insists that we don't sit on our duffs to improve the world, or that we should simply let others refashion it for their off-the-cuff designs.
On the downside, the film borders on excessive positivism, especially when it emphasizes intellectualism as a prime means to saving the world. Let's face it: the likes of Ming the Merciless and Adolf Hitler were "intellectual" in their villainy. Even a number of our current "leaders" can't (or simply won't) distinguish right from wrong, going so far as to rob charitable causes and overlook acts of atrocity in the name of appeasement. "Tomorrowland's" emphasis, in this regard, is shamefully misguided.
Still, the film's "Star Trek" inspired notion that honorable people should work together for a just cause, churns a soothing appeal, even when the film meanders into annoying naivete. In fact, by its climax, "Tomorrowland" blindly embraces the "power of positive thinking" without an iota of apology, reinforcing its slant with a dash of "Close Encounters" and "This Island Earth" for those keen enough to discern the influences.
On a more important note, "Tomorrowland" embodies the aspirations of a gone-by era, which the insightful Walt Disney would have approved. Yes, regardless of what the naysayers proclaim, we can reach our goals, including such fanciful developments as flying machines, robots and even inter-dimensional travel, but only if we believe...only if we work hard to achieve.
That's a terrific message to relay in a time when apathy sometimes seems the common thread. "Tomorrowland" stands out because it tells us to "dream the impossible dream", and if we dare do so, the fruits of our imaginative labor could very well multiply a thousandfold.