Blu-ray Review: TOMORROWLAND

7 min read
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I really liked Tomorrowland. I just wish I could have liked it more. The concept of a hidden society, founded by the greatest scientific thinkers of our age, tinkering away at technologies way more advanced than anything we currently have, may not be too original, but is certainly still an intriguing one. Throw in jetpacks, mechs, glistening gravity-defying towers of chrome and glass, and a healthy dose of inspirational motivation and a revered love for that trademark Disney imagineering, and in that regard, director/writer Brad Bird and co-writer Damon Lindelof certainly sell their vision of this mysterious technical utopia. But unfortunately, it’s a sale that doesn’t quite deliver on the goods in the end.

Tomorrowland follows Casey Newton (Britt Robertson), a bright-eyed youth with a genius knack for engineering and a seemingly inexhaustible sunny-side disposition, who gets “recruited” by a mysterious young girl named Athena (Raffey Cassidy) to do no less than saving the entire world. To do that, they need the help of curmudgeonly Frank Walker (George Clooney), a once a boy-genius himself who made it the mythical Tomorrowland only to be kicked out due to… Well, that would be telling. Point is: Walker is not a fan of the muckety-muck big brains on the other side of the dimensional divide, especially since they… Well, that would be telling again.

And if you’re frustrated by my clandestine approach, then chances are you may find Tomorrowland a tad bit irking. For while Bird and Lindelof set up a great mystery – one carried wonderfully on the shoulders of the extremely likable Robertson in a star making turn – they stretch out the whodunnit procedure a smidge too long so that when all is finally revealed, it’s merely a narrative hop and skip – with the obligatory banging big action sequence thrown in – before it all gets wrapped up.

A few edits with the script in the early going could have left more room for the film’s actual payoff to leave more of a lasting impression. The same can be said for the film’s message of hopefulness and imagination, which is undoubtedly inspirational but sometimes gets muddied along the way and could have done with more of a direct approach, as you often feel that the plot is spinning its wheels in its bloated second act when it should be bowling you over with wide-eyed wonder.

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But while the writing lets it down slightly, Tomorrowland – like the eponymous techno-fable city at the centre of its story – excels at the technical. Featuring jaw dropping visual effects and sweeping cinematography, Bird really knows how to let his movie shine. Coming from a celebrated background at Pixar (The Incredibles, Ratatouile), he clearly has the skills to use CG wizardry for maximum effect. And also just like he showed off in his live-action feature film debut Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Bird has fantastic action directing sensibilities, never clouding the amazing physical performances of his actor – particularly scenes involving Athena – as he shows off truly inventive action choreography that will definitely elicit a fist-pump or two. Maybe even a “whoop”.

And while they’re dodging phase-blasters or fighting hulking robots, the cast all turn in solid performances. Cassidy in particular has a great showing that is a palpable mix of precocious and badass. Clooney may not get pushed too hard, but he sells his character well, while Hugh Laurie, as David Nix the leader of Tomorrowland, also turns up to deliver a menacing monologue or two. Alas, he has no moustache to twirl.

All-in-all, Tomorrowland is a certainly an entertaining and flashy sci-fi adventure, and that would not have been a bad thing in any way if it wasn’t for the painfully obvious fact that there’s a truly great film in there that desperately wants to be freed. Ironic that in a movie all about achieving and surpassing your potential, that it just doesn’t quite pull it off itself.

Extras---divider-thinBLU-RAY TECHNICAL DETAILS:

Tomorrowland – or as it’s strangely labelled punctuation-less on the Blu-ray, Tomorrowland A World Beyond – boasts a superb visual transfer with all those flashy effects just popping off the screen in the finest detail. Disney have done a masterful job in achieving a picture almost completely free of graininess, which blends perfectly with the film’s shiny concept. So too the film’s lossless 7.1 audio track excels with meaty bass rumbles underscoring a crystal clear balance of voice and ambiance, as characters and items whip around the viewer with perfect clarity. This is definitely a movie that wants to be seen and heard on the very best audiovisual setups.

  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Aspect ration: 2.20:1
  • Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
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BONUS FEATURES:

The disc comes with several bonus features, which includes a number of deleted scenes. And while there are production diaries and behind the scene glimpses and the like, including a 7-minute long featurette about Bird talking about the parallels between the fictional Tomorrowland and the real-life Disney amusement park of the same name, I would have preferred more footage that delves in-depth into the actual origin of the story from Bird and Lindelof, seeing as how well-publicized the “mystery box” aspect of this movie’s development was. That being said, there’s more than enough additional content get over that slight.

  • Remembering the Future: A Personal Journey Through Tomorrowland with Brad Bird – Discover everything there is to know about the making of Tomorrowland through Director Brad Bird’s perspective.
  • Casting Tomorrowland – Join Brad Bird, Damon Lindelof, George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson, and Raffey Cassidy as they discuss the making of Tomorrowland.
  • A Great Big Beautiful Scoring Session – Famed composer Michael Giacchino invites Disney legend, Richard Sherman to join him in an informal visit to the Tomorrowland scoring stage, told through the personal lens of Michael’s brother, documentarian Anthony Giacchino.
  • The World of Tomorrow Science Hour – Hosted By Futurologist David Nix – Believe it or not but Nix used to host a children’s television program about science. Now watch the recently discover outtakes from the show.
  • Animated Short: The Origins of Plus Ultra – An animated story of how Tomorrowland came to be.
  • 3 Production diaries with Brad Bird
  • Blast from the Past Commercial – Go back in time and watch this original commercial for the Blast from the Past store.
  • 4 Easter Eggs
  • 8 Deleted Scenes with filmmaker intro

Last Updated: October 20, 2015

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions – but very little sleep – I’ve been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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