By T. Mack

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Tomorrowland is the story of Frank… No, wait. It’s the story of Casey. Actually, it’s the story of Frank and Casey, the girl and place that bring them together and the dream of how—with your help—they will save the world.

Disney has basically perfected the art of the family-friendly action adventure. This movie helps prove the point. With a story that manages to make sense, even in all its ludicrous glory, a cast of talented actors (even the very young ones) and a lot of fun special effects, Tomorrowland is an enjoyable movie and not a bad way to spend two hours.

George Clooney is Frank, a man who, as a child, took his invention to the 1964 New York World’s Fair and found himself transported to the future. Jump to the new millennium and meet Casey, a young mechanical prodigy who is sneaking onto NASA facilities and tampering with things. Casey is given the opportunity to glimpse the future that Frank once traveled to and she wants more of it. Frank, now a grumpy but attractive older man, wants nothing to do with Casey or the place that connects them. But there are killer robots chasing them, so he launches his bathtub into the sky and reluctantly guides her to the next phase of her adventure.

I liked this movie more than I thought I would. It is bright and shiny in the way everything Disney manages to be. And even though I’ve tried to build up a shield against the glittery distraction that Disney magic creates, I was lured in. From the beginning, Frank’s story intrigued me. When Casey was introduced, I wanted to know how she and he would end up connected, separated as they were by time and distance. At the end of the movie, I realized that no matter how far out the story got, it still held me. The two hours didn’t feel that long and I walked out of the theater not disappointed at the $10.50 I’d paid to see the film.

One of the most enjoyable things about this movie was the acting. The cast was absolutely stellar. George Clooney was, well, he was George Clooney. We all know the man can act (you know, when he’s not wearing a suit with Bat-nipples and being forced to spout ridiculous puns—Batman fans know what I’m talking about). Britt Robertson (The Longest Ride) did a great job as Casey. Even when she spent time running and screaming, it didn’t irritate me as much as that sort of thing usually does. She managed to keep it from being over the top and the pitch of her voice didn’t reach that high falsetto that makes glass crack. She combined just the right amount of cheer, wonder and sass to keep me reeled in. For the second time this month, Keegan-Michael Key (Key & Peele) suddenly graced a screen I wasn’t expecting to see him on and he was funny and terrific as usual. Hugh Laurey (House) was fantastic. And I really enjoyed Thomas Robinson (The Switch) as young Frank and Pierce Gagnon (Looper) as Casey’s little brother, Nate. These two young actors did a great job and really held their own.

The stand-out performance, though, came from Raffey Cassidy (Snow White and the Huntsman) as Athena. This girl was phenomenal, playing her part with perfect subtlety and wonderful emotion. Her expressions were fantastic and her eyes were utterly mesmerizing. It’s entirely possible that I may have fallen so deep into the watery depth of her blue eyes that I simply imagined her incredible talent, but I don’t think so. I think this girl really has it and I definitely look forward to seeing more of her.

As much as I enjoyed Tomorrowland, though, I could have done without the environmental conservation lecture. I don’t like when movies deteriorate into a finger being wagged at me for something I’m either doing wrong or not doing right. I didn’t like it in Happy Feet and I don’t like it here. To me, it undermines the story-telling when you stop telling the story to beat me over the head with the moral. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind there being a moral. But can you build it in and give me credit for getting it myself? Sigh. I guess not.

In the end, Tomorrowland, directed by Brad Bird, is a lecture on environmental preservation wrapped in a really fun, family-friendly adventure movie. With a moral that’s a bit heavy handed, the film is still well-written and well-acted enough that it can be forgiven for beating us over the head with its message. Children and parents alike will be able to enjoy the story and action.

Rating: 3 SHIELDS

3 SG Shields

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