Britt Robertson as Casey, in a scene from Disney’s ‘Tomorrowland.’ (Film Frame …

22 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

By George, I’m Baffled: Clooney’s new film about a jet-pack-wearing boy who travels into the future should be lots of fun – but it’s not, writes BRIAN VINER.

The movie begins in the recent past and the distant future. The upcoming Disney film revolves around a futuristic world located in another dimension, which can be accessed by a portal or a time-traveling rocket ship.Prominent on a wall in Tomorrowland, a futuristic city full of twisted skyscrapers and aerial highways, is a nice line from Albert Einstein: ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge.’ The youngsters at whom this overlong Disney film is notionally aimed have little or no chance of understanding much of what’s going on.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news to all those who were hoping to catch a glimpse of George in biker leathers this summer, the Oscar-winning actor has confirmed he has absolutely no plans to tour the Emerald Isle with pal Bono on Harleys. Precious child inventor Frank (played as a child by Thomas Robinson, Clooney as an adult) has made his way to the 1964 New York World’s Fair, jet pack in hand. But, unlike the rollicking fun of Pirates of the Caribbean, this one sacrifices story on the altar of gorgeous visuals and impressive special effects. There he meets Athena (Raffey Cassidy), a young girl who slips him a mysterious pin that allows him access to Tomorrowland, a future world where all the modern problems have been eradicated. Here are just a few of the futuristic technologies you can expect to see in “Tomorrowland,” which blasts into theaters today (May 22). [Science Fact or Fiction?

Just less than two hours in, the storyline suddenly comes into focus courtesy of the bad guy’s speech, and it is a g-o-o-d speech, but it’s too little, too late. When we first meet the prepubescent Frank (Thomas Robinson), he is showing his invention, a jet pack with Electrolux fuel canisters, to dismissive World’s Fair official David Nix (Hugh Laurie). That rather significant drawback apart, there is plenty to enjoy, not least a spirited performance by young British actress Raffey Cassidy, who holds her own even in scenes with George Clooney.

He said: “I spoke to a reporter a while back saying I’d like to go to Ireland someday and suddenly, I’m heading there with Bono, apparently, with the two of us on motorbike going around the country. “I don’t know where that came from but nothing like that was ever planned. The idea is sound, it’s just this film of ideas (the most obvious being Disney’s favourite message of be positive and you will solve all the world’s problems) is not supported by its story and ends up being dull. Frank also meets the perky and mysterious Athena (12-year-old at the time Raffey Cassidy), who gives him a pin and invites him on a water ride, where he is transported to the future.

Tracing the origin of the pin leads her to Athena, Frank and a mysterious world that has changed somewhat from Frank’s youth. “When I was a kid,” says Frank, “the future was different.” Director Brad Bird has made a big, handsome movie, ripe with imagination and eye-popping images that attempts to create the same kind of nostalgic awe as vintage Spielberg. He’s on tour right now, when is he ever going to get the time?” However, Clooney did reassure his Irish fans that he has every intention of coming here – when the weather gets better. Instead he draws out the story for two-hours-and-ten-minutes, taking too long to get to the fairly meagre why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along-and-save-the-world premise.

Then, in one of the film’s many disconcerting narrative lurches, we are introduced to Casey (the excellent Britt Robertson), the teenage daughter of a soon-to-be-unemployed Nasa engineer, who is fed up with her teachers telling her the world is going to hell in a handcart, and wants someone to suggest ways in which the handcart might be directed elsewhere. Newton, as in Isaac, I presume, uses a drone and electronic devices to sabotage a NASA installation because she wants to save her engineer father’s job. From the interconnected swimming pool pods to the special effects — You will believe George Clooney can fly! — to the Jetson’s style architecture it’s an eyeful. “Will you stop being amazed!” Frank says with exasperation, and no, we may not as long as Bird is entertaining the eye. Finally, the intrepid trio (Athena the robot, played by Raffey Cassidy, makes up the third part) make it to Tomorrowland and this is when the story starts going somewhere.

The catch is, the badge teleporters turn out to be nothing more than an advertisement for a version of Tomorrowland that no longer exists — unless Casey can convince Frank that it can be saved. After much mutual suspicion, they find a common enemy in some sinister androids, and a friend in Athena, though she is not quite what she appears to be, either. Classic science fiction has never shied away from saving the Earth and “Tomorrowland” should be congratulated for its world-is-going-to-heck point of view, but (MILD SPOILER ALERT) it’s preachy ‘The world could get better but no one is willing to put in the effort,” stance and ‘The future belongs to the dreamers” attitude it is naive. “Tomorrowland” is the rare kind of summer movie, one that values its originality and ideas.

It’s the oddest of Disney films, terrific action sequences cheek by jowl with philosophical speechifying, as if Bird, who showed his credentials with the delightful 2004 animation The Incredibles, couldn’t quite rein in the impulse to tell us what he thinks about the world. The rocket — which launches, improbably, from beneath the Eiffel Tower — is supposedly powered by “tachyons,” hypothetical particles that can move faster than light. Directed by Brad Bird (“The Incredibles,” “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol”) and co-written by him and Damon Lindelof, “Tomorrowland” is replete with the brand of hokum we associate with Lindelof’s screenplays for “Prometheus” and “Star Trek: Into Darkness.” It’s Lindelof-land, folks. Of course, it’s fine to festoon even a children’s film with worthwhile messages about humanity, especially the message that theirs is the generation that must finally put right the mistakes of their forebears.

The film, which not even the legendary editor Walter Murch (“Apocalypse Now”) could make sense of, suggests we are headed to global destruction because we secretly desire it and all we need to do to change course is think more optimistically. In the film, Tesla is one of four architects of Tomorrowland, along with American inventor Thomas Edison, French architect Gustave Eiffel and French novelist Jules Verne. Or, perhaps the trains are a reference to the electric car company Tesla Motors, whose CEO, Elon Musk, has developed designs for a hypothetical high-speed transport system based on pneumatic tubes, dubbed the Hyperloop. [Humanoid Robots to Flying Cars: 10 Coolest DARPA Projects] Of course, no futuristic world would be complete without artificially intelligent robots.

Verified email addresses: All users on Independent Media news sites are now required to have a verified email address before being allowed to comment on articles. Athena is not meant to have ideas or emotions, but after she meets the young Frank Walker, she finds herself developing feelings — one hallmark of humanlike intelligence, or “strong AI.” Like any good Disney film, Tomorrowland has villains. Their three children are engagingly played, with a particularly fine performance by Kyle Catlett as young Griffin, who hears creaks and sees ghosts even where there aren’t any, and then suffers the cosmic misfortune of moving to a house positively stuffed with them. Adding ballast to the basic plot — nice, ordinary family take up residence in seemingly nice, ordinary house, only to find that it has been built over an old cemetery and is besieged by furious poltergeists — are most of the standard horror cliches.

But director Gil Kenan tries to justify the decision to breathe life back into the iconic brand with a host of 21st-century accessories — flat-screen tellies, iPhones, iPads and so on, well and truly putting the Apple into apple-pie Americana. And, inevitably, the special-effects — as the youngest child, Maddy, is kidnapped by the grotesque spirits — are much slicker than first time around.

It all gets a little silly, though, especially with the arrival of Jared Harris as Irish poltergeist-buster Carrigan Burke, who finds that the house is ‘unloike anything oi’ve ever seen before’. She received a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a bachelor of science in biomedical engineering from Brown University. Silliness is almost a prerequisite of horror films, of course, but when they are sillier than they are scary, then they have to be marked down as a fail.

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