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Tomorrowland: A World Beyond (4 stars)

Positive and progressive sci-fi from Brad Bird, featuring George Clooney

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Tomorrowland: A World Beyond

Disney's futuristic family adventure is not just solid summer entertainment, but also one of the most forward-thinking films to come out of any major studio. While George Clooney may have been given top billing, he plays a gracious second fiddle to the film’s female stars Britt Robertson and Raffey Cassidy. That two young women should drive such a blockbuster is exciting enough, but that their characters are allowed to behave in a fashion traditionally associated with men makes it positively groundbreaking. Indeed, together with Mad Max: Fury Road, Brad Bird's Tomorrowland is perhaps the biggest challenge yet to the traditional depiction of gender in mainstream movies.

Robertson takes the role of the science-obsessed Casey, whose curiosity is matched only by her sense of adventure. A seemingly chance encounter with a pin from the 1964 World’s Fair sees Casey discover Tomorrowland, a space-age city hidden in another dimension. Teaming up with the mysterious Athena (Cassidy) and child-genius-turned-grumpy-cynic Frank (Clooney), Casey is determined to unlock its secrets, however life-changing.

Visually, Tomorrowland is stunning, a gleaming version of the future as seen through the prism of 60s optimism, the unbridled imagination of youth and the unwavering moral fortitude of Disney. This is a place where scepticism comes to die, and where positivity and ambition are the only currency – the polar opposite, it is suggested, to Earth. While much fun is poked at the apocalyptic zeitgeist that informs so much of our popular culture, the film does strike a chord when it comes to how humanity blithely embraces such a horrifying, and entirely possible, fate.

It’s a sobering message, but this is Disney and the heroes always win out. That Casey and Athena are those heroes is thrilling, particularly given their freedom to utilise their intelligence, ingenuity, charm and brawn to save the world. They are characters to inspire and, in their very existence, it feels like commercial cinema may finally be entering the 21st century.

General release from Fri 22 May.

Tomorrowland

  • 4 stars
  • 2015
  • USA
  • 130 min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Brad Bird
  • Cast: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie
  • UK release: 22 May 2015

Science-obsessed teenager Casey (Robertson) teams up with mysterious Athena (Cassidy) and child-genius-turned-grump Frank (Clooney) to unlock the secrets of a mysterious pin. Futuristic family adventure, refreshingly driven by two young women; Casey and Athena are inspiring heroes and the visuals are stunning.

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