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Tomorrowland (Blu-ray Review)

16 Oct, 2015 By: John Latchem

Box Office $93.44 million
$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG’ for sequences of sci-fi action violence and peril, thematic elements, and language.
Stars George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, Tim McGraw, Kathryn Hahn, Keegan-Michael Key.

There’s a lot to admire about Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland, which fully commits to the fictional world it wants to create. The central premise involves a colony of geniuses in a parallel dimension, where they develop advanced technology decades ahead of introducing it in the “real” world.

The problem comes in trying to get the audience as excited about the story as the filmmakers clearly were, despite the dazzling visual effects on display.

The film begins with a lengthy prologue in 1964, in which a boy named Frank gets on the It’s a Small World Ride at the New York World’s Fair and ends up being recruited to join the futuristic Tomorrowland by a girl named Athena (Raffey Cassidy), despite the objections of the colony’s leader, Nix (Hugh Laurie).

Cut to the present, and Athena is somehow stalking an underachieving teenager named Casey (Britt Robertson), whose dad is a NASA engineer. Athena gives Casey a mysterious token that introduces her to Tomorrowland, but to learn more Casey has to track down the older Frank (George Clooney), who for some reason has been exiled from Tomorrowland but might know of a way to get back. He sees Casey as the key to solving the problem that got him exiled, but agents of Tomorrowland have been sent to Earth to stop them.

There’s a lot of plot to digest, but any sense of wonder gets bogged down in exposition trying to explain it all, leading to a final revelation that will be pretty standard stuff for most sci-fi fans.

Judging from the Blu-ray extras, it’s pretty clear the filmmakers had their own troubles developing the story. There are several deleted scenes featuring entire subplots and characters that have been removed from the film when they decided to take the depiction of Casey in an entirely different direction, from disillusioned to optimistic.

These deleted scenes also include the bit from one of the trailers that explicitly references Tomorrowland as a theme park setting (supposedly Walt Disney set it up as a cover story for the colony). Thankfully this moment isn’t in the final film since it’s a bit too on-the-nose and cheesy.

However, the Blu-ray ups the fun factor with a couple of videos set in the world of Tomorrowland. The first is an animated short that can play as an introduction to the movie and delves further into the motivations for founding Tomorrowland. Another is a “newly discovered” fragment from an unproduced 1960s Disney TV show about science hosted by Nix, who amusingly shows his frustration holding back his advanced knowledge from the kids.

The Blu-ray also includes a number of production diaries and behind-the-scenes featurettes.

About the Author: John Latchem

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