TOMORROWLAND – A DVD Review by John Strange

Disney's TOMORROWLAND..Casey (Britt Robertson) ..Ph: Film Frame..?Disney 2015
Disney's TOMORROWLAND..Casey (Britt Robertson) ..Ph: Film Frame..?Disney 2015
John Strange
Tomorrowland opens with a slightly different opening than most Disney Films.  Instead of the normal Magic Kingdom, we see the space-age Tomorrowland and a rocket instead of Tinkerbelle!  This is followed by a screen of static that resolves into Frank Walker (George Clooney) asking if the camera is on.  A voice from the side tells him it is and tells him to introduce himself.
He tries to present the story.  He is interrupted over and over as he tries to stumble his way through telling us what is going on.  He tells us that the future can be scary, full of war and pestilence.  The voice asks him to be more up-beat.  Frank doesn’t think that is a good idea.  The voice reminds him that he has said the future wasn’t always bleak and scary.  When asked about when that was he says it was when he was a kid.  The voice asks him to start there.
He does and the story jumps to a young Frank Walker (Thomas Robinson) who has taken his jet pack and left home to go to the 1964 New York World’s Fair to try to win a prize being offered for the best invention. 
Getting off the bus we can see that the filmmakers have spared no expense to recreate the World’s Fair.  It is visually stunning, especially to a ten year-old boy who is determined to make the world a better place, one invention at a time.
After standing in line his turn comes around.  He sets his bag on the table in front of the gentleman.  He says, “My name is John Frances Walker.  I am here to win the fifty dollars.”  He then tells about his invention as he reconnects certain parts that were removed to make the apparatus safer to carry in the bag.
A young girl walks up and is introduced as Athena (Raffey Cassidy).  She asks Frank if he built it himself and upon his admitting to this follows up with, “Why?”  Frank responds that he was tired of waiting around for someone else to do it for him!  The two smile shyly at each other. 
Then the Fifty dollar question is asked, “Does it work?”  Mostly.  It just doesn’t technically, fly.  The scene of his attempt is eye opening.  The follow-up question is harder to answer.  “How would this jet pack make the world a better pace?”  Frank can’t really answer with anything except that seeing it fly would inspire people to see it fly over their heads.  It would make them think that anything is possible.  Wouldn’t that make the world a better place?   The response?  “I suppose it would.  IF it worked.  Unfortunately, it does NOT.  And if it doesn’t work it has no purpose at all.  Thank you your time, Mr. Walker.”  Despite his protestations that he can make it work, he is dismissed.
Sitting outside the Hall of Invention with his bag of jet pack in his lap, Frank is surprised by Athena.  She points out a group of individuals led by the man who just turned Frank down walking through the crowds.  She instructs him to wait 20 seconds and then follow but to not get caught and slips something in his hand.
The group gets on a ride and Frank just misses the boat.  He slips ovr the side and runs down and catches an empty boat.  Inside the ride a laser reads the pin that Athena gave him and the boat is diverted to a very odd place.  A transport to somewhere is sitting there in a pool of light.  It looks like a gondola at a ski resort.
Frank is instructed to put on a safety helmet (which he can’t reach), then the transport windows are all shuttered, and the transport’s acceleration slams the young man to the floor.  He arrives and watches a flying machine leave the platform he is on.  Athena waves as it flies by.
Through a series of misadventures that include the jet pack being repaired by a giant robot, Frank falls from one level of the structure to another until he finally gets the pack on his back and saves himself by the narrowest of margins.
Now Frank flies his repaired jet pack around the city until he finds Athena.  They say any landing you can walk away from is a good one so I would have to say it was a good landing.  He asks Athena what this place is. The two turn, hand in hand to look out upon the city.  “And then everything went to hell”, interjects the older Frank.
After some bantering between them, Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) takes over and tells he side of the story.  Her story begins in 2003 with a very young Casey pointing out the stars in the sky and giving their names.  After telling her parents she wants to go to the stars she is asked what would happen if when she got to the stars and there was nothing?  Her reply?  “What if there was everything?”
More banter and Casey jumps ahead to a period more relevant to our story.  Her father is a NASA engineer who is working on the removal of the gantries at Cape Canaveral.  To slow the work down, she is sneaking onto the base at night and sabotaging the cranes.  Part of her equipment is a remote controlled helicopter with a video camera that allows her to see if the guards are watching.
Sadly, her work only slows the project down.  It doesn’t stop it.  And when the last platform is down, her father, Eddie Newton (Tim McGraw), will be an unemployed NASA engineer.  Casey urges him to be positive by telling him the same story he has used on her all her life.  Of the two wolves inside you, the one you feed should be the positive one, not the negative.
Leaving her father working at his bench she goes to school where the lectures are each darker that the previous one.  At one point, she manages to get to ask a question, “Can we fix it?”  Saved by the bell, the teacher does not answer.
Then the worst happens and she is caught at the Cape and arrested.  She is bailed out.  When she has her belongings returned to her, a strange pin is in the envelope.  Touching it, she finds herself in a wheat field looking at a distant futuristic city.  Startled, she drops the pin and is immediately back in the police station. 
Picking up the pin, she once again finds herself in the wheat field.  When she tries to walk toward the city, she rams her head into the wall.  She is seeing the city but is still in the real world.
Her father drives her home yelling at her about having to convince Homeland Security not to throw the book at her.  She tries to explain about the pin but when he touches it, nothing happens.  Casey touches it and she is floating along above the wheat seated as though still in the truck (GREAT EFFECT!).  She can’t understand why she is the only one who can see the city!  Eddie takes the pin and places it in the pocket of his jacket.
Sneaking the pin out of the jacket later that night Casey is back in the wheat field.  Like a good mime, she reacts to the invisible walls in front of her… until she stumbles and falls down the stairs.  She gets on her bike and ride off in the direction she sees the city to be in.  Arriving in a large field, she again touches the pin and finds herself in a futuristic city.  She is almost run into by a boy flying a jet pack. 
She follows the boys after they take off the jet packs.  She marvels at the sights of the city.  She gets on a monorail where she overhears a young lady telling her parents they are only going 20 light years!  Needless to say, she follows the girl off the train.  She sees one rocket land and another take off.  Arriving at the ship with the group including the young lady, Casey tries to follow but finds herself walking against resistance, like she is walking into a lake.  Just as she steps aboard the ship, the battery on the pin dies, leaving Casey standing waist deep in a swamp.
She needs to find out about the pin.  With her brothers help she finds a store in Houston that is looking to buy a pin just like hers.  She gets her brother to lie about her whereabouts and gets on a bus for Houston.  After she leaves, Athena shows up and gets Nate (Pierce Gagnon) to tell her what Casey is doing. 
Casey arrives at the store in Houston, Blast from the Past.  The owners of the store are more than just weird.  They are determined to make Casey tell them where she got the pin.  They don’t believe her when she says she doesn’t know.  When she tries to leave they pull beam weapons out the case.  The fight that ensues is very violent.  They don’t seem to care that they are blowing their store to smithereens!
Just as they are about to blast our heroine into her constituent atoms, a small silver ball is thrown through the shop’s window and encapsulates the pair in a dome of, frozen time?  Yep, that is exactly what it is.  Athena comes jumping through the window and rolls to a stop with her own beam weapon at the ready.  She tells Casey they have to get out of there because the time grenade won’t last much longer.  Easier said than done, Casey’s hand is trapped in the dome.
When  the dome releases her hand, Athena pulls Casey out of the path of the beams with no time to spare.  Athena and the pair from the store battle it out with Casey joining in where she can.  The battle ends with the the woman headless and the man stabbed with a spear.  They are robots and self destruct, destroying the store.
The girls steal a car and run.  Athena explains what just happened.  Casey doesn’t take the news that the pair were robots and panics when she finds out Athena is one as well.  Casey runs but Athena finally convinces her that the world she saw was real.  They head out to save the place.
Meanwhile, back at the store, a group of men arrive to take over the crime scene.  When one of the local police officers finds the burnt head of the female robot, the group’s leader rapidly destroys the police officers.  He has one of the group contact Governor Nix and tell him they have found the girl.
And back to Casey and Athena, driving north to Pitts Field, NY, where they will find someone who can help them get to the place they want to go.  Athena finally tells Casey the name of the man they are going to see, Frank Walker.  She then remembers the happy times they had in Tomorrowland while Casey takes a nap.  Casey wakes up as she is left in the road by Athena.  Looking up she sees the name “Walker” on the mailbox.
Walking up the drive she encounters a vicious dog.  And then she realizes the dog isn’t leaving any prints in the mud!  It’s a hologram!  Banging on Frank’s door, Casey does not get a warm welcome.  When he tries to make her understand that where she wants to go doesn’t exist anymore.  He leaves her on the ground and goes back inside to sit behind locked doors.
Casey sets his harvester on fire and aims it at the house.  Frank takes a device that looks like a vacuum cleaner out to put out the blaze.  The device coats the harvester in a thick coating of ice.  As he finishes putting out the fire, Frank looks around for the girl and sees her running into the house and slamming the door!
In one of the rooms of the house, Casey finds a room filled with monitors and a countdown clock.  While she is looking at it, Frank manages to get back into the house.  They argue about what is going on.  Frank admits to being thrown out of the place and all of the doors being locked tight.
The robots from the store arrive.  They give Frank one minute to give up the girl.  He doesn’t.  Again, we have a very violent but admittedly very neat battle between humans and robots.  Frank’s house has some very interesting devices for protection.
Escaping the house by using a bathtub that converts into a rocket, the two are picked up by Athena.  They go to a TV station where they go underground.  The device they find takes them to… Paris and the Eiffel Tower!
From here the story gets even more interesting.  Eiffel, Jules Verne, Thomas Edison and Nikolai Tesla formed a group to create a better world.  The tower was built to be a huge antenna.  It also holds a way to get across, a backup the group of scientists built as a backup.
The trio engages the system and a rocket comes up out of the ground below the tower which is now a gantry!  The robots arrive too late to stop them.  All of Paris are witnesses as the electric rocket propels itself into space!
When they awake from the ride, they are there!  The place is pretty much a lifeless husk of its former self, only a few robots are still there.  They are still led by the man/robot who tried to send Frank away all of those years ago, Governor David Nix (Hugh Laurie).
It turns out the machine that got Frank exiled was not just one that could tell you when you will die but might just be causing everyone to feel helpless to make things better.
The time our heroes spend over there is filled with amazing revelations on what might happen to the human race and what we need to do to save it.  Add in a wonderful battle between the robots, large and small and spice it with visions of thermonuclear war and you begin to see what you should expect.
Thankfully, the ending of this film is as bright and positive as this scene is dark and frightening.  The film takes its time telling us that we can have a bright future if we only get off our butts and work for it.
The film is filled with amazing special effects.  I would have loved it for those alone but the acting is first rate, the story is well written.  People who are not into sci-fi films have left the theater with a smile on their faces.  I can understand that.  I have one on my face right now.
Buy this one and enjoy it over and over again.  It’s classic Disney all the way and you will love it!
Directed By:
  • Brad Bird
  • George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, Tim McGraw, Kathryn Hahn, Keegan-Michael Key, Chris Bauer, Thomas Robinson, Pierce Gagnonn
Digital HD/SD*, Blu-ray Combo Pack & Disney Movies Anywhere (DMA)
  • 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 (Blu-ray and DMA Exclusive)
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.
  • Brad Bird Production Diaries
Diary Entry #1 – “The First Day” (Blu-ray and DMA Exclusive)
Diary Entry #2 – “Tomorrowland vs. the Weather” (DMA Exclusive)
Diary Entry #3 – “NASA”
  • Blast from the Past Commercial
Go back in time and watch this original commercial for the Blast from the Past store.
  • Deleted Scenes with Filmmaker Intro
Deleted Scene 1 – Joking on the Eiffel Tower
Deleted Scene 2 – Young Casey vs. The Volcano
Deleted Scene 3 – Doomsday Living Room
Deleted Scene 4 – As Originally Written Casey The Downer
Deleted Scene 5 – What Happened to Tomorrowland
Deleted Scene 6 – What is Tomorrowland
Deleted Scene 7 – Great Big Beautiful World World’s Fair (DMA Exclusive)
Deleted Scene 8 – Frank Walker age 10 (DMA Exclusive)
  • 4 Easter Eggs
*Digital bonus offerings may vary by retailer               
  • Brad Bird Production Diaries
Diary Entry #3 – “NASA”
  • Blast from the Past Commercial
Go back in time and watch this original commercial for the Blast from the Past store.
  • 130 Minutes
  • Walt Disney Pictures
Release Date:
  • 10/13/2015
  • 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
MPAA Rating:
  • Rated PG (for sequences of sci-fi action violence and peril, thematic elements, and language)
Selig Rating:
Selig Rating Scale:
BRAND NEW: Should add to your DVD collection at any cost
SALE ITEM: Worth owning, but try to catch it a sale
SECOND HAND: Plan to get it, but wait to buy it used
RENTAL: Worth taking a look at, but not owning
COASTER: Pick it up at a garage sale and use it for drinks
PULL!: Makes a great Trap Shooting target
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