“Tomorrowland” starring George Clooney is an ambitious family friendly blockbuster

I love ambition. When you’re a filmmaker with some measure of clout, it always makes sense to really shoot for the stars, as it were. Not everyone does it, but director Brad Bird sure does. On Friday, Bird’s new flight of fancy Tomorrowland opens in theaters, hoping to capture the imaginations of families throughout the world. After the wild successes of The Incredibles and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Bird could basically do whatever he wanted, so he teamed up with scribe Damon Lindelof in order to make this unique tale happen. Not everyone agrees with me, but on my end, I’m thrilled that they did. Tomorrowland is something very singular and enjoyable.

In short, Tomorrowland is about imagination fueling the future. Without giving too much away, there is an actual place called Tomorrowland that basically features the world’s best and brightest. George Clooney plays an inventor who was once a visitor to the land as a boy. Now, he’s tracked down by Britt Robertson’s teen girl, someone who has been invited to the land, though this time it’s so she can essentially save the world. To say more would be to spoil the fun, but it’s got plenty on its mind, trust me there. The aforementioned Bird directs and co-writes with Lindelof and Jeff Jensen, while the cast besides Clooney and Robertson includes Raffey Cassidy, Pierce Gagnon, Judy Greer, Kathryn Hahn, Keegan-Michael Key, Hugh Laurie, Tim McGraw, Thomas Robinson, and more. Clooney, Laurie, and Robertson are the main attractions, though Cassidy has a surprisingly big part to play.

What works best here is the look and feel of the film. From Michael Giacchino’s score to Claudio Miranda’s cinematography, it all works towards Bird’s vision. You mix that with how ambitious and big hearted the story is, and there’s a lot going on. It’s not perfect, mind you, but any blockbuster that has a moral centered around hope, imagination, and optimism is something with a message worth spreading. Miranda and Giacchino help out Bird on the technical front, while Jensen and Lindelof are assisting on the scripting front. Throw in the cast, particularly Clooney and Robertson, and you have a team all racing towards the same admirable goal. It’s family friendly while never talking down to its audience.

I have my doubts that this will do much with the Academy, but there is a small amount of Oscar potential here. You can count out things like Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress, while Best Original Screenplay is probably a long shot at best. As such, it’s the technical fields or bust for Tomorrowland. The ones to watch out for are Best Original Score and Best Visual Effects. Others might wind up in play, but those two could certainly wind up happening. A shut out is definitely possible, but if that’s not the case, look Original Score or Visual Effects to be what saves the day on nomination morning.

This weekend, you have a chance to embrace something a little bit different when Tomorrowland hits theaters. It really offers you a chance to visit another world, while telling a tale that’s fully applicable to this one. Clooney is solid, Robertson continues to become a bigger star (if you’ve never seen her in the films Ask Me Anything and The First Time, check those out…she’s got a ton of talent), and Bird takes another step towards becoming one of the most interesting filmmakers in the industry. Family friendly sci-fi adventures can often sound iffy at best, this one has the goods. Tomorrowland delivers and shows us that the impending summer movie season could very well be a good one. Don’t you dare miss out on this blockbuster film…

Be sure to check out Tomorrowland when it opens on Friday!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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