(PG) 2.5 out of 5
Director: Brad Bird.
Cast: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, Hugh Laurie, Tim McGraw.
AMID the crazy rides, the places to spend your Disney dollars, and the repetitive brainworm song It's A Small World, there is a place at Disneyland called Tomorrowland.
Originally it was intended by Walt Disney to offer visitors "a world of wondrous ideas ... a step into the future ... and the hope for a peaceful, unified world".
These days it's more about rides and Pixar tie-ins, but Mr Disney's primary ethos is the backbone of this family friendly sci-fi adventure, which follows in Pirates Of The Caribbean's footsteps of Disney attractions turned into movies.
Sadly Tomorrowland's wondrous ideas, of which there are many, are left in search of a strong narrative to hang on to and are hamstrung by a dodgy structure that seems to be trying to hide the lack of story.
It opens with young inventor Frank Walker (Thomas Robinson) visiting the 1964 World's Fair and meeting Athena (Cassidy) - a strange young girl who introduces him to the futuristic utopian parallel universe that is Tomorrowland.
In the present, we meet the equally inventive Casey (Robertson), who is shown a glimpse of Tomorrowland but must find Frank (played by Clooney in his older incarnation) in order to get there and potentially save the world.
These two set-ups are part of the structural problems that hamper the film. We get a first act with young Frank, followed by another "first act" to introduce Casey, so by the time we meet old Frank (which should be around the start of act two or the 20-30 minute mark) we're an hour into a film that seems blissfully content to wander along aimlessly.
The upshot of it all is we have a two-hour-plus movie that only gets to the point about 100 minutes, leaving all the juicy bits to be condensed into an unnecessarily wordy and rushed finale.
Admittedly some of those first 100 minutes are intriguing - Casey's vision of Tomorrowland is shown via one brilliant tracking shot, Frank's initial meeting with Casey is a highlight, Athena proves to be an increasingly fascinating character, and a sequence in Paris is impressive (if perhaps redundant).
All this makes Tomorrowland interesting as opposed to being entertaining or, better yet, both. The deeper ideas are ones Mr Disney would have approved of - it deals with optimism for the future, the power of ideas, the importance of dreamers, the beauty of ingenuity, the downfalls of negativity, the flaws of humanity, and ultimately our in-built drive towards self-destruction.
It's powerful stuff and impressive fodder for a PG-rated film but so many of these big ideas are slabbed together at the end of the film in the aforementioned rushed finale, and as a result, they come off as one sustained burst of soap-boxing rather than enduring themes that really resonate.
It's all a shame - the mis-shapen screenplay detracts from the fascinating ideas, impressive visuals, some clever sequences, and another reliable performance from the evergreen Clooney.
Given that the film deals with optimism for the future, perhaps the nicest way to talk about Tomorrowland is in terms of what may lie ahead - at best, Tomorrowland is as a cult classic in waiting.
In the present, though, it's kind of like an Apple Watch - a new invention that's flashy but isn't practical or as impressive as it should be.