Tomorrowland Blu-ray Review
Don’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, dear boy.
Overlooking the hit and miss mystery story, as you’d only expect from Damon Lindelhof, Tomorrowland engages with futuristic vision and wild-eyed child-like glee, as you’d only expect from Brad Bird.Initially high concept, but thereafter fitfully intriguing and ultimately flawed, Tomorrowland: A World Beyond stems from writer/director Brad Bird’s fond memories of Disneyland’s futuristic Tomorrowland arena, and channels many of the same desires as Nolan’s Interstellar. Positing a world where the wonder and awe of the future has largely been depleted, and where mankind appears to be slowly heading towards their own assured self-destruction, Bird's labour of love is initially invested in reinvigorating that pioneering spirit of adventure, which has been slowly lost over the last half a century since the glorious days of the space race. It expounds its story through lead characters energetically played by George Clooney and Britt Robertson, who chart the events in their past – as children with very different backgrounds but the same core yearning to dream bigger –that led them to another world known as... Tomorrowland.What begins as intriguing and original however – channelling that Disney spirit whilst nodding briefly to cult favourites like The Rocketeer – soon unravels as what feels like classic Lindelhof plotting kicks into play, i.e. not having a clue where it’s actually going. Along the way, things take on more of a Men in Black and – unfortunately – Jupiter Ascending (another big original sci-fi flop of the year) feel and we crescendo to an undercooked conclusion which simply doesn’t live up to the inspired premise. Clooney has a blast, Robertson’s a compelling co-lead, and 13 year old Raffey Cassidy is certainly someone to keep an eye on; regular Bird co-conspirator Michael Giacchino provides a suitably soaring score, Bird himself proves capable – once again – of delivering large (IMAX) scale wonder and small scale heart, and suitably readjusted expectations will hopefully - for some - leave this a fun, warm, quintessentially Disney adventure.
Picture QualityFramed rather atypically in the IMAX-friendly theatrical ratio of 2.20:1 widescreen, Bird’s latest visionary delight hits UK Region Free Blu-ray complete with an unsurprisingly stunning 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation. Seamlessly blending in all the steampunk futuristic effects delights in the ‘real’ world sequences, the presentation – again, unsurprisingly – rises to a whole new level when we hit Tomorrowland; a visually opulent futurescape of towering, clinical structures set against bright blue skies and peppered with lush green foliage.
Tomorrowland is as visually magnificent as you’d expect from a futuristic Disney-inspired vision from Brad Bird.
Detail is impeccable, showcasing skin textures with fine observation, whilst landscapes – old, new and future – are given life through the same keen eye; robot drones far from just CG blobs, are instead worn and tempered with use, bringing palpable life to this child’s sandbox. The colour scheme is broad and vibrant, but commendably grounded in warm natural tones – golden fields playing against the background of Tomorrowland’s supposedly utopian skyline. Black levels are rich and deep; the Parisian night sky making for a superb backdrop against the electric events atop the Eiffel Tower. All-in-all, a superior, hard to fault video presentation.
The accompanying English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track is just as magnificent, right from the tweaked Disney logo.
As the rocket careens across your living room and lands in your right rear speaker, you immediately realise that you’re in for an acutely-tuned, finely detailed sound mix boasting a staggeringly detailed soundscape which has been clinically engineered to disseminate myriad effects – normally futuristic high-tech devices – around your home cinema environment. With dialogue rising above this to remain clear and coherent throughout, levelled at you from across the front and centre channels, the true atmosphere is crafted through the effects and the suitably magic-imbued (although nominally trademark) score from Bird regular composer Michael Giacchino. With plenty of LFE weight to undercut the jetpacks, future weaponry, and tamed ED-209-esque robots – not to mention the rockets and other technological marvels on offer – this is a superb track to help deliver a wondrous audiovisual experience for this feature.
ExtrasTomorrowland's Zavvi Exclusive Steelbook release boasts the same strong extras package as the standard release, which relies on a series of more-honest-than-normal featurettes to offer some background into the production. It largely eschews EPK fluff in favour of candid background observations and production details.
Remembering The Future: A Personal Journey Through Tomorrowland with Brad Bird spends 7 minutes with the writer/director discussing the original concept and inspiration, largely stemming from the Tomorrowland section of Disneyland, and Walt Disney’s desires to look towards the future. Casting Tomorrowland: A World Beyond expands this to look at the cast chosen for the piece, whilst A Great Big Beautiful Scoring Session looks behind Giacchino’s score. We also get some of Brad Bird’s Production Diaries, although it only amounts to a few minutes of actual footage. The remainder of the extras largely comprise extra footage, in one form or another, with 5 minutes of The World of Tomorrow Science Hour – Hosted By Futurologist David Nix (Hugh Laurie); Blast From the Past Commercial and 9 minutes of worth-watching-once Deleted Scenes, each introduced by Bird, and almost all expanding the background of Casey. There’s also a great little Animated Short: The Origins of Plus Ultra, which looks behind the great minds who paved the way of the future. This was supposed to be included in the main feature, in some way, and makes a great bit of background detail. The disc is rounded off by Previews.
A strong set of extra features adorn what is a suitably shiny steelbook package.
Although not quite what everybody was expecting, the steelbook release itself is still a nice, simple affair, devoting the entire front cover to a glossy, embossed rendition of that all too important pin from the film, whilst the rear showcases a Disney-castle-like image of the futuristic realm. It's not the most striking of Disney's live action release steelbooks, and arguably could have done with a little more effort, but the simplistic, almost iconic front image may well grow on you in a Green Hornet kind of way.
Worth watching to make up your own mind about the film, at least this Blu-ray release is a nice one.
Excellent video and audio, and a strong set of extras round out this suitably shiny steelbook package which will likely be lapped up by fans of the film, whilst newcomers might want to test the waters with a rental. There's plenty to enjoy with this imaginative Disney adventure, but also plenty to turn people off. So long as you allow yourself to get swept away in the wonder of it all, you should be alright.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £15.00
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