Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland has been a mysterious production since it was first announced. The obvious connections to the Disney World attraction were clear, but how a full cinematic feature could be spawned from said attraction was very unclear.
The cast includes George Clooney, House star Hugh Laurie, dramedy actresses like Kathryn Hahn and Judy Greer and young star Britt Robertson (Under the Dome) in the central role. In recent weeks we’ve also learned more about the movie’s plot (see below) and seen some fantastical design for the production (see above) – but still, the fog of mystery hangs thick around Tomorrowland.
…That is, until New York Comic-Con 2014 came around to pierce that fog with a few rays of details and footage.
Tomorrowland follows a troubled teen named Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) who finds a mysterious pin in her possession – a pin that can transport her to another, technologically advanced world.
After that startling discovery Casey seeks the council of cantankerous inventor Frank Walker (George Clooney), who knows more than he lets on about the mysterious “Tomorrowland.” However, Casey’s entry into Tomorrowland sets off a chain of events that puts villainous minds and killer robot sentries on Casey and Frank’s trail.
Besides the teaser trailer above (which premiered for the first time worldwide during NYCC), we also got to see a clip from Tomorrowland that in no uncertain terms raised expectations for this film across the board.
The clip picks up where the teaser leaves off and finds Casey coming to the dilapidated home of Frank Walker. When she demands an audience, she is repelled off the doorstep by some kind of sonic defense device that betrays the hi-tech sophistication Walker hides under his home’s shoddy exterior. While Casey writhes in pain, out walks Walker, who tells the young girl that the pin she found, the sense of destiny pulling at her – and the entire promise of Tomorrowland – are not the validation she thinks they are. Walker heads back inside, slams his door, and leaves the young girl laying in the dirt.
Not to be deterred, Casey waits out a nighttime rain storm camped on Walker’s doorstep. Inside the house, Walker is running through his usual equipment check (a vast array of video screens seemingly monitoring global events) when an alarm sounds: an automated piece of farm equipment (tractor of some sort) has caught fire and is steering toward the house. Walker grabs an upgraded fire extinguisher and runs outside; using the device, he literally freezes the burning tractor into an ice block – and is pleased with himself for all of a second, until he notices Casey slipping into his home and locking him out. As Walker tries to run up to his front door, Casey returns the earlier favor and blasts him with the sonic device.
As Casey familiarizes herself with Walker’s screening room, the old man slips back in his house through a secret entrance. As he and Casey argue, another alarm goes off; Walker says “they followed you,” with an ominous look in his eye. Cue a small gang of smooth-faced goons (guys and gals) in generic blue body suits marching on Walker’s home; as the inventor activates security protocols, his house becomes an armored stronghold with blast doors and booby traps. The goons begin punching through the metal doors, revealing that they aren’t human; a few booby-traps later, we see they are in fact killer robots – who look like they could be animatronic figures from the actual Tomorrowland attraction (really creepy smiles).
The sequences ends with Walker leading Casey through his house as various booby-traps and fantastical inventions take out the invading robots. The final shot is Walker and Casey cramming awkwardly into Walker’s old-fashioned bathtub, which becomes a rocket and shoots them up out of the house to safety. It’s as crazy fun awesome as it all sounds.
- Director Brad Bird, writer Damon Lindelof and host Chris Hardwick led the panel; in attendance were stars Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson, and Raffey Cassidy – with a big SURPRISE appearance from George Clooney.
- Lindelof talks about having the idea and initially researching Tomorrowland attraction and Walt Disney as a futurist, and had the concept for film.
- Lindelof worked on part of Mission: Impossible 4 and he pitched Brad Bird, who was interested.
- Hugh Laurie and Britt Robertson come out.
- Laurie jokes that for once he’s playing a good guy (he’s really a villain in the film). Says he’s never heard this vision of the future or sci-fi and was uplifted (He’s English so it’s not easy for him to be uplifted). Got to read the script “Under beady eye of an armed man.”
- Robertson says Casey is 17, troubled, a dreamer – and can’t say more because they will whip her.
- Raffey Cassidy is Athena, gives Casey the pin; she says Athena is optimistic,knows Karate; helps people sometimes, but is not necessarily a good guy.
- Cassidy and Robertson say Clooney was fun and funny and easy-going; played music and was chill.
- Laurie jokes that Clooney didn’t play music for him (just read small print from an insurance form). He jokes about the drinking, the shouting – and Clooney being 75… until Clooney walks onstage.
- Clooney jokes about the irony that he’s honeymooning at NYCC. Hardwick takes a trademark selfie. This is Clooney’s first ‘Con. Hardwick congratulates him on his Bruce Wayne Cosplay. Clooney jokes he hasn’t been invited because of Batman & Robin; says he met Adam West and apologized to him for ruining Batman and nipples on the Bat-suit.
- Clooney jokes about two TV doctors (Him and Laurie) working together on the film. Chastises Bird and Lindelof for not showing more. Jokes he was barely in it, “I’m a big star!” Asks for more footage – featuring him.
- Panel ends with Bird obliging Clooney’s request and showing more footage.
If Tomorrowland wasn’t already on our most anticipated list for 2015 – it is now. Brad Bird looks to have another thrilling adventure like Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, with some of the more fantastical (yet grounded and heartfelt) stuff we saw in The Incredibles.
On the whole, this looks like one of those all-encompassing cinematic adventures that will offer neat ideas – and some awesome visual FX – to viewers of all ages.
Tomorrowland will be in theaters on May 22, 2015.