By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In a break from the sea of dystopian offerings aimed at young adult audiences, the world of tomorrow is given a glossy, Disney makeover in the studio's latest big budget spectacular.
"Tomorrowland," out in U.S. theaters on Friday, sees Walt Disney's early visions of a scientific utopia come alive on screen; a vibrant creative paradise in a parallel realm, epitomizing mankind's true potential.
But Tomorrowland is mysteriously lost, and the task to recover and revitalize it falls on Casey Newton (Britt Robertson), a feisty teenage girl with an aptitude for science.
Her belief in the futuristic land leads her on a journey to Frank Walker (George Clooney), a former boy genius once enticed by the promise of Tomorrowland but now exiled and bitter.
"I loved how optimistic it was," Clooney said in an interview. "I loved the idea that it looked at the world saying 'the future is not what you see when you turn on the television and you get depressed and you're inundated with it.' It doesn't have to end that way."
Not that the movie doesn't touch on the real world cynicism that many may feel when presented with an upbeat, Disney-fied view of a perfect world that can be achieved through the power of belief and imagination.
"You have to acknowledge the elephant in the room," said director and co-writer Brad Bird, who called the film's cynical moments "an unbilled character," specifically harnessed through Clooney's character.
Made for an estimated $190 million, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com, the Walt Disney Co family film is inspired by the futuristic Tomorrowland attraction at Disney theme parks, celebrating scientific achievements.
It pays homage to Disney's own visions and harkens to 1960s and 1980s ideals of the future, with jet packs and teleporting. But the film argues against putting all hope into just one visionary. Instead, it exalts the idea of coming together.
"It is dangerous to put all of your faith in (one) idea or those people, but it's really good to embrace all of the good you can get out of it," Clooney said.
Sandwiched between big budget franchise films such as "Jurassic World" this summer, Bird said "Tomorrowland" is "an original in a forest of sequels."
The film is projected to draw $44 million in its U.S. opening this weekend.
(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Patricia Reaney and Dan Grebler)