By CORY WOODROOF

“Tomorrowland,” the latest film from creative virtuoso Brad Bird (“Ratatouille,” “The Incredibles”), has a lot on its mind.

“Tomorrowland,” the latest film from creative virtuoso Brad Bird (“Ratatouille,” “The Incredibles”), has a lot on its mind.

A film about important ideas and their place in our society, Bird’s sci-fi extravaganza wants to amaze and offer quite a bit of subtle insight into why it doesn’t want to fully explain what’s on screen. Explanations will go to the film’s primary thesis – the abandonment of hope for mankind’s future and the decay of innovation at the hands of cynicism and placid comfort in our projected path.

This all seems a bit heady for what otherwise is a whiz-bang good time at the movies, but for a filmmaker like Bird, the audience will get the principle with the pop.

Secrecy has been a linchpin of this film’s marketing campaign, and Bird himself has preached on social media the importance of going in to the movie fresh. With secrecy master Damon Lindelof (of “Lost” fame) on board as a screenwriter, many have wondered what exactly awaited them with the glistening gallery of gadgets and gizmos the trailers promised.

Surprisingly, the film has gone rather unspoiled by the previews, holding plenty of its biggest secrets close to the vest. The sneak peeks have shown Casey (Britt Robertson), a bright-and-rebellious teen, finding and touching a seemingly-magic pin and being transported to a land of futuristic enchantment, if only for a brief moment.

The pin leads her to meet a curmudgeonly reclusive inventor Frank Walker (George Clooney), who seems to know a bit more about the land she visited than she does. The two’s fates intertwine, and along with a mysterious young girl named Athena (Raffey Cassidy), set out on an adventure with plenty of perils along the way.

While Clooney is the biggest name attached to the project, “Tomorrowland” is Casey’s story, a tale about a hopeful girl who has been handpicked to help bring back a little wonder to the world, and, perhaps, change its dangerous course.

Bird has a long history of spectacular animated work, and with “Tomorrowland,” he’s able to take some of the awe and spectacle trademarked by animation and translate them to the live-action arena. 2011’s “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” proved Bird can navigate a major set piece with ease, but here, he’s able to interject a little more of the slapdash fun of animated action sequences.

Whether it be a nerdy brawl in a Texas memorabilia shop or a booby trap-filled escape in an old farmhouse, Bird isn’t afraid to make his action goofy and cartoonish. For a sci-fi film that has no problem bending reality, “Tomorrowland” can get away with making its action far-more fun and lively than is typically accustomed to the genre. This is a fun, fun movie to watch, but it’s not without an idea or two to drive home.

Of the film’s two big messages, the first is summarized by a line from Clooney’s Frank in which he wishes his traveling counterpart Casey would simply be amazed at what she’s seeing without needing an explanation. Outside of this on-the-nose hint, “Tomorrowland” conveys this first belief simply by telling its story the way it best sees fit. Bird and Lindelof refuse to share everything that has happened from the film’s linear beginning to end. Some of the movie’s plot is purely left up to the film-goer’s imagination.

That isn’t to say the film is confusing by any stretch. It’s a clean story that doesn’t really need a whole lot of explaining in the first place. But, there are certain narrative gaps behind the curtain that don’t get too much detail outside of a hint here and a nod there.

While not revealing the whole magic trick may be a major point pushed home, the heart of “Tomorrowland” lies with its core premise. The film boils down to, as Casey says, a battle between two wolves. One wolf being the pessimism, the other optimism. “Tomorrowland” chooses to feed the optimistic wolf a hearty helping of kibble and bits.

Bird has no desire to explain the plot past the point the he sees fit, and also has no problem using bulks of dialogue to press hard on the primary message he wants to get across. Joining in the chorus started by Christopher Nolan with last year’s “Interstellar,” Bird wants his audience to question why society has stopped dreaming of a brighter tomorrow. Even further, he wants to address why we’ve become so complacent with the direction the world is heading in and why we’ve become obsessed with fearing the apocalypse instead of actively thinking of ways to make the future better.

If anything, Bird makes Tomorrowland (the destination) a metaphor for lost innovation, for abandoned dreams. To Bird and to “Tomorrowland,” there is no room in the future for cynicism, no room for grumbly questions or morose realizations. The only way to go is up, and it’s going to be the hopeful ones that take us there.

As sentiment, this is a perfectly wonderful way to think. But, how effectively does the movie get this message across? The answer lies within the film’s finale. The script tends to get a bit preachy towards the final reveal – the most exposition given for plot and explanation given for theme. It’s carefully handled, but is still leaden with blunt fervor.

Bird wanted to get this message across hard – it’s peppered throughout the dialogue and is transfused in the film’s narrative. The message even gets, perhaps, the most important plot moment in the story. However, the momentum does come to a halt during this reveal – a finale is never the best time to halt momentum – but Bird does rebound with an affecting ending that makes the brief break for sermon understandable.

For a movie that sustains so much manic energy for so long, it’s a little disconcerting for the ending to be the point where lagging starts. Thankfully, Bird is able to pull it all together and still keep the film feeling immensely satisfying.

Perhaps Bird knew he could get away with a little preaching because the cast and crew were so extraordinarily assembled. Robertson and Cassidy are revelations in their respective roles. Robertson helps drive in the film’s hope-first message with her chipper Casey, and she masters early on the perfect reactions to whatever the film throws her character’s way. Cassidy, only a teenager, acts with the skill and grace of someone 50 years her senior. Giving the film’s best performance, Cassidy makes every moment for her Athena count.

Clooney is more of a supporting character here, but he takes the role in stride. Frank is a complex guy, and with as seasoned an actor as Clooney is, he has no trouble making Frank a compelling character to follow. And, how great is it to see Clooney in a super-fun popcorn movie? Hugh Laurie, Tim McGraw, Pierce Gagnon and Thomas Robinson also show up in four key supporting roles and do great work with their screen time.

Outside of Bird’s direction, his and Lindelof’s screenplay and the acting, Michael Giacchino turns in yet another peppy, premiere score with heavy sci-fi influence and DP Claudio Miranda gives the film a robust look.

All in all, “Tomorrowland” is a Disney-approved grand time at the movies – two hours of intelligently-designed sci-fi fun coupled with thoughtful rhetoric. There’s tons more to say about the film, and if Bird’s right, even more to do to get our world back on track to the hopeful mindset of yesterday. The movie is one of the year’s strongest, fullest titles so far and another great addition to Bird’s sterling filmography.