Thursday, June 25, 2015
Somewhat on a whim, my daughter and I went to see Tomorrowland, a movie about which I knew almost nothing save that it starred George Clooney and featured a bunch of robots. I guessed it was some attempt to monetize for the theater goer another part of the Disney park experience as the highly profitable Pirates of the Caribbean had done, but that's all I thought I knew.
So I was very pleased to find an engaging movie, well told with original characters doing a number of things I found most entertaining. There was Clooney, playing a reticent hero named "Frank Walker" who alongside a bright, troublesome, but charming teen named "Casey" (Britt Robertson) and an unusually wise little girl named properly "Athena" (Raffey Cassidy) have to find a way to save us all, and the cool part is that they get to use jet packs and rocket ships and savvy and wits and courage to do it. It's a banging good flick, which is thoroughly entertaining and surprisingly brutal at times (given its Disney heritage).
The movie's theme is one that cuts to the heart of a yokel my age (50's). When I was ten I was one of many millions who basked in the uplifting glory of putting a man on the Moon, a great achievement for any culture. But alas since that day, because of the sobering reality of the energy crisis, the faltering of an economy which more and more seems about today and not tomorrow, the society has turned its back on that promise so long ago. We have rejected the utopian notions of a better society, filled with wonders and instead given into a grimmer more dystopic view of the future. We have traded in the antic thrill of Flash Gordon for the cautionary ruminations of the The Terminator.
The future became less about what we could achieve and more about what we could preserve. Our society has given in, preferring to anticipate the collapse of society with a passivity that passes for realism, but which is actually fatalism. As Hugh Laurie's character "Nix" put it, a belief in a ultimate destruction of our world is an easy fit because that belief requires "nothing of us" to accept it. We can merely sit back, watch, and wait with the calm reassurance we were right all the time. It's a potent theme, which many I see call naive and even reactionary, but it's truth is hurtful.
Since I've seen the movie, I've been reading reviews and many are lukewarm or negative. I don't agree, but one thing many point to is that the actual city of "Tomorrowland" is not thoroughly realized. I got it and I'm pretty dim, so I'm not sure what the rub is.
If you're in my age cohort then you will get a special thrill from a movie which showcases a number of the toys and daydreams of our youth. If you, like me prefer a future more like The Jetsons than like Thundarr the Barbarian, more like Tommy Tomorrow than like Kamnadi, then you'll love this movie.