[dropcap]R[/dropcap]ecent trips to the multiplex have been filled with doom and gloom. There seems to be a constant fascination with examining the future and how we are going to screw it up. A recent filmed that I enjoyed, “Mad Max: Fury Road,” told us that if we don’t conserve water, we’re screwed and even TV shows like “The Walking Dead” examine the duality of human nature with a shrug.
It is always appreciated when a film comes around and brightens our imagination, but “Tomorrowland” is not that. The latest film from Director Brad Bird and Writer Damon Lindelof challenges us to broaden our minds and remember a time when we weren’t so cynical. But there’s a difference between igniting our imagination and scolding us for not being dreamers. “Tomorrowland” comes off as a crotchety, old man who is shaking his fist at youngsters for not respecting the good ole days.
This theme is shown early as you meet a young Frank (Thomas Robinson), an optimistic go-getter who brings his prototype jetpack to a competition at the 1964 World’s Fair. He ultimately loses and is scolded by one of the judges (Hugh Laurie) for not designing his invention well enough. What may you ask is it not designed enough for? Well that doesn’t matter because the film gives you the message that as long as you dream, you are a superstar. This is when the rose-tinted glasses outlook starts to become unbearable.
After being kicked while he’s down by those mean old judges, Frank is taken to a magical world, Tomorrowland, hidden under the World’s Fair. Here Frank is introduced to other inventors and dreamers like himself. After a while, Frank starts to become cynical about the current world and decides to become a hermit and transform into George Clooney. I guess all isn’t bad in the world then.
The story then switches over to Casey (Britt Robertson). Much like Frank, she is an inquisitive young person who wants to buck the trends that society has laid out for her. She finds a Tomorrowland pin and is whisked away to this world, which has become a run-down shell of its former self, much like the real Tomorrowland at the Disney Parks. It is up to Casey and Frank to repair this world and stop it from becoming the down trodden real world.
I appreciate when a work of art is original and tries to inspire, however, “Tomorrowland” can’t seem to stop praising itself. Over and over again, you hear speeches that are trying to be earnest, but come off as condescending. I can dream and be creative, just don’t cram it down my throat. The film is a mashup of both Bird and Lindelof’s aesthetics. Many of Bird’s previous films (“The Iron Giant,” “The Incredibles” and even “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”) have skewed toward the optimism of yesteryear, making viewers appreciate and yearn for those times. Lindelof, on the other hand, (“Lost,” “The Leftovers”) is a bit more heavy-handed with his metaphors and that is part of the problem with some of his pieces of work. Lindelof presents so many questions and seems to have difficulty trying to answer them. That is how this film turns out. You have Bird’s optimism and Lindelof’s questions combined into a mish mosh of a movie that falls flat. I loved some of the action sequences and particularly the art direction of the film, but I started to roll my eyes with all heavy handedness towards the end.
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