Monday, October 19, 2015

Tomorrowland (2015) A Review

What if all of our scientists and dreamers and writers had a chance to remake the world? And to do it without red tape or bureaucracy or any interference?

What if we had a chance to create the world of our dreams, one that not only helped the single mother but also gave license to our most inventive engineers?

This is the question that pulsates through through Tomorrowland, A Disney movie that only occasionally becomes, well, a Disney movie. (Coke, anyone?)

George Clooney plays a retired genius, a man brought to a world of dreams before he was kicked out decades earlier. He's a recluse, living in a house rigged with bombs and high-tech work to protect himself when his mates from "Tomorrowland" come to get him.

As per most movie reviews, I don't dwell on plot points. (I have always found them the most boring parts of any review, and you can find them by going to Rotten Tomatoes.)

What interests me, as both a novelist and storyteller. is what this movie attempts to do. It is grand, unexpected, and while it doesn't land it's final punch the way it could have, it is still inspiring.

When the first looks at Tomorrowland started appearing on the web in 2014, most thought it would be a box office smash. That it would be a typical box-office summer blockbuster.

That never happened.

And it's easy to see why. I'm not a huge fan of Disney (though they do have their moments) but in this movie they refuse to objectify their female teenage protagonist. (She wears a baseball hat the entire movie, a hat that belongs to her father, whom she loves.) And while there are some bitingly obvious brand placements (Coke), they do not cater to the usual "manifest destiny" of most blockbusters.

Yes, you can read it as an ode to "positivism." (Which is easily linked to individualism) But as a dreamer, you can feel more than that from the script. This isn't simply about artists. About writers. It's a movie about anyone who wants to make the world a better place. It's about people starting their own gardens. People doing ballet. People trying to do something to change the world.

Yeah, I know. It's a cliche. And if you just read this review, maybe it all sounds like a bad commercial.

It's not.

Tomorrowland takes a swing at some big ideas about humanity. No, it does not always register. It makes the typical Disney mistake of aiming too low. (Too many robots being killed that only an eight year old would like) But it tries. And in a time when Hollywood seems intent only on sequels and prequels, Tomrrowland is a bold attempt at something new.

What would tomorrow be like if we let our scientists speak? If we let our writers and artists speak? If we let everyone who had a dream for a better place not only speak, but act?

Too often, our popcorn blockbusters help us escape, but they don't make us think. Tomorrowland isn't perfect, but it does make us think. And for that, it deserves our consideration.

Highly recommended.

Steve