Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tomorrowland: A Review (Spoiler Alert)

If you, like me, always thought of Tomorrowland as a magical kind of place that you wanted to go to, then you too will go to the movie Tomorowland with anticipation, as I did.

I wish I could say that it was what I expected. I even wish I could say it was unexpected, and delightfully so. I wish I could say I liked it. I really wanted to. After all, the world of tomorrow should be everything we wish today to be and more.

Instead, the ever grumpy Frank Walker, played by the dashingly handsome but jadedly grumpy George Clooney dominated the atmosphere. It was like spending two solid hours with George Clooney and he was unhappy for most of it. Of course the story explained why he was grumpy. Of course he smiled a little in the end, which helped. A little.

The most innovative thing about the movie was the stunning time travel scene that honestly snagged me right off when I saw the trailer. Clever as it was, the evolution of the plot never surpassed that interesting editing trick.
The story:
NASA is shutting down the space program and destroying the rocket launch. Our heroine Casey, played brilliantly by Brit Robertson, a disappointed adolescent, enters by breaking into NASA with a remote controlled homemade drone with the goal of shutting down the cranes that are set to demolish the equipment, and soon finds herself in jail. As she is picking up her personal effects after posting bail, she finds a 'magic button' which propels her to another world when she touches it.

We then go back in time to the era when space exploration was at its heyday and we meet Clooney's character as a not-so-grumpy child. He visits the World's Fair in 1962, hoping to win a prize for his invention, a homemade personal jet-pack. He's rebuffed by the contest's sole judge, Nix, played by a grumpy Hugh Laurie. There's nothing we can really work with here, Laurie always plays grumpy parts. Walker is also given a 'magic button' from an enigmatic, but not really human girl named Athena, and it follows that he is smitten with the girl and the button, which takes him to the future, a sterile, highly mobile society where movement of every dimension seems paramount. The celestial city of the future is disappointingly familiar - crowded and busy, but most importantly for young Frank, his jet-pack is repaired by a mechanical genius of a robot.

We go back and forth from the present and the future many times with the characters, and in the end we find that the main characters, Frank and Casey, with the help of the droid girl Athena are the true Saviors of civilization. According to the IMDB blurb about the movie the future is in their collective memory.

Here's my problem. I don't much like the world of the present as portrayed by the movie - the modern ills of poverty, obesity, war, natural disaster, and the dismantling of the space program, which seems to have been the pinnacle of technological achievement, at least by the movie's standards. I don't like the world of Tomorrowland either, as it offered only more feindishly power-hungry leaders (although here I must say Laurie's portrayal of the evil Nix sizzled).

And then there was the question, or rather set of questions, I'm still trying to unravel enough to even ask:
If the vision of the demise of Tomorrowland was true, did Frank, Casey and Athena  save the present world and the future story of Tomorowland with one fell swoop? Both civilizations seemed on the brink, but Tomorrowland more definitively so. And did Casey save the world just by thinking she could, or by destroying Nix, or by throwing a bomb? Why couldn't Walker, a genius after all, have gotten his mental act togther if all it took was a triumph of positive mental thought? What was the spark in Casey's character that turned the tide?  Being gutsy? Being clever? Being positive? Thinking she could?

My takeaway is confusion. I wished that I could sum up the story with a recognizable thesis, but I just can't. It was a jumble to me. Perhaps I missed something?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.