Walt Disney was always looking toward the future, and it showed through in so much of what he gave to the world. He designed the original Tomorrowland in Disneyland to allow guests to be able to participate in a glimpse of what the future had to offer in order to provide them a positive outlook on what was to come. His goal being simple, inspire hope. In the movie Tomorrowland, Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof have taken that goal and weaved it into a modern tale where hope and despair are at odds, the world is losing, and it needs to be saved.
You can’t look at the world today and deny the underlying statement of the movie that we live in a very negatively driven society. The movie does paint that view very dark for much of the movie, basically stating that there is no hope, as the world marches ever forward to it’s end. They even go so far as to put a Doomsday Clock into the movie that counts down toward that end, one which defines the dark side of the movie and providing it a voice that ever counts down.
With that said, the negativity of things as shown in the movie, and the impending doom of the Earth, as mentioned above, despair is not the message of the movie. The message is actually hope. The message of the movie is provided to us through the main character Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) who is intended to be that embodiment of hope. This is in stark contrast Frank Walker (George Clooney) who is a man who has become so obsessed with the impending doom that he is lost in despair.
This dichotomy carries through the movie from it’s opening where Frank and Casey are shown to be telling us the story of the movie, right until it’s speech at the end. The message is simple, despite all the darkness there can be hope. The interplay between the concepts built into Casey and Frank carries much of the movie. Casey keeping it fun in a way, while Frank is keeping it real – despite all the unreal things he’s doing on screen.
With a plethora of science fiction themes like alternate realities, killer robots, and a steampunk trip to the moon the movie really does carry well throughout most of it. There’s actually a point in the special effects where I got goose bumps because so much crazy awesome was happening on screen that it was hard not to sit back and think “Wow!”. Cool concepts when well executed really do help me enjoy a movie more. You don’t have to really understand how they do X or Y or Z in Tomorrowland, and they don’t take the time to explain it to you. These combined help the movie not get stuck in exposition, despite that the entire movie is a flashback.
Parents should know that this movie does have quite a bit of in your face violence. Almost at time for the sake of violence rather than having a purpose. So this might not be a great film for younger viewers, but keep in mind we’re talking something along the lines of Men In Black or Revenge of the Sith. The movie is honestly not for everyone, even families may be split. There are some definite lull points that may actually bore some viewers.
That said, I really enjoyed the core story of the movie. I love the idea of a group of scientists that have, for quite some time, toiled away in another reality so they can expand and grow their knowledge freely for the good of mankind. It does work to inspire hope, and that’s a good message to put forth. On the downside it does suffer from the same problem that Damon Lindelof works generally have, the journey through the movie is way better than the end game of the story ever is. But, I had expected that going in. It also is a very well constructed story that is both entertaining and fun. For a more in depth view of Tomorrowland, check out episode 234 of the Disney Film Project Podcast in a few weeks.
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