Thursday, October 22, 2015

Tomorrowland—Not Just a Ride Anymore!

We're gonna need bigger jet packs.
Back to the Future is now in our past.  The fan celebration of that fact, and the renewed interest in the film franchise, was almost as loud as the millions of voices crying out in online fangasm for another franchise about to take us, once again, to a galaxy far, far away—Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  It might be better called Star Wars: We’ll Make it Profitable but Please Don’t Let Us Down Like Lucas Did.  Anyone who doubts that this movie will be a success at the box office, no matter what the quality of the script or the acting, need only look at the numbers for the last Star Wars “failure”.

$848 million will buy a lot of beer.

If only that could be said of Tomorrowland.  Slightly ahead of all this excitement, I watched this epic film of epicness starring Britt Robertson and Raffey Cassidy.  George Cloony, Hugh Laurie and even Tim McGraw (as an improbably NASA engineer) are also along for the ride, but the real work is done by two amazing actresses.  Raffey, at the very least, deserves an Oscar nomination for her impressive efforts.  She’s certainly an actress to watch, and I swear invisible onion ninjas were doing their work as I watched her key scenes.

Pin of Awesomeness - +4 vs. Disillusionment
Above all, the greatest message this film delivers, like that of Back to the Future and Star Wars, the one that has touched me so much and made me a fan all in one fell swoop, is that inspiration is worth as much, if not more, than a working jet pack.  Whether it’s the nostalgia of going back to 1955, or a future of rocket ships and ray guns, the inspiration that these movies give is practically priceless.  If not for Star Wars Joss Whedon would never have conceived of the imminently superior Firefly/Serenity.  I was so affected by I ran out and purchased the new and old prop pins along with Brad Bird’s book Before Tomorrowland.  My wife was deeply disappointed, because this was one of the rare times she could tell I was deeply moved by a film AND she had an obvious gift she could give me.

There should be more Tomorrowland and they should release it yesterday.  Maybe this film was just aimed at me, as the clever little steampunk additions made my heart go pitter-pat.  Sadly, with the box office disappointment, that’s not likely to occur.
Yes, that's the Eiffel Tower launching an antique spaceship. 

Still, if you haven’t seen Tomorrowland, please do so.  It’s too easy to blow off as another Disney-ride-become-movie, a way for the Mouse House to milk its aging cash cows.  But keep in mind that this isn’t a third-string, straight-to-video effort.  Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol) wrote and directed along with Damon Lindelof (Lost, Star Trek: Into Darkness).  Bird even, respectfully, turned down directing Star Wars in favor of Tomorrowland because, “It's rare to do a film of size that's original, so those opportunities can't be missed either.”

The storytelling that goes on here is excellent, self-aware, funny and introspective.  This is not a science fiction film that phones it in by any means.  At one point, it does get a touch preachy, but since there is no partisan solution being offered, the aim of social awareness (which any film should strive for) can be forgiven.  In the end, the inspiration, the goal of finding “dreamers” in all walks of life, is a worthwhile one.

See it if you haven't already.  And if you have, see it again.

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