Saturday, February 06, 2016

Tomorrowland (2015)

There are all sorts of source material for movies.  Books are a natural choice, as the plot and structure are already there.  TV shows are also popular for a similar reason.  I’ve always wondered what the most difficult source material would be in terms of pulling a feature-length film.  Battleship is a good candidate for this, as it came from a board game.  I have to admit that I would have pegged Tomorrowland as a close second.  The movie seems to draw its name from the similarly named attraction found at the Disney parks.  You can see the influence in the sets and designs, but the story is largely original.

It begins with Frank Walker and Casey Newton telling their story, ostensibly to the audience.  Frank insists on beginning the story with his trip to the 1964 New York World's Fair.  A young Frank has a jet pack that he invented.  He shows it to an official named David Nix, but Nix dismisses the prototype, as it doesn’t actually seem to work yet.  Frank does draw the attention of a girl named Athena, who gets him passage to the futuristic Tomorrowland.

Cut to the present where Casey’s trying to sabotage some NASA equipment.  Her father works at the base, which is being decommissioned.  Yes, it’s futile.  Yes, it gets her arrested.  However, after being released, she comes into possession of a pin similar to one Athena gave to Frank.  Casey is now obsessed with finding Tomorrowland, even after the pin’s battery runs out.  Her only hope to actually get there (and, possibly, to save the world) is to find a now-grown Frank, who has been expelled from Tomorrowland.

I found the movie to be more of a balance than I expected.  I thought that it would either take place mostly in Tomorrowland or mostly in our world, but the movie made the transition midway through the movie.  Because of this, the movie didn’t drag.  I knew that if the movie relied too heavily on our world, the movie would rely too heavily on suspense.  If too much time was spent in Tomorrowland, there would be a risk of it being all starry-eyed wonder, which could get boring quickly.  (I still would have like to see a little more of Tomorroland.)

On that note, I had also wondered how optimistic the movie would be, since the Tomorrowland attraction is supposed to be about making advancements that benefit mankind.  The movie used that optimism and balanced it with an invention of Frank’s that went too far.  We have the option of building a brighter future, but we have to be careful about it.  Not every invention should see the light of day.

Instead of a good-versus-evil theme, we get a dreaming-versus-apathy theme.  The real world is full of people who just go through the motions.  They worry about paying the rent and taking care of families.  Tomorrowland is shiny and is all about potential and advancing society.  Granted, each world isn’t entirely what it seems, but the question becomes at what point do you give up on your dreams?

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