Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Tomorrowland Never Knows

I guess Tomorrowland (2015) was one of the years big disappointments, and I guess I get it. I liked it, though.

One of the problems was the form - it starts with George Clooney and young Britt Robertson talking to the camera, trying to tell a story. Clooney goes first and tells the tale of his visit as a boy to the 1964 World's Fair - hey, I was at that Fair! And so was Ms. Spenser! But I don't really remember much, so never mind, excuse the interruption.

Anyway, boy-Clooney goes to the Fair with his jetpack invention, and discovers a whole word of Tomorrow, with people in jumpsuits and spaceships and robots and and and... Let's go to Britt's story.

It is now the present. Britt is a young woman who likes to engage in a little light sabotage of the project to shut down the Canaveral launchpad. Her world is gritty, sour, frightened, almost dystopian, you know, the modern world. She finds a little Tomorrowland badge, and when she touches it, she can see Tomorrowland - the place the Clooney found, with crystal spires, anti-grav diving, jetpacks, spaceships, and and and...

Britt soon meets up with Raffey Cassidy, a tween waif with an adorable British lisp and a nice line of martial arts. And she leads Britt to Clooney and we eventually get the whole story. Except it really doesn't make much sense.

We get the overall theme of modern life being too pessimistic, obsessed with darkness, and the joy of science, of overcoming obstacles, of going beyond. We get this because it is hammered home in several clunky monologues, with illustrative montages. We get that Tomorrowland has been subverted by evil Governor Nix (Hugh Laurie!), who is Raffey's guardian. Also, the relationship between Clooney and Raffey is pretty clear even though they step on the scene that shows it (1 or 2 overhead long shots, in a flashback). But none of it holds together.

In addition, there is a Randian Galt's Gulch odor to some of the explanations of Tomorrowland, with the idea that you, the viewer are optimistic, yet practical, yet creative. You will get to live in Tomorrowland, not like those gloomy drudges in the real world.  But not quite because it isn't even that coherent.

Also, there's a lot of comedy and a lot of violent death, and I don't think they go together very well.

So, forget that, or blame it, like Rod Heath, on writer Damon Lindelof. Director Brad Bird is doing what he does best - beautiful constructions with a mid-century feel. If you ignore the plot, the settings and set pieces are fantastic. (Hint: Eiffel Tower.) The end credits, in a kind of Saul Bass meets the Jetsons style, are perhaps the best part.

1 comment:

mr. schprock said...

I felt this was supposed to be a good movie. I was looking forward to it. Rotten Tomatoes kept me away.