There was a time when the world believed the future would be better. That view held to the promise of better days within reach. But when that future arrived we found not a promise but what many saw as a curse.
Tomorrowland is director and co-writer Brad Bird’s ode to the return to a hope for a better tomorrow. Behind his movie is a statement against the doom and gloom that comes from pop culture.
If you think for a moment, and if you are literate with pop culture, most of what we see and read is about a dystopian future where nothing good comes and humans are left fighting for survival in nearly primitive fashion.
Tomorrowland is a story of two characters. The first is Casey Newton (Britt Robertson), a high school student who has heard from her teachers about global warming and the fact that the planet is dying. She wants to know what her teachers believe can be done to solve the problems. All these teachers offer are stares that speak of their lack of knowledge. Casey’s father (Tim McGraw) is an engineer for NASA and he gives to his daughter a belief in the possibilities of science.
Casey gets in a bit of trouble with the law. Upon her release she discovers a pin. When she touches it she is transported to a place where the skyline is filled with all manner of wonders. She can see it, but not reach it, and she becomes determined to find a way to it.
Her journey leads her to Frank Walker (George Clooney), a graying scientist living in a tumble-down house. We learn that Walker once was in that place and that it is called Tomorrowland. But he was banished from it and has no desire to return.
As the story moves forward we see these two forced to go to Tomorrowland, where they discover that it is Tomorrowland itself that is responsible for the doom and gloom people feel. Their task is to “reverse the curse” and bring back hope in a better tomorrow.
Director Bird creates a movie based on many set pieces. It’s like taking a ride. It reminded me of the “Back to the Future” ride at Universal Studios. When it works, it works as you move from place to place beholding the wonders of the ride. When it does not work, it is trying to give us an exposition on how the world got into the shape it is in. And that story is not that interesting.
I love Brad Bird. He directed two of my favorite movies, Iron Giant and The Incredibles. Both of these movies are animated features. Bird began his career working on The Simpsons.
Yet his live action movies are not that great. To be transparent, I almost fell asleep watching this movie.
That said, the idea behind it is worthwhile. Why does our larger culture and society feel like the future will be filled with bad things? How has that message come to dominate what pop culture tells us?
There is something to be said for a positive message about the future. What I feel this movie offers is a chance for the church to declare their belief that the future we have in God is one of a “future with a hope” as Jeremiah declares.
Bird had a great idea. The problem was the way he executed it. The movie fails in one important aspect: the idea gets lost in the special effects on the screen and the execution of the story. Sadly, our culture does not do well with wading through to get at the heart of what is being said. Therefore, I feel the message here will end up being lost.
Rated PG for sequences of sci-fi action violence and peril, thematic elements, and language
Directed by Brad Bird
Written by Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof
With: George Clooney (Frank Walker), Britt Robertson (Casey Newton), Hugh Laurey (Nix), Raffey Cassidy (Athena), Tim McGraw (Eddie Newton)