George Clooney! Hugh Laurie! Together!
Those guys! More than just doctors, they’re movie stars! And supposedly, thoughtful, intelligent, smart, rich movie stars. Any film they’re involved with must have something to offer, right? So, Tomorrowland. They’re both in it! George and Hugh! Originally called 1952, it’s a big science fiction, adventure film. Optimistic. There’s a lot on offer. All the FUTURE!!
Brad Bird directed and co-wrote – one of his inspirational items was an original blueprint of Tomorrowland (part of Disneyland). Visible under that blueprint is the map of another land, an idealistic future place, never built by Disney. That’s what Brad Bird wanted to make for his film. A place crafted by artists and creatives without politics or greed. Here are the lead artists: George, Brad, Britt, Raffey and Hugh.
Two old men and two young girls. Let’s not think about that too long.
Saw George, Britt and Hugh on Graham Norton‘s show talking about the film. Sounded great. So we watched it. I hope everyone does watch it. As well as high production levels, amazing art and craft, there are some interesting ideas. But if you do want to watch it don’t bother reading this blog any further because I’ve come up with some spoilers for you!
On the face of it, this film feels like an answer to The Age of Stupid. (Sadly that title doesn’t do much to sell an otherwise provocative and interesting film. If you get a chance, it includes one of the best ‘aha’ moments ever on screen.) This was one of Pete Postlethwaite‘s last films and documents the end of the world as we know it. He plays an archivist trying to understand what went wrong. Why did humans not save themselves when they had the chance?
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Tomorrowland puts forward a theory. Humans are brainwashing themselves into believing they have no chance in this grim global warming and beastly aggression. The end of life as we know it is inevitable because that’s what we’ve been told. The future has been forecast by some high-tech wizardry, that’s it, done and dusted. We succumb.
It takes a positive young person, Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) a thinker and questioner to ask ‘Why?’ When she raises doubts that the world’s apparently impending destruction is at all necessary, the chance of the world (people and place) ending drops immediately from 100% to 99.94%. Maybe the end is not so inevitable after all. Frank Walker (George Clooney), a retired genius, reluctantly agrees to assist her return to Tomorrowland and save the world. Much hilarity ensues.
Turns out, you have to be invited to Tomorrowland, a place in another dimension, that presumably is on Earth somewhere sometime. It’s a bit like a cult or the chosen few going to heaven. Let’s not think about that too long either.
There is much to enjoy in Tomorrowland, as I hope you find out, but something happened on the way to the shooting script. I’m not sure if the script that enticed Hugh Laurie was the one that got made. Did he have some say in how he wanted his character to be seen in a Disney film?
Because it’s his character, David Nix, who doesn’t have a clear objective. He’s maintaining this system of showing the worst possible outcomes to the people in the vain hope that humans will act to save themselves. And when they don’t, he becomes disillusioned and refuses to assist humans. So on the one hand, he does want to help humanity and the other, when the chips are down, he won’t.
At the start, why wouldn’t Nix, as director of a visionary theme park, eventually Governor, encourage a smart young fellow, Frank Walker, to continue with his clearly ambitious jet pack invention? What is Nix’s drive?
Is Nix’s negativity a result of penny-pinching, greed or something more sinister? Does he Nix any future (see what I did there?) for Tomorrowland just because he’s a misanthrope? He certainly has an interesting jodpher-esque costume, with scales on the sleeve, in the second part of the film which does lead one to think of evil villains.
Certainly, part of the vision of Tomorrowland involves guards and full-on weapons – not the innocent Disney peaceful idea one might hope for. But Nix himself is rather nice – he’s not an obvious villain. He doesn’t laugh absurdly and he doesn’t have a strange pet.
As for Frank, he’s invited in to Tomorrowland by a lovely girl robot, gets to develop the cool machine that brainwashes people and is then kicked out violently by violent nasty robots (presumably developed by the creative artist types). This backstory itches to be developed – maybe it was in a draft somewhere – and the story as shot slumps to the end …
Because, why do we want to go to live in Tomorrowland, another land in a different time and place, if we’ve saved the world as we know it? We can presumably, live on and improve the land we’ve got already. Drearyland. Earthland. Realland. Warland. Disasterland. Okay. Let’s not think about that.
There are amazing fight sequences between robots, lovely CG and fun sequences but with three writers credited – Bird, Lindelof and Jensen – the problems could have been fixed at the computer before the cameras were switched on.
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And why don’t humans fight except in self defence? It’s only robots that do maiming, blowing up and destroying stuff. Asimov’s rules? Let’s not think about that. Hasta mañana!