Tomorrowland is a tragedy. Sometimes it’s tougher to see a movie fail because it tries too hard rather than because it tries too little. Director Brad Bird’s labor of love Tomorrowland aspires to be a transcendent movie experience. It aspires to uplift and inspire, to bring viewers in with spectacular special effects and the enormous star power of George Clooney while providing hope for our times. It aims to restore our faith in the future despite our daily setbacks, and it endeavors to push us to embrace a future that just might be a Utopia. That ambition is evident throughout this film. Britt Robertson plays a teenage girl named Casey Newton who idolizes her dad, a NASA worker whose job has him engineering the demolition of rocket platforms. The symbolism is obvious in that juxtaposition, of course. It’s also resonant of relationship, ambition, and the sense that Americans no longer take on the sorts of projects that literally lift us towards the moon. Casey is a troublemaker, sabotaging the demolition equipment, but she’s also a certain type of troublemaker – a monkey-wrencher who sees herself as making tiny changes that can at least pause the end of her dreams. Viewers are clearly intended to see ourselves through Newton and embrace the sincere and optimistic dreamer inside ourselves. And when Newton is given a mysterious pin that transports her to a far-off land that represents all her dreams, we’re given a bit of a Wizard of Oz set-up. In an extended sequence that’s the most powerful section of Tomorrowland, Newton imagines herself in a utopian world that seems to fulfill all her aspirations. She sees herself in a city full of enormous futuristic skyscrapers, a multicultural paradise in which everybody dresses fashionably, the trains run on time, and rockets through the solar system are as common as jets to New York. Sure, that’s a paradise, but there are so many aspects of that vision that jump out on further reflection. The city is spotless but viewers are never shown how it stays so clean. There’s no sense in any of these scenes that there’s any sort of class division among these people, which makes me wonder if Bird is implying that utopia includes removing those problems – an intriguing concept that I wish I’d seen explored more. The futuristic city also has one more aspect that jumps out: there are no older buildings there. History is erased, or ignored, in favor of the world of the future. Progress trumps all, and glittering perfection overwhelms historical hubbub. It’s a world that seems tempting, like a television ad promoting a perfect life but never explaining the costs behind such a life. Newton and we viewers find ourselves desperately dreaming of returning to that world, but it remains a chimera, teasing and calling to both Newton and us. In an ordinary film, we might expect George Clooney to be the man who brings us back to the utopia, maybe with the glow of the brilliant power of his stardom. Instead, though, Clooney is a bummer. We’re treated to an extended action scene that shows the star escaping from a slew of robots from that city of the future, but those scenes are all abstract and disembodied from the rest of the story, a classic example of action for the sake of action. I suppose we’re expected to gasp with oohs and aahs watching Clooney set automatic trapdoors, laser beams and other unimportant geegaws in escaping from these creatures. In a movie that aspires to be a sci-fi film of ideas, this scene shows a deep paucity of ideas. And that’s a tragedy. When the film finally moves to the city at the heart of Tomorrowland, and we witness Hugh Laurie (crazy Dr. House himself) fight with Clooney, Robertson, and their robot friend Raffey Cassidy, viewers are so exhausted by Bird’s relentless movement away from his core ideas, that we just throw up our hands with exhaustion. And that’s also a tragedy, because in the end the film makes a small move once again towards redeeming itself. The happy Hollywood ending seems to promise so much more – a utopia fulfilled with a world full of Newtons, delighted to find happiness. Somewhere in the middle of this filmic muddle, there’s a great film of ideas. In an alternate future, Tomorrowland inspired optimism among its viewers and triggered an enormous outcry to fund NASA exploration to Mars. In our world, though, Tomorrowland just saddens. Brad Bird aspired to deliver a glowing tower of a film, a thrilling, optimistic, galvanizing movie that brought light to our dark world. Instead he delivers a disappointment. The Blu-ray contains a generous selection of bonus features, including a set of deleted scenes that provide much-needed background on the city of Tomorowland. These scenes may have made the original movie longer, but they also would have added context to the film that would have helped viewers have more perspective on it. Also included on the disk are a documentary on Brad Bird’s journey to create this film. That’s a fascinating presentation because it shows how this movie was really a labor of love and provides insight on why it ultimately failed. We also get short features on the casting and score of the movie, along with two mock short features – one that purports to be deleted scenes from an old science show, the other a delightful cartoon telling more of the backstory of the city. If you enjoyed this movie in the theatre, the bonus scenes will help extend your appreciation of the world that Bird created. For viewers like me, who disliked the film, the bonus scenes will help you understand its successes and failures better. For me, though, they didn’t change my take on the movie. See larger image Tomorrowland [Blu-ray] In Disney’s riveting mystery adventure TOMORROWLAND, a jaded inventor and an optimistic teen embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space. New From: $9.74 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.