Creative, intelligent and inspiring, Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland is unlike anything that’s playing in theaters at the moment, or anything we’ve seen in quite some time.
We’ve barely made it one month into the Summer Movie Season, and the multiplexes are crowded with sequels. Familiarity breeds receipts, so if you scan the box office charts, you’ll see three sequels in the top three slots -- Mad Max: Fury Road, Pitch Perfect 2 and The Avengers: Age of Ultron. These blockbusters were preceded by Furious 7 and Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 -- meaning that half of the films in the current weekend Top 10 are extensions of stories we’ve already consumed.
Sequels aren’t evil, though. Most of the films mentioned above prove that it’s possible to advance a formula while entertaining an eager fan base. But sequels can be easy. Movies like Tomorrowland are hard. They require thought. Planning. Risk. They don’t have a pre-established source, or a powerful brand on which to lean. A movie like Tomorrowland asks you to gamble your time and money on an unfamiliar journey. In this instance, though, the risk comes with serious reward.
Perhaps its because we have been gorging on a steady diet of THE familiar that Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland strummed the chords of my imagination with its whimsical science-fiction tale. The film’s nostalgia for a knowledgeable era, and its noble messages of hope, inspired me to think bigger as I exited the theater. Hopefully the same sense of inquisitiveness and mystery will prompt you to explore Bird’s wondrous adventure. To help coax you along, I came up with three reasons why Tomorrowland sold me on its look-to-the-skies sense of astonishment.
Needless to say, this piece will dig into a few mild Tomorrowland spoilers, but nothing that will ruin the movie for you.
It Celebrates Scholars, Artists And DreamersTomorrowland, the fictional location in Brad Bird’s movie, is an alternate land existing in a separate dimension that was created so that the world’s best and brightest thinkers would have a place to experiment free from the imposing wills of politicians and bureaucrats. If geniuses like Thomas Edison, Jules Verne or Nikola Tesla could imagine it, they could work together to build it in Tomorrowland. The bulk of the movie follows young Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) on her quest to find a "gate" into Tomorrowland from our world – a mission that pairs her with both an aging and bitter inventor (George Clooney) and a pint-sized robot (Raffey Cassidy).
But it’s the reason Casey is "chosen" for this adventure that helps Tomorrowland stand out. She’s an intelligent optimist with a rebellious streak, a big-picture thinker who’d rather analyze the world’s problems than use them as an excuse for her own failures. And when it’s time to reestablish Tomorrowland as a thriving hub for creative thought, Casey is the driving force to recruit new artists, inventors, teachers, learners, activists, entrepreneurs… problem solvers. Tomorrowland recognizes our current culture born of a fascination with Armageddon, a post-apocalyptic, pop-culture landscape littered with the Mad Max’s, Walking Dead’s and Last Man On Earth’s of the world. That content had its time. Tomorrowland asks why we can’t think positively every once in a while, starting now.