Tomorrowland a message in search of a movie

Thomas Robinson

“Dreamers are mocked as impractical. The truth is they are the most practical, as their innovations lead to progress and a better way of life for all of us.” — Robin S. Sharma

“My own heroes are the dreamers, those men and women who tried to make the world a better place than when they found it, whether in small ways or great ones. Some succeeded, some failed, most had mixed results … but it is the effort that’s heroic, as I see it. Win or lose, I admire those who fight the good fight.” — George R.R. Martin

“We are all dreamers creating the next world, the next beautiful world for ourselves and for our children.”
— Yoko Ono

BY Molly Congdon
Gazette Reporter
The backbone of Disney’s latest feature film, “Tomorrowland,” is the same lesson that seems to shine through the darkness like a beacon of hope, and conquer (fill in the blank with wicked stepmother or other nagging problem): Dreams do come true, and those who dream of a better reality are the ones who make a difference in this world. They are the problem-solvers.

It’s a beautiful message, and I firmly believe that when a dreamer puts in the effort to make their vision an actuality the results can be extraordinary: Thomas Edison’s coming up with so much that shaped the modern world, Alexander Wolcott’s invention of the camera and the ability to capture and preserve a moment, the Wright brothers taking flight in that first airplane.

Unfortunately, “Tomorrowland” did not live up to the premise that it promised. Did anyone else see those dreamers fix much of anything? It seemed to me that we were told time and time again that no one dreams of gleaming, bright futures anymore. Perhaps that’s because they spent almost the whole movie carping about that fact instead of creating change.

Thrown together by destiny, science-savvy teenager Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) and middle-aged former boy genius inventor Frank Walker (George Clooney) embark on a quest to unearth the secrets of a place that exists in their collective memory.

It begins in the past with young Frank (Thomas Robinson) bringing his homemade jet pack to the New York World’s Fair in 1964 to enter it in the inventors contest. The judge, Nix (Hugh Laurie), glances at it and says: “How would this make the world a better place?”
“Can’t it just be fun?” responds Frank, sort of a Jimmy Neutron character.

This is where we also meet Nix’s daughter, Athena (Raffey Cassidy), who has some skills that most humans lack. One is that she can ferry souls to Tomorrowland — a dazzling, almost glasslike city of sparkling towers, arcing pathways that sit in the air like the rings on Saturn and flying cars. No big deal, right?

While riding one of the fair attractions, Frank takes a downward tumble into a vortex. Hmm I think I’m getting déjà vu . . .

This movie is an intersection between Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”; L. Frank Baum’s “The Wizard of Oz”; and the classic animated sitcom of futuristic life produced by Hanna-Barbera, “The Jetsons.”

Naturally this isn’t the only doorway to Tomorrowland. In fact, the best way to travel there is by touching a button; as soon as contact occurs you’re whisked away to a field of wheat (a celiac’s worst nightmare) with a glittering metropolis in view. This is how Casey first gets acquainted with Tomorrowland. She becomes one of Athena’s recruits — sending her Frank’s way — after attempting to sabotage the demolition of a NASA launch site.

The survival of the planet is at stake . . . how original. When does Earth not need saving? Basically, there is some action and it slowly grinds to a halt for the finale. Some one break out the sparklers.

The odd aspect of the film for me, and I imagine other viewers as well, was that Tomorrowland was still shrouded in mystery by the end of the film. Is it an actual place? Does it exist within the minds of our characters? Can I get a final answer, please?!
It’s never pleasant to feel unsatisfied when exiting the theater.

I had such high hopes when I walked into the theater. I took my seat, eagerly awaiting to be entertained and escape from reality while I delved into the realm of science fiction and fantasy. Sadly though, it wasn’t the fun-filled two hours I had hoped for; instead of diving in fully submerged, Brad Bird’s baby just dipped its toe in the water.
Wake me when the sermon is over.