They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

Ohmygosh It's The Future! It's Amazeballs!

Wow. Last weekend of May. That means Monday is Memorial Day (Observed). Three-day weekend. The Flying Chevy Indianapolis 500. And the Summer of 2015 of Movies continues to roll on. Two movies of note this weekend. The other one is Far From The Madding Crowd. But then there's this one. What's not to love? SF, rated G for gosh sakes, starring George Clooney and spectacular looking. We could've seen this in IMAX at Celebration North, but might as well save bucks for other movies and get the better popcorn and easier walk at Holland 7.

Of course, we were amused by this:

Not sure which movie on the marquee I want to see more -- Avengers Age or Tomorrowland of Ultron?
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Didn't go out for dinner this time. Not with tomato bisque soup and meatloaf sandwiches at home!

Tomorrowland [G]
Holland 7 Theatre 2, 6:10pm, 2×$9.25
Relatively spoiler free review...

Yet another movie I knew nothing about until a few weeks ago when the first "utopian" trailer came out. This morning, the ads on my 2nd Kindle Fire HD had a link to a new trailer, which is darker. I suppose part of the issue is that I'm just not in the Disney and Rated G universe, so I probably wasn't attracting the advertising.

But George Clooney! In another SF role! Clooney is perfectly cast, where his old-time movie heartthrob good looks and voice are perfect for a place like Tomorrowland.

Tomorrowland continues two movie memes. The obvious first one is the turning of Disneyland/world rides into movies. First Pirates of the Caribbean and now Tomorrowland. What's next? It's A Small World? Oh, they sort of took care of that, didn't they? Maybe Space Mountain?

The second is the SF/F movie attraction with agriculture as metaphor. Walking into cornfields in A Field of Dreams, battling the Dust Bowl II in Interstellar and now wheat fields in Tomorrowland take you to the future.

Like last year's Interstellar, there's a lot of room to have an opening, or really a series of openings, which serve to not only ground the story, but also create the contrast needed to really appreciate Tomorrowland. The Wizard of Oz had a Technicolor Oz. Here we have a glorious bright Tomorrowland set against the dark of night or of interiors. There is some physical humor which I think is bright and sharp, and adds to the confusion our main characters are having to deal with, and not just something cute for the youngest audience members. They're puzzles, sometimes very serious puzzles, which our protags have to figure out.

The movie is part The Rocketeer via Electrolux, and there are strong hints of Men in Black, Contact, a little Tron and a little RoboCop, plus a dash of Mel Gibson's Conspiracy Theory Though of course, you're not exactly paranoid when they really are after you and trying to kill you... Also utopian hints of Pleasantville and The Giver. And a whopping load of nostalgia for the iconic World of Tomorrow. It was that first ten minutes in Tomorrowland itself that I wished we could've seen in IMAX. Hairstyle, clothes, hats and excited happiness included. Walt Disney was both a businessman and an optimist, who really pushed for a great future. It would be too saccharine and cloying if it weren't for the rest of the story.

Yes, there is CGI galore in this movie. And yet, Disney is able to give a depth and feel to Tomorrowland because they own "real" Tomorrowland properties they can use. ASIDE: I have a very fond nostalgic longing for the 1964 World's Fair in New York City. I lived in upstate New York from 1958-1968, but we never went to the World's Fair because it was "too far and too expensive". Having been taken a few years later to Expo 67 in Montreal, not going to the 1964 World's Fair is as big a regret as never having been to a rocket launch at Cape Canaveral. (huge-sigh)

Hugh Laurie, better known to most Americans as House M.D., is wonderfully understated as the governor of Tomorrowland. Casey and Athena, especially Athena, are well-cast. And even the boys -- young George Clooney and Casey's brother -- are certainly adequate. Tim McGraw plays Casey's father in a fairly disposable role. One wonders how much of his story was left on the cutting room floor.

There's a character named Hugo Gernsback, which immediately raised red flags with me -- not so much with our heroine -- as he is credited with creating the first science fiction magazine Amazing Stories in 1926.

Early reviews of this are mixed -- Rotten Tomatoes tonight was running at 49% -- but I wonder how much is dependent on your age and your expectations. They could easily have gone for a PG or PG-13 instead of Rated G, and probably picked up some better points with the big movie going teen demographic. It's not a blockbuster big summer movie like The Avengers: Age of Ultron or Mad Max: Fury Road already out this summer, but it IS a legitimate blockbuster just by virtue of the terrific big sets of Tomorrowland itself. At 2 hours 10 minutes there is plenty of time to develop the story and send out a bunch of false trails to muddy the waters as to which way they're going.

So okay, let's talk about SCIENCE for a moment. The good news is that they didn't go with inventing unobtainium. The bad news is that they've trumped Star Trek: The Next Generation by creating magical properties for neutrinos that real neutrinos simply don't have. It doesn't bother me too much because they obviously needed some kind of handwavium technology to do the things they needed to do and besides, it all feels more like they just picked a word out of a science book than actually care what real neutrinos do.

Besides, Tomorrowland is AMAZING.

On the other hand of science, the science literacy side (my big teaching moment), for a G-rated movie there is quite a capsule history of all things going wrong with our planet -- killer weather, global warming, rising sea levels, pollution, starvation, obesity, threats of nuclear extinction, etc., etc. So this is not totally worthless.

In my mind I had concocted a different explanation for the central crisis in Tomorrowland, one I think could certainly work -- I'm an SF writer after all -- but this one worked and has the virtue of being easy to discuss.

Oh, BTW, the opening company logo switch is probably the best I've seen since Raiders of the Lost Ark, which wasn't hurt at all by having called it before the movie started. (big-me-grin)


Trailers: Existing trailer for Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens. Even though it isn't actually George Lucas, will this be the Christmas present that erases the ignominy of the Star Wars Holiday Special? Expanded "plot" for Minions! And also more "plot" for Pixar's Inside Out about the little voices in our heads running amuck. It looks really cute and radiates a special use of color. Really hope this one is good.

ADDED: Oh, there's another trailer, from Aardman, the makers of those most excellent Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit, and they've done it again... with sheep.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal
Tags: movies, reviews, science fiction

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