Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Reckless Optimism: Reviewing Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland

I don’t normally do movie reviews in this space.

That’s because first, most SF movies don’t deal with alternate universes and second, most SF movies that are currently in release are relentlessly bleak (think of the latest Mad Max iteration, or any one of the entries in the Hunger Games franchise, or the countless identical mindless zombie movies) as to make oneself run screaming in frustration from the theatre.

Then there’s Disney’s recently released Tomorrowland, directed by Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles) and starring George Clooney.  It manages to discuss parallel universes (okay, in a sideways –pardon the pun –way) and to also say that maybe we can be kinda sorta optimistic about the future.

Okay, a bit – but not too much – about the plot.  Tomorrowland – is city in a universe next door – where humanity’s best and brightest and go think, create, and do, unfettered by all of the traditional restraints. 

George Clooney plays Frank, an exile from this technological utopia, who lives a recluse’s life all the while watching the world around him fall apart.  Enter Casey, played by Britt Robertson, the daughter of a soon to be out of work NASA engineer who has just been arrested for sabotaging the demolition of an Apollo launch pad at Cape Canaveral.  Casey has been given a mysterious pin that transports her to Tomorrowland by a by an equally mysterious –and apparently ageless – young girl, Athena.  It’s Athena’s mission to recruit “dreamers” like Frank and Casey.

The plot moves along nicely, guided by director Bird's sure hand. I found it very entertaining.  Suffice it to say, you should see Tomorrowland. 

However, I want to address the point made in the film – and it is horrors, a “message film” – regarding the fact that we seem to have collectively, as I alluded to in my opening, given up a more optimistic future for a frankly apocalyptic one. It isn’t bad enough that we do face several real and very serious challenges to humanity’s continued survival that we seem to have actually started to anticipate the apocalypse – and dare I say it; cheer it on – in our mass media. 

I know there have always been movies and books on the subject, but these were balanced by some kind of optimism that we would somehow pull through our times, which is one of the reasons why Star Trek initially became so popular.

We as a culture need to be a bit more optimistic about the future and ourselves. Not wildly so, but realistically optimistic.  It beats the alternative.

Meanwhile, you can help out a poor unemployed writer by purchasing Elvis Saves JFK! for just 99 cents and War Plan Crimson, A Novel of Alternate History, for $2.99 and now The Key to My Heart, also $2.99 (all are free to preview). All books -- which are already on Smashword's premium distribution list -- are also available through such fine on-line retailers such as Sony, Chapters Indigo, Barnes & Noble and Apple's iTunes Store.   Thanks.