Tomorrowland Is A Whimsical Place

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Tomorrowland is a bright, sometimes wondrous spectacle that shines in spite of its flaws. Thanks for that goes to director Brad Bird who continues to demonstrate why he is one talented director. Tomorrowland has so many fantastic merits: acting, cinematography, special effects and it’s a fast-moving adventure that celebrates optimism. With all it has going for it, it’s unfortunate that a sometimes pedestrian script grounds this film at times, particularly in its final act.

Tomorrowland begins with the story of Frank Walker (George Clooney), who as a child attended the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. Disney fans will delight with these scenes, which are a fond tribute to the genius of Walt Disney as the basis of well-known theme park rides are presented. At the fair, he meets this mysterious young girl called Athena (Raffey Cassidy) who gifts him with a pin that has the Tomorrowland symbol on it. That pin turns out to be an entry way of sorts to another realm where a beautiful, futuristic city is located.

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Then the film jumps to the present and introduces the other major character Casey Newton (Britt Robertson), a teenage girl living in Cape Canaveral who laments about the demise of NASA and the pessimistic nature of our world. She is baffled that so many people around her, including her father, have given up on their dreams and she’s rebellious as a result. Later, she comes into possession of the same kind of pin that Frank received years ago. Only this time whenever she touches it, Casey is transported to the outskirts of Tomorrowland, the same future city that Frank visited as a youth. Her visit to this whimsical place are some of the most moving and stirring scenes that will delight sci-fi fans. The city is reminiscent of the same futuristic locale featured in the animated film Meet the Robinsons as it features nifty flying vehicles, fantastic robotic workers, gleaming skylines and people zipping through the skies in jet packs. The city is an actualized version of the Tomorrowland section in the Disney parks and it’s a hoot to behold. This is one of the best utopian places ever featured on film.

As joyous as is her visit, it abruptly ends. Determined to go back to Tomorrowland, Casey soon meets Athena, who is still a young girl. The two of them set out to meet Frank, who is now a bitter recluse having been exiled from the future city years ago. Impeding their journey are teams of fake-smiling androids with the same plastic demeanor of a theme-park workers, who pursue them across the country with deadly ray guns. When Casey and Athena finally encounter Frank in Upstate New York, the mystery of Tomorrowland is revealed, as well as the fact that our world is imperiled. It turns out that the only person that can avert disaster is Casey herself and time is against her.

For most of the film’s running time, Tomorrowland is a captivating ride with many unexpected twists and turns just like a theme-park ride. The film is a good example of the journey being more interesting than the destination. That is because once the film actually gets to that city the script starts to come apart with lazy exposition and going overboard with the message Brad Bird and company try to present. That is unfortunate because the message about hope and casting aside cynicism is something that we all need in these times. Tomorrowland champions the themes of innovation, imagination and hope, but it should have been more stirring with its delivery. Talented as Brad Bird is, the lauding of these ideas doesn’t feel natural in its final act when its crucially needed. What doesn’t help is the revelation of the film’s villain, who lacks real teeth and a too-convenient explanation of what is going wrong. It felt very tacked on and robs Tomorrowland of the tension and mystery it was building towards.

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Still, Tomorrowland does a fine job of involving viewers in the story of a youthful optimist and an older cynic. Casey’s journey is engrossing and full of adventure, but what truly resonates is that through her and Athena Frank learns to dream again..and to hope. It’s that message about hope that resonates with Tomorrowland and gives one reason to look forward to the future, and to work for an optimistic vision.

Lewis T. Grove

 

 

 

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Comic – Con 2014 Highlights & Observations

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This year’s Comic-Con didn’t have any big, surprise revelations that brought down the convention halls, like last year’s announcement of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Nonetheless, there were many scintillating news that came out of the convention that made many drool and envious that they weren’t there to witness the announcements…or see the exclusive trailers and footage.

Dawn Of The Justice League

It’s funny how pumped up people are for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and it’s not coming out next year! Warner Bros. and DC Comics may want to reconsider their release schedule of May 2016 and put this film out sooner. While next summer and December are already covered by guaranteed blockbusters, there are plenty of other months where Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will completely dominate the box office like Captain America: The Winter Soldier did this past April.

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What brings out this feeling with us here at Starloggers is that based on the fact that there is footage out about the movie, it seems as if it’s close to being complete. Those shots of Batman on the rainy rooftop decked out in full armor and a visibly angry Superman up in the sky facing him were just electrifying. Apparently, director Zack Snyder took the essence of Frank Miller’s classic The Dark Knight Returns and translated it to screen. As a bonus, the reveal of Gal Gadot in her Wonder Woman outfit was just a perfect bonus; an Amazonian warrior brought to life!

Avengers: Age Of Ultron & The Marvel Cinematic Universe

Unlike Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, there hasn’t been any photos or footage leaked over next summer’s eagerly awaited sequel to The Avengers. The same went for Ant-Man. Reportedly, the crowd predictably went bonkers over the exclusive footage shown for Avengers: Age of Ultron. In the clips shown, the attendees saw Iron Man’s Hulkbuster armor, footage of the heroes fighting Ultron and a haunting image of Captain America’s broken shield.

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What helped whet the appetites for fans around the Internet and at Comic-Con were the beautiful posters showcasing each individual Avenger fighting Ultron and his android army. The full poster that has all of them put together is sure to be a sought-after item.

The news that actor Patrick Wilson dropped out of Ant-Man may have reminded some of the behind-the-scenes production headaches plaguing this film. Still, the production is pushing on with their promotion and hopefully Marvel Studios will have another winner in their hands.

The film studio is so confident about Guardians of the Galaxy, that they announced that the film’s director James Gunn will return to direct the sequel, which has a firm release date in July 2017.

The Absentees

While Marvel Studios confidently showcased their upcoming films, it was noticeable that Twentieth Century Fox didn’t have anything to show for next summer’s Fantastic Four reboot. It’s obvious that the studio and the production team behind the much-maligned reboot is feeling sensitive and protective over the film in response to the negative feedback from many fans. No matter how you look at the situation, it doesn’t bode well for the film. But it may wind up winning over fans in the end.

There were other films being released next year that weren’t represented as well. The biggest one was Star Wars Episode VII, which if something was shown might’ve eclipsed the Marvel and DC presentations. Also MIA was Brad Bird’s highly anticipated and mysterious Tomorrowland . Not seeing anything from Star Wars wasn’t a surprise since the film is still early in production, but it’s a missed opportunity for Tomorrowland because there is a lot of curiosity over the film. But Star Wars fans didn’t walk away empty handed: the full-length trailer for the animated TV series Star Wars Rebels made its debut at Comic-Con and it looks terrific.

Other News

Despite the lack of big, headline-making announcements, there were some that had merit. Take for example the news that Legendary Pictures plans to release a prequel to King Kong that takes place on the mighty ape’s homeland, the dinosaur-packed Skull Island. Then there was the pleasant surprise for fans of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine when it was announced that Alexander Siddig (Doctor Bashir) is joining the cast of Game of Thrones. Also noteworthy were the news that the Batman villain Ra’s al Ghul will be a major nemesis for the next season of Arrow and Bobbi Morse a.k.a. Mockingbird will be part of the returning Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Of the many trailers for movies and TV shows, one that caught everyone’s attention was that of next year’s Mad Max: Fury Road. From looking at the footage, it seems clear that director George Miller has returned to the high-octane roots of the Mad Max franchise. It’s a welcome thought since that futuristic anti-hero has been absent from the screens for too long.

That wraps up what we thought of Comic-Con 2014. We already cannot wait for next year’s convention. BTW, check our Background Noise and Facebook pages for any links (once we find them) to leaked footage or photos themselves of Avengers: Age of Ultron and any other highly anticipated film.