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Tomorrowland

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I just watched the movie Tomorrowland, and I'm surprised I haven't seen more people posting about it.

It's the story of (among other people) a teen girl named Casey who's really good with machines. She's an optimist; she spends the first part of the movie using her tech skills to try to prevent NASA from demolishing a launch pad. And although the movie is a little incoherent in some ways, I liked it and thought it was worth seeing.

On the one hand, there are some implausible bits, some plot holes, a politically unfortunate moment or two, and a reasonably predictable plot with some goofy bits.

But on the other hand, it's chock full of sense of wonder and optimism, and it made me happy. And the two female leads (Britt Robertson and Raffey Cassidy) are both awesome, in different ways.

There are a couple of Bechdel-test passes, although the movie overall is a little more guy-focused than it needs to be. Most of the people of color are in nonspeaking background parts, though it's great to see Keegan-Michael Key of Key and Peele in a small but prominent speaking part.

But I would say it's worth watching. I kind of wish I had seen it at age 12 or so; I suspect I would have loved it.

Both of the trailers I saw were, imo, pretty misleading; they cover a couple of key incidents in the movie, but they left me with an inaccurate impression of what the movie was about and where things were headed. I like what they actually did better than what I thought they were doing. The first trailer made me think it was about a teen rebel girl who finds a portal to an amazing place; the second one made me think it was a George Clooney action-adventure that also has a teen girl in it; neither one gave a clear impression of how awesome Casey is, nor of the movie's main theme.

The movie was written by Damon “Lost” Lindelof and Brad “Incredibles” Bird; directed by Bird. Reviews have been mixed, but largely negative. Box-office performance has been weak; Disney is losing a lot of money on this one. The press has been suggesting that part of the problem is that these days original movies (not based on something else) are a hard sell for audiences. I imagine that's true, but I hadn't been thinking of it as an original movie; given the title, one could be forgiven for assuming the movie is essentially an ad for Disneyland. Which it isn't, except in a very indirect sense.

I obviously can't wholeheartedly recommend it; it definitely has flaws. But I do tentatively recommend it, as long as you can set cynicism aside for the duration.

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Original movies are a very tough sell, especially when you market them with as little faith as Disney did with Tomorrowland-- what a mess of advertising! No! No! We don't want you to be aware that their is a woman in a lead role. I've gotten so sick of Disney, I almost expected a boy to be on the motorcycle; a convenient love interest for Casey. I think that's the same reason it is more 'guy-focused' than it should be, because it is probably what the producers assumed was necessary to sell it. Based on my run ins with friends over the Age of Ultron, they might be right. Sadly, I think the other reason it isn't doing very well is that it doesn't have a boy-hero (I was so disappointed in Kingsmen. But it did insanely well, primarily because of the young, stupid lead). Young men have been taught for a long time to turn up their noses at 'girl stuff'. But I loved it! I liked that it was a risk, and a big one. No young boy-hero! A plot with meaning (oh no! Hollywood should never-ever! Sell ideas!), and embracing the idea of the 60s that technology and innovation should be exciting and hopeful. I think the fear and destruction of nuclear weapons took some of the fun out of things, and possibly even gave fuel to the distrust of scientists that seems so active right now.
But it is flawed. And the big flaw is that it wanted to do too much. It got bogged down in too many ideas and sort of let the story drag. It also should have gone with more Jules Verne science is magic, and less with tachyons. If people can go see Mad Max, which explain nothing. I believe Tomorrowland could have just left out any science-y explanation. We are use to our tech working without quite knowing exactly how it does it.
For a Disney offering it almost makes up for Frozen. I'm so frustrated it's doing badly. I will have to put up with a Frozen sequel, but I doubt I will have more Tomorrowland to look forward to, which is really a shame. It has so much potential


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