It's that time again, to review some films. This week I begin with the Disney film Tomorrowland written and directed by Brad Bird (director of Mi:4 Ghost Protocol, and animated films such as Pixar's The Incredibles and Fox Animation's The Iron Giant).
The story begins with an older Frank Walker (George Clooney) warning us that the world is coming to an end. He tells his story about how he discovered Tomorrowland, a place where all the world's greatest geniuses went to create a better world for tomorrow -- hence the name Tomorrowland.
Frank's story tells of Professor Nix (Hugh Laurie) and a spunky little girl named Athena (Raffey Cassidy) and how with Athena's help he went through the dimensional portal to Tomorrowland.
His story is interrupted before he can tell us exactly what the problem is and why the world is ending when Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) interjects that his version of the story is too depressing. He says to her that if she thinks she can tell it better she can go ahead -- and that's where we jump into Casey's story and how she came to discover a mysterious pendant (a pin from the 1965 World's Fair in NY) and how this lead her to meet both Athena and Frank Walker.
Once all the characters are united in the present, we find that Frank Walker has been exiled from Tomorrowland, although we don't yet know the reason. But Athena, who is from there, tells him it is vitally imperative they make it back. And they need Casey -- since apparently she is the key to solving whatever doomsday scenario is threatening to be the end of the world as we know it.
Without spoiling anything, since obviously it must occur to fulfill the premise of the plot, they do make it back to Tomorrowland.
What I Liked:
I thought this was an excellent children's film. I took my daughter to it, and halfway through the movie she leans over and says to me, "I want to buy this movie!"
She's only five years old, but she really related to the young female leads. Both actresses Britt Robertson (25) and Raffey Cassidy (12) look really young up on the screen. I placed them around 17 and 14 respectively, since I teach that age group at school, just to give you an idea of how young they genuinely look. My daughter loved the action scenes and the very cool women leads.
George Clooney brings his likable presence to this movie as a father figure but also more along the lines of a big brother, since he argues with both girls like a sibling, which creates for some funny scenes and great dialog.
The girls are intelligent and strong willed and are moral to their cores. It's nice to see young yet strong female role models in a movie like this.
There were some scary scenes with the killer robots (kind of like Terminators) which made my daughter cover her eyes and press her little face into my chest as I held her tight. But she had so much fun with the film that she really didn't seem to mind once it had passed.
What I Didn't Like
The film is 135 minutes long. 2 hours and 15 minutes is just wayyyyyy too long for children -- especially the age demographic this film is targeting. My daughter had to pee twice (due to the fizzy drinks we drank) which causes us to miss a couple minutes of scenes here and there.
And my daughter loves watching movies. So she toughed it out. But I could tell she was getting antsy when by the last twenty minutes or so she leans over and tells me, "Guardians of the Galaxy was better!"
At any rate, I would say this film is a bit of a trial for young kids to sit through.
What Bothered Me:
Okay, so I don't really hate anything about the film itself. But there was something in the story that bothered me.
In the story we are given clues to some back story. Apparently Thomas Edison, Gustave Eiffel, Jules Verne, and Nicola Tesla were integral to the creation of Tomorrowland.
That's fine. I can go with it.
I can also go with the fact that they used quantum mechanics to establish a gateway to an alternate reality of Earth, which is where they build Tomorrowland.
I am fine with them using quantum mechanics or even stumbling upon it accidentally.
But that's not how it is in the story. In the story we are told they cracked quantum mechanics as if it were nothing. That really bothered me. Since these men all lived and died before quantum physics was even a working theory. Simply put, quantum mechanics didn't yet exist. Nobody knew what it was.
So it was really hard for me to buy the fact that they not only discovered it a two decades before it was an idea in the heads of physicists, they also figured it out -- never mind the fact that today's smarted physicists are still trying to unravel its mysteries.
Now this nitpick is coming from an adult who is a physics buff and understands a little bit about the history of physics. But I suppose for a child this background information would only be part of the fantasy element and the fun of the story. I still cringe at teaching children poor history however. Couldn't they simply have said the genius minds assembled, combined their IQ's and accidentally stumbled upon alternate dimensions instead of presenting it as though they were the founders of quantum physics?
Yeah, they could of. Easily. There's no excuse for such lazy writing. As an educator, I resent the fact that they are misinforming children, who will see this movie and subsequently think that Thomas Edison, Gustave Eiffel, Jules Verne, and Nicolas Tesla were the discoverers of quantum mechanics.
Final Two Cents:
So would I recommend this film? My personal gripes aside, the story is fun, exciting, and the action never stops. Like all Disney films it has an excellent musical score and has fun, likable characters. Of the three main characters two of them are young women, and that makes it even more accessible to young children, especially young girls like my daughter.
My final verdict is yes: this is a fun, family friendly film worth taking the family to or renting once it is out on video. Would I buy it though? Probably not. Not unless my daughter puts it on her Christmas list.
Calvin & Hobbes (top) is my all time favorite Sunday funnies / comic. I have the collectors edition of the whole series and still find myself returning to it and reading it on a regular basis.
Peanuts (second top) is another great comic series. I felt much of the humor was hit or miss, but you can't help but love every scene Snoopy is in. He really does steal the show.
Dilbert (below) often never made that much sense to me. My father and brother loved it though. Occasionally, however, there was a strip that made me laugh out loud, and this was one of them. It should come as no surprise that it is about writing.
By day I am an educator and a cultural ambassador. By night I entertain notions of being a literary master. In reality I am just a family man and ordinary guy who works hard and loves writing just about as much as I love my family. Just about.