Tomorrowland brings us to Yesterdayville.
Writers Damon Lindelof and Brad Bird and director Bird select the Worlds Fair, Flushing, N.Y., 1964, to focus the attention on young inventor Frank Walker and his kindred guide Athena.
I was there! The thought stirred me in the surprisingly well-attended first matinee Friday in a Regal Cinemas theater in Syracuse’s mega shopping, dining and entertainment complex Destiny USA. The exhibits, the big globe, It’s a Small World ride, memories of Disney magic and what it was like to be a born-in-1957 kid with the wonders of a wide world in front of me.
Sort of like little Frank and Athena, played with wide-eyed zeal by Thomas Robinson and sloe-eyed maturity by Raffey Cassidy, rebelling against the killjoy old guy portrayed by the taciturn Hugh Laurie.
As Frank followed Athena’s instructions and surreptitiously follows a tour group to places unfathomable, I so dearly wanted to love this movie.
For the most part, yes, I did.
Jet packs propelling Frank gave way to otherworldly effects spectacular and breath-taking. Robots looked like really sophisticated machinery, and robots looked like people.
And some people wanted to get to the future so bad, and some people were sent back to the present and banned from ever going back.
There was good against evil, and it was easy to choose sides.
George Clooney as the grown up Frank and Britt Robertson as the inquisitive teen Casey Newton carried their parts in the magic quite well, too, with a natural chemistry filled with appropriate bumps, bruises and healing. Newton’s character left a NASA engineer dad played dryly by Tim McGraw in the dust, and the curmudeonly Frank warms to the teen and the task.
But somewhere along the way in these 130 minutes of fantasy, the story goes bitterly sour.
Maybe it’s because they blurred the lines between good and evil.
And maybe it’s because what’s coming out of the mouths of these people and robots is too distressingly close to home as they make points and counterpoints about fictional dystopias and real calamities.
Ugh. Too bad. The recovery is quite nice but still …
It was far less glorious than it could have been and what I thought it should have been after the initial set-up and big-time flourishes. Very good, yes. Greatness is still floating out there somewhere.
Would you like to travel to the future to see what fate awaits mankind? Do you have memories of a World’s Fair or Exposition to share? Is it a small world or big world, after all?