Tomorrowland will open your eyes wide

(From IMDb.com)

(From IMDb.com)

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.

Courtesy of Regal Cinemas at the box office.

Courtesy of Regal Cinemas at the box office.

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?

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56 thoughts on “Tomorrowland will open your eyes wide

  1. I visited that World’s Fair too, Mark, with my parents and my best friend Barbara. Maybe we sat or walked near each other unaware, back in that Yesterdayland. Based on your and others’ reactions to “Tomorrowland,” I’m not sure if or when I’ll be visiting that movie. Oh, I think it’s a small and a big world. As always, thanks for asking.

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  2. Your review makes me curious. I’ve never been to a world’s fair. And no, I have no desire to see the far away future. I have every desire to see the next forty years future. With me in it. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. I should be ashamed of myself, but I still have issues with Hugh Laurie with an American accent. He’s an actor. This is what he does. But I first saw him on A Bit of Fry and Laurie on the Beeb many moons ago and fell in love with all the comedic work that he did. As much as I am happy for all his success over here, it just feels odd to watch him pretend to be one of us American types.

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  4. I was there as well, 1964. Catholic school field trip. The Vatican pavilion’s Pieta was, of course, the highlight we were directed to, but I have so many other memories. I still have my trading cards from the event. Love it when things like the Unisphere show up in a movie. I was also surprised to see the GE rotating audience show up in Disneyworld years later. It’s a small world after all, Mark โ˜บ

    p.s. Re the movie…you had me at Hugh Laurie. โค Huge fan crush.

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  5. I was there too, Mark. The Pieta WAS the highlight for me, but I loved the big dinosaurs, and the home-of-tomorrow predictions.

    As for the film…yup. I think this is spoiler-safe: Was particularly bothered by how WHITE the film was (I understand why the first T-land was, but…), and the same tired sexism of the dreamers shown–do you get what I mean? Very poor STEM representation, for instance. Boys get to do, girls get to be artists and ballerinas. (Not that there’s anything wrong with those!) Hghly illogical, given the context in which these dreamers were being shown.

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  6. Great post, Mark! I wasn’t at the fair, I was still in Kansas ๐Ÿ˜€

    My 10yo son saw Tomorrowland with some friends and as I type I’m asking for his review. Here it goes, “It was OK, a little weird, and I was a little puzzled. I walked out of the movie a little confused. I was more action and less…future. The whole thing was just future. There were only a few parts that were real, now. So, It was a good movie but I probably wouldn’t see it again. It wasn’t my type of movie.”

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  7. I love to read Dystopian literature, but I rarely enjoy the films. Odd, huh?
    I feel like Dystopian stuff is easy to believe, which is why I prefer to think we should reach a similarity to utopia first…
    I don’t know that I will watch Tomorrowland.

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  8. Hi Mark! Catching up on blog posts after an eventful holiday.

    We saw the film Friday afternoon, and I really enjoyed it. I thought all of the actors did very well – and I was happily surprised to see my House favorite, Hugh Laurie, in the film. Like you, my husband attended that World’s Fair.

    There were a few questions left at the end of the film for me, but all in all, I found it great fun.

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  9. this sounds disappointing and i most likely won’t end up seeing it. i really don’t have any desire to look into the future, and choose to remain hopeful about it. i’ve never seen a world’s fair or exposition, though i woul have loved to )

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  10. I think we talked back and forth about my postcards and the World’s Fair in 1964. Strange they chose this but there was Tomorrowland there, too. I like the cast and will hope to see this when it comes out on DVD or borrow it from the library. Felicia and I hope to see the remake of “Far from the Madding Crowd,” Mark. I think it looks historical, romantic and memorable. I loved the first version with the actress from “Dr. Zhivago,” Mark. Julie Christy is still beautiful and plays a person with dementia, in a great movie, “Away from Her.” It was made before “Still Alice.” Oh, brother Randy, Felicia, Mom and I watched, “The Judge.” We all cried. Even Randy or especially Randy…

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