Saturday, 6 June 2015

designed to find dreamers: Tomorrowland at the IMAX


I enjoy visiting Disney's parks. There's a sense of optimism that starts from the first moment. Some of it uses uplifting and familiar tunes, other parts are just the way the parks bustle joyfully, encouraging interactions with their happy inhabitants.

So I was intrigued to see Tomorrowland recently. It seemed like a reason to go to the BFI IMAX, on the roundabout by Waterloo.

And after a curious face-to-camera start with George Clooney, we soon dropped into the middle of the World Fair in 1960's New York.

I say that, but it was like wandering around in Disneyworld's Tomorrowland, parts of Epcot and the Magic Kingdom. The right backdrops, the right tunes. The Carousel of Progress playing "It's a great big beautiful tomorrow" and a trip in a water craft accompanied with "It's a small world after all".

I've noticed that Disney plays around with its opening logo credits and the version for this movie didn't have Cinderella's castle at all. Instead there was a series of other tall and often spiked buildings.

And kerpow, we were soon in and amongst them in a swirling and revolving multi dimensional world. We might have needed a vacuum-cleaner powered jet-pack to get there, but it all made sense in this story of an optimist and a pessimist.

Can we change the probability of outcomes? That is the question. Why revel in dystopian future outlooks, when a change of spirit could lead to a more attractive self-fulfilling prophesy?

We all know that old mantra 'every day in every way I am getting better and better...', so why make 'Death Planet IV: the revenge of Undead', and such similar narratives?

I don't generally watch the Marvel Comic type movies which rely upon goody vs baddy both vested with general purpose extensible super-powers. Tomorrowland has some of that going on, with a classic overlord portrayed by Hugh Laurie touting his British accent, idioms and sticky-up collars on his uniform.

There's plenty of gadgets, starting with the homely inventions of the 1960s and moving towards probability gauges that would go well in Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy. Actually at one point a robot in a store is wearing a tee-shirt with a partially concealed "Don't Panic" motif.

There's a predictability about the main good versus evil theme playing out and proper female role for Britt Robertson, playing Casey Newton. There's an added sparkle of the robot girl Athena (played by Raffey Cassidy), who acted as a sort of recruiter for optimists.

Being a Disney movie, there's a worked out tidy conclusion, which also provides some circle of life type moments. There wasn't really any political engagement with the projected futures, nor any real 'get out of Dodge' solutions towards 'save the world'. Probably way too much to expect from this kind of story telling, which has more of a 'like to teach the world to sing' kind of ending.

My slight niggle was that the end didn't some how return to the theme park, although we can spot little elements of it (like Space Mountain on the left here) in the future.

So, sing along with the Carousel of Progress, or watch the teaser below:

So there's a great big beautiful tomorrow
Shining at the end of every day
There's a great big beautiful tomorrow
Just a dream away

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