Clooney turns grumpy in new film ‘Tomorrowland’

24 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Tomorrowland’ Premiere And After Party Take Over Disneyland.

If Disney’s new science-fiction film, “Tomorrowland,” has the feel of an action television series—replete with fight sequences, high concept technology and, naturally, robots—that may not be a coincidence.Tomorrowland is a big, bold, confusing folly of a film – designed by Disney as an antidote to the dystopian futureworlds that the box-office has been feeding on in recent years.

Much like the area of Disneyland from which “Tomorrowland” draws its inspiration and title, Brad Bird’s new sci-fi film looks both forward and backward.Amal and George Clooney arrive at the world premiere of “Tomorrowland” at AMC Downtown Disney on Saturday, May 9, 2015, in California. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) George Clooney and Britt Robertson attend the premiere of Tomorrowland: A World Beyond George and Amal Clooney, coming to Ireland for holidays – and a bit of legal work Amal Clooney and George Clooney attend the “China: Through The Looking Glass” Costume Institute Benefit Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art George Clooney has a message he wants to convey loud and clear – he will not be touring Ireland on motorbike with good pal Bono.The Lost showrunner dishes on his new film Tomorrowland, fellow geek god Joss Whedon’s Twitter exit, and how being off Twitter has changed his life for the better. Of the trio that conceived the movie, one was a showrunner for the cult hit drama “Lost,” and the other cut his teeth dissecting the show’s notoriously complex minutiae. It has two young heroines in the Jennifer Lawrence mould and a grumpy George Clooney as Frank, their reluctant ally – an inventor who’s lost faith in the world’s ability to save itself from the assorted perils it’s facing.

On the one hand, it’s a futuristic tale about a bright young teen (Britt Robertson) and a jaded inventor (George Clooney) traveling to a high-tech wonderland to save the world. A cleverly structured screenplay, wondrous visuals and a genuinely charismatic cast all contribute to the fun factor of this sci-fi fable loosely based on Disney theme-park attractions. In the year and a half that Tomorrowland co-writer Damon Lindelof has been off Twitter, he’s been a much happier person for it. “I couldn’t resist knowing what everybody was saying about me and it just ended up making me feel bad,” admits Lindelof, who still endures his share of outrage over Lost even though it’s been half a decade since the head-twisting show sent fans grumbling into their message boards.

Jeff Jensen, co-writer of “Tomorrowland,” rose to prominence writing synopses of “Lost” episodes, and was eventually tapped by the show’s creator, Damon Lindelof, to help bring “Tomorrowland” to life. At the same time, “Tomorrowland” revels in the retro-space-age aesthetic dreamed up by Walt Disney and his Imagineers six decades ago — all rocket engines and ray guns, swooping lines and shiny chrome.

Ignoring the haters is a lesson Lindelof has now poured into Tomorrowland, the sincere-to-a-fault, $190 million sci-fi mystery from Disney based on Walt’s most ambitious vision of a better tomorrow: a futuristic utopia built on the kind of optimism and belief in progress that America could afford to dream of during the Space Age. As “Tomorrowland” hits theaters and Disneyland celebrates its 60th anniversary, here’s a look at five more movies that sprang from the Happiest Place on Earth. Then Disney kicked off the premiere by rolling out the blue carpet for a parade of Disney film and TV stars, circus performers on stilts, dancers with hula hoops, and jugglers. And yet I loved the acting and the directing and the banter and the ultimate message of the film so much that I’m left feeling vaguely positively toward it, even as I realize it essentially told no story. A reclusive inventor (Clooney) is reluctantly whisked away on a cosmic adventure by a rebellious teenager (Robertson) who has chanced upon a T-shaped pin which can transport her to an alternate dimension.

We’ve become hooked on the bad news, translating its apocalyptic nightmares into novels, movies, video games and TV shows and sitting back to wallow in our pessimism. One of the first films ever shot at Disneyland, this 1962 romantic comedy stars Tony Curtis as a slick Lake Tahoe casino manager who finds himself chaperoning his boss’ niece (Suzanne Pleshette) and an abandoned girl (Claire Wilcox) on a trip to the Anaheim theme park — while also dodging private detectives sent by his greedy ex-wife. Fittingly for a movie with this name (one of the original “lands” of Disneyland), it’s a theme park ride — all build and build and build, and then a very quick, ultimately unsatisfying drop. He’s on tour right now, when is he ever going to get the time?” Gorgeous George did confirm his desire to visit later this year with wife of seven months, human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin.

She finds herself the Chosen One when a spunky android in the body of a 12-year-old girl gifts her a pin with the power to glimpse Tomorrowland, an inter-dimensional scientific Shangri-La where the best minds of humankind were recruited to make the future bright. Along the lines of some of the year’s most talked-about films, “Tomorrowland” also makes heavy use of an increasingly popular trope: artificially intelligent (AI) machines—not all of which are malevolent figures hell-bent on destroying the human race.

We meet Frank Walker (George Clooney), a bitter inventor who has squirreled himself away in a remote farm. “When I was a kid, the future was… different,” he says with a misty eye, as we catapult back to the 1964 World’s Fair, when young Frank was bursting with ideas and wide-eyed hope. Finally, the studio shut down Tomorrowland park at Disneyland — for a nighttime after-party that attendees seemed to universally agree set a new standard for after-party events in this town. Here are five things I liked about Tomorrowland enough to mildly recommend it — even as I’ll acknowledge that it’s a complete and utter mess when it comes to telling a coherent tale. The movie lands in theaters at a time when thinking, feeling robots are becoming more commonplace, and playing central roles in movies like “Avengers 2,” “Ex Machina” and “Chappie.” Proving that robots are the new black, all three films have earned more than $1 billion worldwide—with “Age of Ultron” pulling in the vast majority, according to data from Box Office Mojo.

Attempting in vain to sell his jetpack to shady scientist David Nix (Hugh Laurie), young Frank befriends a young girl called Athena, who gifts him with a pin that helps transport him to Tomorrowland. The series’ success was largely powered by Johnny Depp’s off-kilter portrayal of the roguish pirate Jack Sparrow, famously inspired by Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. The center of Tomorrowland is a strange, futuristic city hidden away in some sort of alternate dimension (which was apparently discovered by a team of scientists that included Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison, among others). He now spends his days sealed off from the world, counting down the hours to the apocalypse as a bank of monitors tracks every breaking broadcast catastrophe.

A wide-eyed young prodigy full of enthusiasm about a new invention he’s cobbled together out of vacuum cleaner parts and other bits of hardware, he is on his way to the 1954 World’s Fair in New York to enter his creation in a competition. A decision was made that it was a bit too self-referential for the studio and could come across as too much like self-promotion, so it was dropped from the movie. In this city, the greatest thinkers of their respective eras gathered together to invent the future — and create a community that looks like the cover of an early 1960s sci-fi novel. Nowadays, inundated as we are with a 24-hour news cycle of war, sickness, disaster, famine, drought, Ebola, Kimye, and other assorted harbingers of Armageddon, there’s little room left for optimism.

People are fascinated with what the future holds, yet still can’t decide whether the steady encroachment of technology on everyday life will ultimately prove helpful or harmful. “Science fiction writers are electrified by what machines can do, and concerned about a society that relies heavily on machines are doing to us, and at what cost to our humanity,” said Jensen, a former comic book writer and author. I have such a hankering for these dystopian films, mainly because the future always looks so overblown and fun, and in this respect, Brad Bird does not disappoint. It’s a jetpack which can bump along the ground in speedy bursts while steadfastly refusing to take to the air, and predictably enough, the chief judge (Hugh Laurie at his testiest) fails to be impressed. Putting a comedic spin on the spooky ride, “Haunted Mansion” features Eddie Murphy as a workaholic real-estate agent who drags his family to a palatial but ghost-infested abode.

Clever minds and great inventors would be recruited from our reality to move to Tomorrowland, where they could develop their ideas, freed from interference. Playing a grumpy hasbeen inventor, who visited the titular futuristic paradise as a boy, he’s now hardened and cynical towards the world’s current demise. “I think that the idea that the future is pre-ordained, is pre destined, I don’t believe it,” George explains. “There’s been cycles of really bad times when you think the worlds going to end. “I grew in up and around news. Banks, and it would’ve added a nice extra layer of texture and connection between the film premise and Disney’s personal goals for the park itself (and humanity, for that matter). Jensen told CNBC the movie’s creative team made a conscious decision to avoid a “bad robot” scenario, which he felt is really a window into human insecurities.

Genre specialist Guillermo del Toro is currently developing a new, creepier “Haunted Mansion” film, with his pal and fellow Disney aficionado Ryan Gosling in talks to star. Luckily, it turns out Disney’s direct involvement is included in the prequel book Before Tomorrowland, written by Jeff Jensen and Jonathan Case from a story by Damon Lindelof, Brad Bird, and Jeff Jensen.

She proves to be the catalyst in a narrative which eventually brings together Clooney’s grown-up Frank with Casey (Britt Robertson), another young science nerd, in a convoluted attempt to reshape the world’s future prospects into a more promising form. George Clooney spoke about his own real life work on social issues and political causes, and how he can have faith and hope for the future despite so much suffering and pain he sees around the world. Damon Lindelof, co-creator of the TV series Lost, came up with the inspiration for the screenplay after learning about Disney’s involvement in the 1964 World Fair and a subsequent plan for the company to set up a model city incorporating successive scientific and social innovations. With meticulous attention to 1960s-era costumes, sets and other details, director John Lee Hancock shot much of the movie on the Disney lot and at Disneyland.

He noted, “I didn’t have that great disappointment in mankind,” pointing to the Moon landing and other NASA achievements during his childhood. “Young people don’t start out cynical,” he added, and that’s actually a major theme of — the ways society and culture seem to encourage us to lose hope and embrace fatalism, first in entertainment and everyday narratives in the world around us, and then eventually in our view of the future and even ourselves. Joining forces with Tomorrowland outcast Frank (George Clooney) and a mysterious young girl (Raffey Cassidy), Casey aims to save not just the future of Tomorrowland but the future of Earth itself.

He’s so used to shouldering attacks from his critics for everything from Lost to Prometheus to Star Trek: Into Darkness, he warned Bird before they took on Tomorrowland that The Lindelof Effect could bring more scrutiny than usual. As sharp as Hanks and the scenery look, it’s actually Thompson who steals the movie with her expertly tailored wardrobe and gleefully fierce performance. Clooney suggested overcoming that fatalistic outlook can be tough at times, but it’s really as simple as looking around us at the amazing accomplishments of the past and present, and seeing our own strength to help solve the problems of the world to make it a better place. This week, a top AI researcher hired by Google to develop cognitive machines predicted that computers will soon develop their own form of “common sense” and may even be companions to humans.

Randy Moore, a struggling screenwriter living in Burbank, clandestinely shot this surrealistic black-and-white psychodrama over multiple visits to Disneyland and Disney World. These ideas are, the film argues, poisoning our belief in humanity’s ability to get out of tight corners and thus making it harder to try to fight back against the many ills that could destroy us in the future. Clooney and Laurie, if you can imagine such a thing, play second fiddle to the youngsters: Thomas Robinson, in the role of young Frank, is adorable, while Raffey Cassidy is ethereal and kick-ass when the situation calls for it.

Tomorrowland is clearly meant to inspire the dreamer out there who might be the one to find a cure for cancer or solve global warming, but it also declares that media-induced cynicism is humanity’s real enemy. Despite the potentially thorny legal issues surrounding the film, “Escape” bowed at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013 and was released commercially by Producers Distribution Agency (the same company that released “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” a Banksy documentary partially shot at Disneyland). “Escape” barely made a blip on the box-office radar, and it divided critics as well. Normally, this would completely destroy whatever goodwill the movie had built up, but this theme is so completely out of nowhere and counter to pretty much any other “message movie” being made today that I still have to give it props for originality. Our hope is obviously that the movie can be for anyone… but there are individuals, and I count myself as one of them, who used to be very hopeful and have started to become kind of cynical, have started to calcify. The film is directed and co-written by Brad Bird (Ratatouille, The Incredibles), one of Disney’s major talents, but the wit which usually energises his work has gone missing.

And the film’s last five minutes so beautifully drive this theme home — much more skillfully than the monologue — that it’s hard not to leave with some degree of hopefulness yourself. Wearing stubble and an outfit which is yet to meet a washing machine, Clooney puts in a performance veering dizzily between irascibility and indifference. Shazam has launched an image search feature allowing users to point their phones’ cameras at participating images and not only identify the product (at this point, movies and related merchandising) but also access special content related to the image. The new image search took its maiden voyage during the press event, with a poster serving as the gateway to a feature that lets users view a whole different world around them.

Saying, “You’re holed up in your house just waiting for the end of days, but I’m going to come knock on your door and say, ‘Get out of your house,’ because I know there’s a part of you that once said there was a much brighter future. She’s that incredibly bright teenager all of us knew at one time, the one who had too many questions and kept asking them over and over and over again. We can’t just sit here idly by, we have to activate, it’s going to be hard work, we’re going to have to risk our necks, there are going to be people out there trying to hurt us, but let’s rally around us.” I’m making the movie for them. Everyone was having a ball watching the circus-like entertainment and taking selfies with any star willing to stop for the fans, while live music played from a nearby stage. Do you find it ironic that to write this story about defying the naysayers, you teamed up with a writer who’d thoroughly criticized your work on Lost?

According to Clooney, it’s only just getting started. “I wasn’t looking to get married and then I met someone who I realised I wanted to spend the rest of my life with and hoped that she felt the same way,” Clooney says on the usually taboo topic of his love life. “When I asked her to marry me, we had never even talked about it, so that was one of those moments where she could have said, ‘What are you, crazy? This is only Bird’s second live-action film — the first was Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol — but his long experience in animation (where he worked on several seasons of The Simpsons before directing The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille) has given him a great sense of the most important thing any big-budget director can understand: geography. I thought we were just having fun here!’ After decades of watching Clooney date a string of actresses, models and cocktail waitresses, it’s heartening for those of us he has won over during years of interviewing him that he not only married someone who was his equal but quite possibly out of his league. “I know, right?” he laughs at the suggestion he married up. “There is no question in my mind that my wife is smarter than me and I am thrilled by that. After experiencing such thrilling visuals, it will be hard to tolerate lesser quality presentation, particularly for films featuring rich imagery and visual effects. A major portion of this film is taken up with sequences where Casey zips between our reality and Tomorrowland’s reality, thanks to the use of a seemingly magical pin.

Dressed in a black leather jacket over black pants and shirt on this day at a swank Los Angeles hotel to talk about his blockbuster Disney film Tomorrowland, Clooney looks youthful for his age of 54, with only the grey hair and crow’s feet around his eyes to suggest he is 17 years older than his new wife. The best comparison I can make is that it’s akin to watching a movie on a pre-flat-screen, non-HD set and then viewing the same film on an HD flatscreen. Thus, Bird has to visually depict her thought process as she works out this particular conundrum, and he makes every single step she takes in the project completely logical. Clooney admits he was reluctant to even meet the filmmakers because of the size of the project. “Listen, I did a summer project called Batman and Robin and I learned my lesson and they asked me not to do any more,” he jokes about his disastrous 1997 foray into comic-book movies. “But the reason I thought I could do this was it’s a really good story and I loved that it said something important: that yes, the future could look bleak but it’s incumbent upon you to actually act and make a difference.” Clooney puts his money and mouth where his heart is, working on a long list of causes he’s passionate about, from helping to save Darfur and Sudan refugees, to organising telethons for victims of 9/11 and the Haiti earthquake, as well as campaigning to support same-sex marriage. Combined with Dolby Atmos — which creates what I’ve termed 3D for your ears — the screening goes a long way toward demonstrating the power of Dolby Cinema to create as immersive and as high-quality a cinematic experience as is available anywhere today.

But by and large, this is a great reminder of how Bird is able to keep viewers situated within the geography of his set pieces — even when there are multiple dimensions in play. He toiled in obscurity for over a decade with 15 unsold TV pilots before he hit the jackpot in 1994 with his iconic role as Dr Doug Ross on the hit medical drama E.R.

You can assess the relative value of something without saying, you know, “Reese Witherspoon should never ever be in a comedy again.” It’s like, “Fuck you!” I want to see Reese Witherspoon in a comedy! He later focused on stretching as an actor and became the only person in Oscar history to be nominated for an Academy Award in four fields: actor (Syriana, 2005, which he won; Michael Clayton, 2007; Up in the Air, 2009; and The Descendants, 2011); writer (2006 screenplay for Good Night, and Good Luck; 2012 Adapted Screenplay for The Ides of March); director (Good Night, and Good Luck, 2005); and producer (2012 Best Picture Oscar winner for Argo). It has everything you’d expect — a high concept, kinda chintzy special effects (that the film nonetheless tries to pass off as part of its story), an ad hoc family formed in the heat of battle, a villain meant to signify a philosophical concept (and not really working as such), and a kid missing one of her parents at the center. Check out the gallery below, featuring images from the press day, the premiere, and the after party… Space Mountain seemed to be a favorite of many of Tomorrowland’s cast members. At one point a group of them boarded the ride together, and later I saw George Clooney taking a turn — he may have gone for more than one spin on it, in fact.

The sky overhead lit up with fireworks repeatedly through the evening, and music from the terrific live band at the Tomorrowland Terrace Stage performed a mix of modern and classic hit songs (watching the band emerge on a stage rising up from beneath the ground was quite a sight, let me tell you). In case you hadn’t heard already, opened this four-day Memorial weekend to an estimated $45 million at the domestic box office, a solid performance that will surely be exceeded by the film’s overseas receipts.

As someone who sticks your neck out in your projects that already tease these big mysterious payoffs, do you think you got more flak because you involved yourself in the social conversation and made yourself more of a target? So if I say I screwed up, or I’m a fucking idiot, or I could’ve done better that time—if I’m taking shots at myself, I’m inviting people to go, “If Lindelof is doing it to himself, that invites me to do it to him.” And also, I put way too much thought into crafting clever tweets.

It feels powerful when you say something that a lot of people respond to, and it is a little bit of a light side/dark side thing where the dark side is just much more, “Oh my god, you’re starting a feud with someone!” I’m not on Twitter any more, but I’m still in the pop culture sphere. Joss Whedon also recently, publicly, quit Twitter after enduring a ton of snark and hate over Avengers 2, and after making tweets critical of other films that he then apologized publicly for.

How do you not look at that character and say, “Come on.” It’s a very slippery slope in terms of making it feel like it’s real and admirable as opposed to naïve. Understanding obviously that Brad [Bird] has a tremendous amount of goodwill, I said to him, “Look, I desperately want you to make this movie because collaborating with you would be a dream come true. It’s sort of the equivalent of saying, “Damon, you always fall for really tough, blond Catholic girls, and every time you go out with one it just ends poorly.” It’s like, yup!

I know that I can go write a TV show that’s just a good, old-fashioned procedural where every episode there’s a little mystery and they solve it, and that’s that. Whether we accomplished that or not is in the eye of the beholder, but I’m proud of it, and I don’t think I could have gotten Bird and George involved if it didn’t have some substance to it.

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