‘Tomorrowland’ and 5 more Disneyland movies to mark the park’s 60th

23 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Tomorrowland’ and 5 more Disneyland movies to mark the park’s 60th.

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. 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.

On the Spoiler Special podcast, Slate critics discuss movies, the occasional TV show, and, once in a blue moon, another podcast, in full, spoiler-filled detail. 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. 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. In this episode, Slate’s movie critic, Dana Stevens, and Slate senior editor Forrest Wickman discuss Tomorrowland, writer-director Brad Bird’s new Disney sci-fi adventure film about the future starring George Clooney.

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. 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. 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.

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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

They can feed creative impulses as well, they say. “Films and TV generally inspire [movie watchers’] curiosity to dig deeper, and even choose careers that are derived from inspiration they’ve got from these movies,” said Bert Ulrich, multimedia liaison for film and TV collaborations for NASA. 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. 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. It’s so easy to tell somebody who is a dreamer, “Come on, really?” And when you see their face when you do that to them, there’s no worse feeling in the world than understanding that you’ve just unintentionally crushed someone’s dream. 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. 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? 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.

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. 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.

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. 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!

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. 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. Tomorrowland similarly tells the children of the future to ignore those voices trying to stamp out any sense of optimism that we’ve collectively given in these self-fulfilling prophecies. 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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