The Incredibles and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol director Brad Bird’s newest film, Tomorrowland, follows the adventures of one Casey Newton (played by Britt Robertson): a science-loving teenager who stumbles upon the existence of an idealized version of what Earth’s future could be. That place (which lies “somewhere in time and space”) by no coincidence resembles Walt Disney’s vision of the future, represented by his Tomorrowland Disney theme park attraction.
A newly-released Tomorrowland featurette dives further into the real-life Disney history that inspired Bird’s movie, with various individuals (including co-writer Damon Lindelof) singing the praises of Walt Disney and his ideas about what the future could hold. Downside is, those who have already blasted the film’s marketing for propping up Mr. Disney as one of the greatest minds of the 20th century – this new featurette will just provide them with extra firepower.
That being said, the Tomorrowland mythology – crafted by Bird, Lindelof, and writer Jeff “Doc” Jensen – sounds quite interesting, while the feature appears to offer a fun twist on the hero’s journey narrative. Here, that classic story takes on the form of a mismatched buddy adventure, as Casey ends up joining forces with the disillusioned inventor/tech genius Frank Walker (George Clooney), in order to save the place known as Tomorrowland.
Yes, Walt Disney’s reputation becomes more romanticized as a result of how the movie presents him (and the way the screenplay integrates actual Disney history into the mix), but that appears to simply be a fringe benefit for the Mouse House – and not at all the point of Bird’s film and/or the original concept imagined by Lindelof and Jensen.
Jensen, who’s receiving story credit for his work on Tomorrowland, also wrote a tie-in prequel novel titled “Before Tomorrowland”, further exploring the film’s sci-fi universe. The book (described by Jensen as a “distant prequel to the movie”) is now available for purchase, though Jensen offered the following breakdown of its content during an interview with EW (his old workplace, as it were):
“You will not meet any characters from the movie in this story, but you will get to know in a pretty deep way the organization that’s responsible for Tomorrowland. The city was the grand gesture of this [120-year old secret] organization. It wasn’t the goal of the group from the start, but over time it became the goal: A living laboratory where things are always changing and the best ideas are either given to the world or saved for a time when the world can handle it.”
Awareness/anticipation for Bird’s film appears to be far lower than that for other fast-approaching tentpole releases, be they Disney/Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron or Warner Bros.’ Mad Max: Fury Road. Nonetheless, Tomorrowland still remains a dark horse contender to perform well during this year’s summer movie derby – as it comes off as a movie that’s both a lot of fun and full of worthwhile ideas in its own right.
The Tomorrowland cast also includes Hugh Laurie (House, M.D.), Raffey Cassidy (Snow White and the Huntsman), Judy Greer (Archer), Kathryn Hahn (Parks and Recreation), Keegan-Michael Key (Key and Peele), Pierce Gagnon (Looper), Chris Bauer (True Blood), and Thomas Robinson (The Protector).
Tomorrowland opens in U.S. theaters on May 22nd, 2015.