This One Scene Shows Just How Hypocritical Tomorrowland Really Is

We really don't need a Blast from the Past.

It may not be quite up there with John Carter or The Lone Ranger, but, based on the opening box office receipts, it looks like Disney's big, own-brand 2015 movie is going to be a minor box office bomb. There's naturally going to be a lot of chatter about what went wrong with Tomorrowland in the coming weeks - was the mystery box advertising flawed or is George Clooney not as big a draw as people thought - but the answer is really a simple one; it's just not that great. Brad Bird's latest did receive some praise for its base ideas, but has been widely derided for anything non-visual about its execution. The central issue is a lazy script; there's obnoxiously meta jokes (George Clooney is old, but still looks dashing) and so much clearly signposted foreshadowing that it feels like Damon Lindelof gave up when he realised he had a direct answer to his mysteries (for once). And in amongst all the narrative plodding (it takes ninety minutes to actually get to the titular World Beyond) is one scene whose mistakes pretty succinctly sums up where the film goes wrong. After touching the vision-giving Tomorrowland pin, hero Casey begins trying to crack the mystery of this future theme-park-looking world, which leads her to a comic book store in Texas. What follows is probably the most cynically fan bait-y sequence of the decade. The store is chock full of 'geek' memorabilia, duly trotted out as background Easter eggs in the ensuing confrontation; lazy nerd stereotype Hugo announces his entrance by playing the Star Wars theme; a beeping R2-D2 model is used as a weapon once the owners attack the teenager; a Mr Incredible action figure floats in front of the audience during a lengthy exchange. Now this scene does introduce several key plot elements - Tomorrowland's agents are robots, little girl Athena is a badass fighter, the scope of the world's tech in boundless - but its main purpose is to get film fans, whose positive online buzz is essential to making the unproven property into a hit, geeking out over all those Easter eggs. People love in-jokes, so throwing as many as possible at the screen in one go will make people love the film, right? And that's the problem with the scene in a micro sense - it's so unashamedly manipulative that it misses the art of including references (something the Disney-owned Marvel excel at). The easter eggs are so overt that there's no joy in discovering them on rewatch and so plentiful that there's no actual surprise in learning that, say, a Zurg model was in there. Also notice that, aside from references to The Iron Giant and The Simpsons (projects Bird's worked on in the past), this memorabilia is almost exclusively Star Wars and Pixar, purely because that's what Disney has the rights to. It's a misjudged scene built on studio request and perceived fan connection that thinks resting on love for the past is the way to a brighter future. And that's pretty much exactly what the film is too...
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Film Editor (2014-2016). Loves The Usual Suspects. Hates Transformers 2. Everything else lies somewhere in the middle. Once met the Chuckle Brothers.