It's sadly appropriate that Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof’s sci-fi fantasy Tomorrowland: A World Beyond – a film that deals in dichotomy (alternate dimensions! Retro- futurism! Grounded fantasy!) - sits squarely on a score of exactly 50 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes, for both critics and audience.
Which somehow narrowly makes the film ‘rotten’ rather than ‘fresh’ - a rather cruel blow to a film that encourages optimism over negativity. Yes, it may be flawed - it’s undoubtedly a little saccharine in places, a lot preachy in others - but Tomorrowland is really just an incredibly earnest movie that promotes an invaluable idea: if we act now, we can build a better future for ourselves.
I know, I know. This is the kind of moral lesson that would usually have our eyes rolling out of our heads. But Bird and Lindelof articulate a very potent message of creativity, hard work and hope, and only the most cynical of viewers – those that feed the bad wolf, if you will – can scoff at that.
It’s undeniably impressive too that Tomorrowland gets this idea across in what is a rollicking adventure, and that the action sequences are as inventive as the ideals it advocates.
From a fight scene surrounded by gleefully recognisable film merchandise, to the sight of George Clooney frantically dispatching androids in his booby- trapped house, there is ingenuity present in every scene. Seriously, this is a movie that should only ever be described as ‘fresh’.
Most importantly, rather than opt for a standard happy or sad ending, Tomorrowland offers its audience a third option: a call to action to choose between the two usual suspects.
If our world is indeed going to shit (as evidenced by pretty much any major news story this year), then we can decide it’s not too late to do something about it. Don’t ask me how – I haven’t got a clue – but damn if that isn’t a rousing message.
An original, fun, spectacular and progressive adventure movie with a moral that we ignore at our peril? Tomorrowland isn’t just criminally underrated, it might just be one of the most important films released in recent years... or is it just me?
Each month Total Film magazine argues a polarising movie opinion and gives you the opportunity to agree/disagree/tell us we’re mad. Let us know what you think about this one in the comments below and read on for more.
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