Never Never Land

The best thing about Tomorrowland is, for those of a certain age, being reminded of the innocent purity of the original Tomorrowland at Disneyland. Monorails and rockets, workers in futuristic clothing, America looking into the future, and not seeing dystopia. The next best thing, is being reminded of how NASA used to be tomorrow today: the best scientists in the world, the best engineers, the best of America, united in a common goal: to reach the Moon. Building and inventing and trying and experimenting and imbued from head to toe with a can do spirit. An immensely exciting example of what a free society, a meritocracy, led by leaders who made no small plans could do...and do in a decade, about the time it takes now to repair a bridge.

Now, NASA is but another politically correct shell devoted to cultural outreach and selling Global Warming. Which is the admirable, but soon lost, plot starter for Tomorrowland.

The next best thing, are the two female leads, young actresses, convincing in their roles, trying their darnedest not to allow George Clooney's Fabian, admonitory hectoring, seemingly channeling Al Gore, to destroy their big Hollywood break.

There are interesting sets, wonderful CGI, fun homages to other movies, but, the movie is leaden, convoluted, and drags on and on. At the end, the banality of its core 'It's A Small World' theme is pounded home with a multicultural Peace Corps-esque fantasy, accompanied by George Clooney's fickle political finger (he evolves with the headlines) poking you in the chest and saying: See! See how you're screwing up!!??? If you'll just let my friends and I, the intellectual elites, rule your lives with coercive laws and regulations all may yet be well...unless it's already too late and Western Civilization has already ruined the planet.

A planet, by the way, that supports more human life, produces more food, allows longer, healthier lives, treats animals better, plants more trees, and, at least in one country, recognizes a pursuit of happiness as a universal right, than ever before in its entire history.

Maybe with not as many snail darters or passenger pigeons, but a planet where it's easy to find a good hamburger, tell time, not fear dentistry, see Game of Thrones on your laptop, and vote for your favorite on Dancing with the Stars.

Tomorrowland the movie, abandons the spirit of the original Tomorrowland the attraction, which leapt Athena-like (there's an Athena in the movie) from Walt Disney's imagination. Instead, with many inexplicable twists and turns, it turns tomorrow into a guilt trip of what we aren't doing today, or, more to the point, what George and his fellow futurists think we should be doing today.

For most of the movie, Clooney is Dr. Brown of Back to the Future fame, complete with wild eyes, and a perfect three-day beard. Which reminded me that beyond perfecting CGI, Hollywood has perfected a technology that ensures neither a two or four day growth on uber hip male actors, but the perfect three-dayer. Well, why am I surprised? If they could make Alan Ladd a tall-ish leading man sixty years ago, three-day beards are child's play.

By the way, George Clooney is an actor I'd like to like, and have liked in the past, but whose politics now intrude on almost all of his projects. It's become sort of like if you've seen one Hugo Chavez movie, you've seen them all.

One other thing: the uneven violence in Tomorrowland would make me hesitate to take a child to see it. People are blown up, very human robots' heads are torn off, favorite characters do die. Think Tarantino by way of Capra. And, not particularly in the service of a coherent script or story, more, as movie lovers have come to realize, we are already living in a dystopian Hollywood world where the new normal is ISIS like brutality on the screen.

At the very, very, end, when a portal opens to show what George wants the world to be, the first image shown is a row of those giant, clean energy, wind turbines...a classic progressive ideal to close the movie...pity about the thousands and thousands of birds killed by them every year. Pity that they turn huge swathes of lovely countryside into sets from War of the Worlds. Too bad, that their incessant humming drives humans living nearby insane. Get with it people...they produce clean energy. Sort of.

In George-topia, it's all acceptable collateral damage. Sometimes you have to destroy a world to save it.