The Lenses of Optimism: About “Tomorrowland”

Storytelling isn’t just devoted to the limitations of words found in a book; it also extends out to television and movies too.  These past few months, I’ve been opening up my blog more to periodically exploring storytelling in these other mediums.  Officially, the last post devoted under this topic was my write-up I did on “Doctor Who,” in honor of its 10th anniversary since returning to television.  Unofficially, I devoted part of a blog post I did earlier this month to such subject matter when I discussed exploring my heritage through storytelling.  Now I present to you my first post devoted to a movie; that movie being the recently released film to come out of Walt Disney Studios, “Tomorrowland.”

Having released just yesterday to theaters nationwide, “Tomorrowland” is a sci-fi film that explores the power of optimism and way of thinking.  Originally starting in 1964, a young boy by the name of Frank Walker, an aspiring inventor, is recruited by a mysterious young girl for a place called Tomorrowland; a place in time and space where their actions directly affect the future outcome of the world.  Unfortunately in the midst of his time there, Frank has a fallout and is banished from Tomorrowland and it takes several decades to pass and a new recruit, a teenager named Casey Newton, to pop into his life and assist him in setting things right before the world suffers from impending doom.

It’s no coincidence that the name of the film is the same name as the futuristic park at Disneyland.  The film was derived from Walt Disney’s optimistic vision for a future utopia where technology and innovation could improve the world and the lives living in it.  It’s the one place in the universe where inventors, creators, artists, and the likes can go and do what they do best, minus politics and other restrictions.  In other words, if Walt Disney were a movie and not a human, this would be it.

That theme alone was immediate when I first saw a TV spot for it.  It looked really cool and I knew that this was something I had to see.  I was therefore fortunate enough to attend an advance screening for the film three days ahead of its release.

Unfortunately and understandably, “Tomorrowland” has gotten a number of mixed reviews since its release.  It’s been given a 49% on Rotten Tomatoes, being described as a movie that’s trying to be several movies at once and its plot is not as straight forward as it otherwise could be.  But that’s not to say that the movie fell flat on its face; for it left you feeling something powerful: hope.

“Tomorrowland” is about optimism; a mindset that seems to deteriorate away with age (as demonstrated by the character of Frank).  It’s with that vanished mindset, tarnished by the side effects of reality, that gives into what the character of Casey calls “feeding the wrong wolf;” that wolf being the one leading down a path of what looks like doomsday in the flesh.  It’s a film that shows how our thoughts and point of views affect our actions, and how our actions give in to the outcome of the future.  It’s with that that it’s therefore highly encouraged to go for feeding the “right wolf;” the wolf that sheds light on what is possible, but in a more positive realm.

Thematically, this movie came at an appropriate time as far as where we are in a society.  Oftentimes, we are giving in to feeding the wrong wolf, by the looks of the news and what not.  To take action and actually do something about it and strive to make a change for the better is what the movie’s agenda reveals; and if that doesn’t appeal to the adults who walked away from the movie, more thrown off by the movie’s uneven pacing than message, then perhaps it will appeal to the many kids I saw in the audience Tuesday night as they take on the future themselves.

The story that “Tomorrowland” delivers kind of reminds me of the “think different” ad slogan Apple used to run, where it gave praise to the crazy ones, misfits and rebels who change the world in their own ways.  It praises the creators of our world and the ones who have yet to come into fruition.  It’s about keeping hope in your heart, despite the negativity in the world, and how one can always make change for the better.  If anything, “Tomorrowland” is worth seeing to at least see a message like that expressed in a storyline on the big screen.


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