I caught the movie Tomorrowland at a matinee on Saturday. If you haven’t seen it yet, or if you don’t want spoilers, then don’t go below the break, but let me say that it was not the film I was expecting.
Nor was it the Politically Correct Social Justice Warrior Global Warming propaganda piece some are claiming.
You’ve probably seen the trailers. Young girl touches medallion, gets transported (in spirit if not in body) to Tomorrowland where everything is clean, beautiful, high-tech, awesome. She meets a curmudgeon who can somehow get her there, but they’re being pursued by Evil Forces.
All that’s there.
What I didn’t expect, however, was the morality tale it DID contain.
Now, perhaps I don’t read the right kind of science fiction, but one thing the movie asks that I haven’t seen asked before is “Where’s the hope?”
(SPOILER!) George Clooney’s character asks the question, “What would you do if I could tell you exactly the date and time you were going to die?” (Paraphrased from memory, but that is the gist of the question.) Seems he’s invented a machine that allows him to see into the future – and the future is grim. Grim with a probability of 100.00 percent. Past this date there be dragons. (Figuratively, not literally.)
But when the young girl responds, “How could you know? What about free will?” the probability indicator drops to 99.94%.
I was reminded of this scene from 2011’s The Adjustment Bureau:
In this film the equivalent role of “Thompson” is played by Hugh Laurie as “Governor Dix.”
I was also reminded of last year’s “The Giver.” Here’s the key scene from that film:
It seems over in Tomorrowland they built a machine to broadcast subconscious warnings to us here on Earth of the coming apocalypse.
We internalized the message. We embraced it. Hell, we commercialized it. Disaster movies, zombies movies and TV shows, post-apocalyptic fiction. (Have you ever read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road?) Terrorism and jihad. War and famine. On and on.
Earlier in the film the protagonist is shown in her various high school classes being lectured on: Global Warming, the population bomb, Mutual Assured Destruction and the new threat of nuclear terrorism, etc. Throughout it all, she has her hand up, but is only called on in the last scene. “Who’s trying to fix it?” she asks.
There is no answer.
For at least the first 150 years of this nation (1860-65 notwithstanding) the overwhelming national outlook was optimistic. We could go anywhere, do anything. Hell, in 1962 John F. Kennedy challenged us to send a man to the Moon and return him safely to the earth before 1970 – and we did. We went from a colonial backwater to the most powerful nation on Earth in the relative blink of an eye because, I believe, of one idea: “the pursuit of happiness.”
And in the meantime those who believe “we choose wrong – always” have done everything in their power to choose for us, to remove our ability to choose for ourselves. The message of “The Adjustment Bureau” was that if not for “The Chairman” and the Bureau, humanity would have destroyed the Earth. We needed to be brought along into adulthood by some Higher Power. The idea behind “The Giver” was that we had pretty much destroyed ourselves, and only through the administration of The Elders had this small enclave of civilization survived by essentially removing emotion, choice, hell even thought.
Tomorrowland asks, I think, “When did we stop hoping?“ And why don’t we do something about that?
It’s a good question, and it shouldn’t get lost in hysterics over political correctness.
UPDATE: Bill Whittle, however, makes some good points.