“'Tomorrowland’ is very much the dream role for me. I’ve always wanted to do a movie like this. Movies like this aren’t made anymore, and it’s so cool that I get to be a part of it. I get to do something new and crazy every day, and my character goes through so many different things. I get to do all of it. It’s awesome.” -Britt Robertson
On July 6th, 1974, The Band opened for Eric Clapton at Rich Stadium in Buffalo, NY. The first photo is of Band member Richard Manuel during the show, and the second is everyone walking to the stage the morning of the show. Photos by Watt Casey Jr.
tomorrowland features women in two of the three leading roles
and instead of making either of them, funko makes figurines of George Clooney, George Clooney’s character as a kid (onscreen for about 40 minutes), and Hugh Laurie (onscreen for about 30 minutes)
not the two girls who save the universe from imminent destruction. not the two girls who are brave enough to take a stand or kind enough to befriend each other or smart enough to survive on their own just fine for the first half and climax of the movie. not the main characters.
WARNING: Please be aware that this post explores major plot
points in Jupiter Ascending, Mad Max: Fury Road and Tomorrowland. Don’t read it
if you don’t want to be spoiled.
2015 has been a very, very interesting year at the movies so far,
and the three movies I’m going to discuss here all explore the same theme:
hope. Jupiter Ascending, Mad Max: Fury Road and Tomorrowland all have hope and
redemption as central themes, though they use and present them in radically
I’ll aim to be as brief as possible when summing up the
films’ approaches. In Jupiter Ascending, everything is highly personal: it’s a
film about families and interpersonal relationships, and how they are affected
and distorted by greater forces. Jupiter (Mila Kunis) starts the film without
hope, but she wants to find it; the dead father she never knew represents hope
and optimism, concepts that are alien to her, and Jupiter attempts to connect
with him by getting a telescope that she can use to see the world as he saw it.
Over the course of her adventures, Jupiter finds courage and strength within
herself. She survives and endures despite great adversity, and her adventures
in space are capped off by her looking down at Earth from space, her eyes shining
with hope and love – she is finally able to see the world as her father did, as
a source of wonder and possibility. The change is personal.
In Mad Max: Fury Road, the world is a scorched and barren
wasteland; the remaining pockets of humanity are ruled by brutal tribes, and
people are treated as commodities. This world is ruled by chaos and brutality,
but Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) wants to find hope and redemption; she
sets about this by rescuing the slave wives of the evil despot Immortan Joe,
transporting them across the desert in pursuit of the idealised ‘green place’ where
she grew up. After learning that the green place has become as much a wasteland
as the rest of the world, Furiosa and her companions make the difficult choice
to turn back to where they know there is water and the possibility of starting
again: Immortan Joe’s Citadel. Overcoming incredible odds, Furiosa and her
travelling companions manage to defeat Immortan Joe and take his stronghold for
themselves, marking an end to the tyranny and cruelty that had reigned there
before. Furiosa brings hope to the people who had suffered under Immortan Joe,
and also achieves hope and redemption for herself. The change is both personal
In Tomorrowland, Casey (Britt Robertson) is a bright and
optimistic teenager frustrated by the endless focus on doom and disaster in our
present society; she is hopeful herself, but wants the rest of the world to
share in her optimism. Over the course of the film she is introduced to the
mysterious Tomorrowland of the title, a place that turns out to be an alternate
dimension populated by the ‘best and brightest’ – inventors, artists and
innovators. Most of the film follows the journey to Tomorrowland as Casey teams
up with child robot Athena and grizzled former boy genius Frank. When they
actually get to Tomorrowland, Casey discovers that Earth’s imminent demise has
been predicted; soon after, however, she realises that the Earth’s fate isn’t
inevitable and can be avoided by destroying the machine predicting the future. It
turns out that the machine itself is generating negative energy and thus
creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by implanting negative thoughts in people’s
minds. After destroying the machine, all is well and Casey and her family move
to Tomorrowland where she and Frank prepare to dispatch robot agents to recruit
new dreamers for their ideal society. The change is societal.
Mad Max probably handles hope in the most powerful and
affecting manner, since it presents a very clear and satisfying triumph over
evil and a thoroughly earned rediscovery of hope for a whole society. Jupiter
Ascending also handles it well, since it has no pretensions and is very clear
that the discovery of hope is Jupiter’s – the film is explicitly her story, and
her discovery of hope is rewarding because she remains good and perseveres in
the face of immense suffering and evil. In short, she earns the hope and
happiness she achieves by the end of the film. While Jupiter’s discovery of
hope isn’t presented as having a wider societal impact, it suggests the possibility
of wider change and transformation in the future.
In contrast, Tomorrowland’s treatment of hope is weak and unconvincing.
It essentially presents hope and optimism as a magic bullet solution to our
societal ills – it’s a good sentiment, but you don’t buy it for a second since
the film practically beats you over the head with it and fails to acknowledge
the actual causes of the evils it claims to have a solution to. It’s also
notable that there isn’t really any character arc for Casey, our nominal lead –
she’s just as bright and optimistic at the end of the film as she is at the
start, and while she’s clever and likeable she’s almost completely static.
While she goes on a physical journey, it doesn’t change her as the respective
journeys of Jupiter and Furiosa change those characters. All in all, it makes for a very frustrating
watch and a very frustrating message. There is a great deal of potential in
Tomorrowland, but the film ultimately feels hollow because of the flakiness of
its ideas and its attempt to present a thoroughly Disney-fied solution to
extremely serious and complex problems. It’s fatally naïve.
I have many thoughts on Tomorrowland and how it compares to
Jupiter Ascending, so keep an eye out for further posts. In the meantime, what
do you make of these films’ presentation of hope? How do they compare as far as