Welcome to “Trailer Tuesday” where I talk about trailers for upcoming movies.
I’ve been looking forward to Tomorrowland for well over a year. Ever since director Brad Bird tweeted a picture of a mysterious box from the Disney Archives in January of last year, I’ve been mildly obsessed with the film (for reasons I’ll get to after talking about the trailer). Out of seemingly nowhere today, we finally got our first look at footage from the film (due out May 22, 2015) in a quick teaser trailer. I got more than a little emotional watching it, but that may just have been from personal reasons. Take a look at the trailer below, and read on for a breakdown of it and my thoughts:
The trailer opens with a shot of teenager Casey Newton (played by Britt Robertson), who looks as if the world has beaten her down.
She approaches a window where a police officer opens an envelope and proceeds to go through its contents with her.
She’s claiming her belongings, as one would do after being arrested, so we have to wonder what happened to land her in this situation. As she glances at the TV screen in the corner, the news report might give us a clue.
It seems that whatever time period in which this is set is seeing some riots and looting. We don’t know what they’re rioting about (though any number of current events and situations come to mind), but perhaps she was arrested at some kind of demonstration gone wrong.
As the police officer lays out her belongings (which include a NASA hat), he mentions a pin.
“That’s not mine,” she says as she gathers up her things. “What’s not yours?” the officer asks, walking away. “The pin,” she says, somewhat indignantly, and reaches to pick it up.
The instant she touches it, she is flashed to another place entirely, into the middle of a wheat field surrounded by mountains. She drops the pin almost as soon as she’s picked it up and returns to the police station.
She’s shocked at first, but somehow intrigued, and reaches for the pin once again. As she does, a voice asks, “What if there was a place, a secret place, where nothing was impossible?”
She touches the pin for just an instant, flashing once again to the field. “No way,” she says in amazement, and more confidently she reaches to pick up the pin.
For the third time she finds herself in the field, but this time she holds on to the pin. She stands up and takes a look around, clearly not in Florida anymore. As she does, the voice continues: “A miraculous place, where you could actually change the world.”
But as she turns to look the other way, she spots something that looks completely out of place.
We get our first look at the titular Tomorrowland, looking like a white, shining version of the Emerald City in the distance.
We then see the source of the voice, Frank Walker (George Clooney), sitting in a room filled with screens, many showing various disasters or conflicts, including tornadoes and fires, but also showing some interesting numbers and countdowns.
“Do you want to go?” he asks, presumably directing his question at Casey. The teaser then cuts to the Tomorrowland logo, with its atomic symbol in the center:
The logo then fades into a closeup image of the pin, which has the same logo upon it:
Then, surprisingly, we get one more quick shot.
It gives a look inside Tomorrowland, to which Casey has journeyed. She’s leaning over a railing, looking at an expansive city landscape unlike anything we’ve seen before. It has flowing lines, and a futuristic shine, but it also has a river running through it and large hoop-like structures covered in greenery, that look like they almost grew out of the ground. There are skyscraper-style buildings, and what looks like a monorail line running parallel to the river, and I think I can make out some people walking on an elevated bridge off to the right.
The image doesn’t last long, as someone flies with a jetpack of some sort from below, where she’s looking, over her head as the camera follows. The teaser trailer then ends with the film’s release date.
As I said, I’ve been looking forward to this film for a long time now, back when it was initially known as 1952 (named after the label on the Disney Archives box that supposedly inspired the film). For starters, it’s directed by Brad Bird who, in addition to writing and directing two of Pixar’s very best films (Ratatouille and The Incredibles), also wrote and directed The Iron Giant, wrote *batteries not included, and directed the most exciting film in the Mission: Impossible series (Ghost Protocol). Tomorrowland was written by Bird, along with Jeff “Doc” Jensen and Damon Lindelof (who has had his problems, but was also one of the people in charge of Lost, which I loved). Add in the intriguing cast, which includes Hugh Laurie, Tim McGraw, Judy Greer, Kathryn Hahn and Keegan-Michael Key, in addition to Clooney and Robertson, and you’ve got some seriously solid talent involved in the film.
But it takes more than that to pique my interest, and what really connected me to the film was its Alternate Reality Game (sort of a scavenger hunt set in the real world with a separate but related story) from last year, “The Optimist”. In the “game,” we learned of a secret society known as the Optimists, originally founded in 1889 by Thomas Edison, Gustave Eiffel, Jules Verne and Nikola Tesla, and continued by Walt Disney, particularly through his involvement with the 1964 World’s Fair. We learned of his secret plans for a future free from corporate interests, sort of an idealized version of his initial plans for EPCOT. The secrets were revealed through the plans for the “it’s a small world” ride, an alternate audio take for the Carousel of Progress, and other means. In the end, followers of the game were actually able to have an experience at Disneyland where they actually got to go behind the scenes to uncover the truth about the Optimists and to be inducted into the society, receiving pins matching the one seen in the trailer.
All of that is great fun on its own (I wish I could have gone to Disneyland for it), but there’s still more to my emotional connection with this film. I’ve made no secret of being a huge Disney fan, but what’s always spoken to me the most is what I call the “Disney Ideology,” a mindset that sets the company and its endeavors apart from the rest, and all of which started with Walt Disney himself. “The Optimist” was the perfect name for the ARG to go with Tomorrowland, as it sums up much of this ideology perfectly. Despite criticisms to the contrary, Disney has never painted an unrealistic view of the world, manipulating children into believing in happy endings, but instead has taken the world as it is and shown us that there are things to hope and strive towards.
This ties into the themes of Tomorrowland, such as we know them. We’ve been told that Clooney’s character, Walker, was an inventor who worked on a dream project relating to Tomorrowland before things fell apart and he became jaded and cynical (we actually know more than this, but I’m trying to avoid larger spoilers here). But Casey Newton, an idealistic teenager, comes along and shows him another way. I don’t expect Tomorrowland to be a sci-fi version of Saving Mr. Banks, as it should definitely be more subtle in plugging Walt’s ideals, but the connection with the man and the ideology is still there. They filmed scenes for the movie at the Carousel of Progress and at “it’s a small world,” in addition to a recreation of the 1964 World’s Fair.
I have a lot of theories about the film, including alternate timelines/dimensions, but I’m trying to keep myself from theorizing as much as possible (and trying to avoid spoilers). But perhaps the easiest way to explain my obsession with the film is this. Have you ever felt like a film was made specifically for you? I think everyone probably has a handful of movies that when you watched them seemed to be plugged straight into your soul, and which have a special place inside you. (For me, the list includes Hook, Super 8, and Twister, among others.) Tomorrowland seems destined to fit me like a glove. I can’t wait to see more about it, but even more I wish I could just see the film now. Everything I’ve learned about it thus far has spoken to me in a way that most films could never hope to achieve. I could be alone in this, but Tomorrowland is definitely my most anticipated film on the horizon.
What do you think? Does Tomorrowland look intriguing? Am I the only one freaking out over this? Did you follow “The Optimist”? What do you think of the film’s cast? What about the talent behind the screen (which includes composer Michael Giacchino)? What’s the last film you saw that felt like it was made just for you? What’s your most anticipated film on the horizon? And where can I find one of those Tomorrowland pins? Let me know in the comments!