Anytime you watch a Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) or Damon Lindelof (Lost, The Leftovers) vehicle, you know that you’re in for a wild ride of the imagination. Given that they were handed the keys by Walt Disney Pictures for Tomorrowland, the comparisons to visual, family-inspiring flicks like Escape to Witch Mountain are representative of the genre. Examining the struggles we currently face – loss of loved ones, pollution, overpopulation, etc., the film takes a shot at two views of what the solutions might look like.
Representing the power of hope (and youth), Casey Newton (Britt Robertson, Dan in Real Life, Under the Dome) chases down one-time inventioneer Frank Walker (George Clooney) and demands he help her find a way to the future. On the other side of the equation, David Nix (Hugh Laurie) sends his electronic minions back from the future to change the past, believing that society is too limited in intellect and resources to ever right itself without obliteration. Newton and Walker are joined by Athena (Raffey Cassidy), a droid working for the side of the (positive) futurists, and the trio strikes out to save the world.
This is fine, fine science fiction. Yes, there’s an inspirational aspect, as Newton is a dreamer who has been seeking purpose and meaning in her life, and finds it in the pin that Athena “recruits” her with. It unlocks a world of belief, meaning, and possibilities that she could’ve only imagined prior, based on the world of Disney’s EPCOT (“Tomorrowland”). Still, it also has a theological aspect that I find more and more necessary in today’s world by discussing our future and the role we have to play within it.
Given that the East Coast has just been rocked by storms and flooding, the topic of floods has been bantered about. When the waters rise, pastors seem to dust off their sermons about Noah’s Ark – recounting the story of that righteous man (not Russell Crowe) from Genesis 5-10. Unfortunately, several of those pastors seem to forget that a) God said he’d never destroy the world by flood (Genesis 9:11) and b) God set a rainbow in the sky to bring hope of that covenant to the people on Earth (Genesis 9:13). We’ve somehow allowed recent developments to color the picture of what the future looks like, and not in a good way.
We’ve allowed the narrative to be written in terms of desolation and trouble, rather than hope and redemption. We’ve allowed things to be steered away from an ark of salvation to a lifeboat of temporarily surviving. Sometimes, we need people to remind us of the promises that God has said in the past: we need our hope to be renewed.
When I first saw the film, I wrote that Newton renews Walker’s hope, reminding him of all the things he dreamed could be, all the things he thought possible, and all the good that he once wanted to do. It’s the opposite of Laurie’s twisted humanitarian who figures that he’s “in,” so it doesn’t matter who is out. When we’re focused on hope, we can’t be stopped, we’re focused on the good– we can’t be crushed (Romans 5:5). It’s hope, in the power of God’s renewing power to transform the world, that drives us forward to care for the poor, to heal the broken, and liberate the captive. To dream in a world (not like Figment but like Martin Luther King, Jr.) that is better, healthier, happier, and where all have enough.
That’s the world of Walker and Newton.
May that world be like the kingdom of God.
May that world be tomorrow.
Special features on the Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD copy include severe bonus features, including a look at the story from Brad Bird’s perspective about the importance of the film in today’s culture called “Remembering the Future.” Other sides include an animated short that tells the origin of the shadowy organization, Plus Ultra, as well as the casting and music of the film. Overall, it’s an excellent package of extras for fans of the film!