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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.


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Monday, May 25, 2015

entry arrow12:12 AM | Think Negative Thoughts



It is hard for me to engage in an unfavourable evaluation of Brad Bird's Tomorrowland (2015), knowing how much I love the filmography of the director. Here is a film so earnest in its message, so eager in the presentation of its set pieces, that to find ourselves walking out of the theatre thinking of it as something of a forgettable experience is to finally acknowledge that the film is ... a mess. It is, at best, a noble failure.

I wasn't put off by its exuberant didacticism. Bird's earlier films (the animated ones, especially) had didactic streaks, too: The Iron Giant is about tolerance and being anti-military; The Incredibles is about owning up to what makes you special; and Ratatouille is about being truthful to one's art and vocation, no matter how the world perceives you. His latest film is actually a distillation of all these messages, which in those films made us pause in contemplation and then invariably cry. But in Tomorrowland, they have the quality of emotional Teflon, no matter the extra measure of exuberance.

I suspect it's a matter of structure: the script by Damon Lindelof is torturous and unengaging, proving to us once more that post-Lost, Mr. Lindelof is a hack equipped with big ideas he cannot really handle, as also seen in the equal failure of his work on Ridley Scott's Prometheus (2012). Bird tries to handle the unwieldiness of the material with his natural feel for wonder and whimsy but the film implodes from its own sense of having absolutely no narrative direction. (Negative thinking as villain? Really? Manila Bulletin has this film's number.) The throwaway revelation in the end about the "reality" of the world we bought into in the film's trailers is also off-putting, and in deeper regard, actually strikes me as cynical -- but no spoilers here. It is still enjoyable in bits and pieces, but you're better off with a third viewing of Mad Max: Fury Road.

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