Friday, May 29, 2015

Tomorrowland's Borrowed Plot

My friends and I went to see Tomorrowland the other night, and while I'll admit my expectations were fairly low to begin with, I found it better than anticipated. Not a movie I'd run back to a second time, but certainly a decent Wednesday night break.  

However, something became startlingly clear as the movie progressed; every aspect of the plot I found interesting was essentially borrowed from preexisting stories. 


I'll begin with the most obvious -- the futuristic world of Tomorrowland. A place where thinkers, inventors, and dreamers are free to immerse themselves in creativity without restriction or hinderance. Sound familiar to anyone else? For anyone intimate with the work of writer/philosopher Ayn Rand, it will definitely ring some bells. Tomorrowland is reminiscent of Atlas Shrugged's Galt's Gulch, a safe haven for the great minds of the world away from the oppressive majority. And apparently I'm not alone in making this connection. Brad Bird, the movie's director, has been cited numerous times for his objectivist tendencies (links to a few of these articles here and here). Still, borrowed or not, you can't discount that it made for some interesting visuals. 

Moving on from some decidedly Rand-ian concepts, I'd next like to point out the film's technological device that shows the future. Afraid of the doomsday images he sees there, Tomorrowland's Governor David Nix broadcasts these images to the people on Earth, hoping to frighten them into enacting change. Instead it acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy and world rushes toward it's own destruction. Again, you might recognize this plot device from other stories, most notably Philip K. Dick's "Paycheck" and it's 2003 movie adaptation. It's your basic "seeing the future creates that future" concept, and far from original. 

Last but not least, the Audio-Animatronic robot, Athena. A scout in search of new Tomorrowland recruits, she befriends a younger Frank Miller (aka. George Clooney) and forms complicated feelings toward him which she attributes to a glitch in her empathy matrix. Okay, now come on. That's just a Disneyfied repackaging of the "I know now why you cry" scene from Terminator 2: Judgement Day. And no one can tell me any different. 

Like I said in the beginning of this post, it wasn't a terrible movie. I just couldn't help but feel that 90% of it came from other stories. But hey if you're going to commandeer concepts from other books and movies, at least Brad Bird chose some of the greats, right? 


  1. You nailed it! Not a bad movie, not a good movie. And certainly not memorable. Plus a bit preachy.

  2. All I think of when I see the title is Tomorrowland at Disneyland. Makes one wonder if they are going ot make a movie out of every attraction there like they did with Pirates of the Caribbean. Thanks for the review. We'll probably catch it on RedBox.


  3. I haven't seen it yet... it looked SO CHEESEY!!! Haha! The real question isn't "Was it worth it for a Wednesday night?" but "Is it worth spending a free night SANS baby on this movie?" If you can successfully answer that, THEN I'd see it! Haha! Otherwise, it's doomed to the Red Box category for me... (which is kinda like an agent's slush pile, I think. Haha!)

  4. I seriously doubt if I'll be seeing this anytime soon, even though I am a big fan of Brad Bird. Perhaps sometime after it gets a Blu-ray/DVD release.

  5. I like George Clooney. I love it when the future is shown in an optimistic way without zombies but I have no desire to see this film. Even the trailers looked flat to me. Interesting to read this because it brought out what I was thinking

  6. I haven't seen it, so I can't really judge. But I guess at least they didn't copy one entire plotline into a new vision of the same story?

  7. Huh. Even still, sounds interesting enough to give it a whirl once it hits Redbox. Really though, everything is a regurgitated plot, in one manner or another. As long as it's taken in a different, interesting way.. all good. *shrug*