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.
Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD
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?