Tomorrowland… To some, the word conjures memories of a youth spent marveling at the wonders of one of Disney’s many themed lands built within the park walls. But to a select few, the word stands for something new, exciting and mysterious. To some, Tomorrowland doesn’t refer to a theme park, but rather that of the latest live-action feature from Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol director, Brad Bird. Now, after months of speculation, Bird (along with fellow writer/producer Damon Lindelof) took to New York Comic-Con to finally unveil the world’s first look at the highly anticipated mystery/sci-fi adventure film.
At the start of the panel, Lindelof broke into a tale of Tomorrowland’s inception, citing a fateful lunch with Disney executive Sean Bailey, where the writer explained that while Pirates of the Carribean, a film based on a Disney theme park ride, seemed misguided at the time, what resulted was one of the industry’s greatest modern day franchises. The Lost alum continued the story by saying he told Bailey he would be completely interested in seeing a film with the title Tomorrowland should Disney ever attempt to pursue that kind of project again. Which, of course, they did.
Once the decision was made for Lindelof and Bird to get together in order to develop the idea, Lindelof explained he wanted to focus on Walt Disney and his history as a futurist. However, the writer’s interest became truly heightened when he and Bird discovered “the box” containing multitudes of Disney material that served as more than enough inspiration to craft the film’s world. And while the story of the film’s development was fun, there was only one thing the New York audience really wanted to see… footage. And boy, did they.
The first thing shown to the crowd was the recently released teaser trailer, something that, to no one’s surprise, went over with massive acclaim (the free swag pins hidden under everyone’s seat didn’t hurt either). To read more about the trailer for the film, just head over here. But if you do, come right back so you can read about what happened next because it will blow. your. mind.
A funny thing happens the first time a highly anticipated film hits a con: no one’s ever happy with just a sliver of a taste. There always needs to be more…
Enter Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy and Hugh Laurie.
Among massive cheers, the three stars entered the stage and quickly explained they weren’t allowed to say much in order to preserve the mystery of the film, something Lindelof detailed as being inspired by Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But what was revealed by the cast more than anything had to do with morality. As moderator (and Nerdist leader) Chris Hardwick put it, some of the characters feature a personality based in “chaotic good.” They aren’t bad people, but they aren’t necessarily good ones either. They don’t do bad, but they don’t care whether or not they do good. What was becoming ever clearer as they continued elaborating on the idea was just how complex a tale Tomorrowland truly is.
Of course, the shockers didn’t end there because as Hugh began playfully poking fun at this co-star, George Clooney, Mr. Ocean himself took the stage to massive cheers. However, the acclaimed actor quickly explained he was doing so at the cost of his honeymoon, and the reason he had never attended a con until now was because he believed his Batman film got him “uninvited.” And yes, he did apologize for bat nipples.
When Clooney sat down, he began amping up the crowd… we knew what was coming next. More footage:
What followed was an extended five to six minute action sequence featuring the first time Robertson’s Casey meets Clooney’s Frank Walker. When it opens, Casey’s already found Frank’s home and begs to be let inside. Immediately, she’s refused by Frank and told to leave, to which Casey camps outside Frank’s door for hours (possibly days) waiting to be let in. Eventually, she manages to make her way into Frank’s home through comical trickery, and this is where things get interesting.
Apparent androids who followed Casey to Frank’s appear and begin systematically making their way into the home in order to “eliminate” Frank and take the girl. This is where the masterful eye for action seen in Bird’s Mission: Impossible comes into play. For many very easy to follow action beats, Frank and Casey use cleverly hidden (and very cool looking) technology to thwart their pursuers, eventually making their way out of the house via rocket – yes, you read that right – and to apparent safety… sort of. You’ll see next year.
If we had to sit here and point out one thing that truly stands out about the footage, it would have to be the grounded nature of the technology. Everything seen in the sequence is fantastical, but doesn’t feel out of the realm of realistic possibility. It’s hard to explain, which might be a good thing. However, we can say that what we did see got us truly excited.
The footage was the kind of thing that could turn anyone into a believer in Bird’s next film. Tomorrowland feels like something the world is craving for again: an original, fresh franchise picture that’s ready to present a world we could have only dreamed of.
Welcome to Tomorrowland.