Jurassic World…wow. I mentioned a while back that I was trying to keep an open mind; but by the time I went to see it, I wasn’t expecting much. And despite going into it prepared for a fairly dumb popcorn movie, another that failed to live up to the first, I still managed to be disappointed. From unimpressive CGI, to characters acting as if they hadn’t a brain in their heads, to using some of the character tropes that seriously get under my skin; this movie not only failed to impress me, but managed to really rub me the wrong way.
I wound up having the opposite experience with Tomorrowland. The movie looked like something I’d enjoy from the previews, but most of the reviews I’d heard suggested that it failed to live up to its potential. I still decided to give it a try, and wound up liking it quite a bit. Funny enough, much of what I liked in this movie was what Jurassic World had failed at.
The first things I noticed, and enjoyed, about Tomorrowland were the main characters – or two of them, anyway. The first is the girl seen in the trailers who finds the mysterious pin, and the second is another girl with a rather different backstory. Without giving too much away, they were both characters that I resonated with – and not just because they were both girls. They both had personalities that I bought, despite some dialogue choices seeming a bit clunky. They were both interesting in ways that grabbed my attention: Casey’s ability to “just know how things work” and the fight scenes with Athena. I wanted to see more of them, and I was invested enough to care what happened to them.
As I mentioned, the characters in Jurassic World were one of the reasons I found the movie so awful. Many of them are written in ways that make them unlikeable, unrelatable, unbelievable, or all of the above. I don’t mind saying that the use of the female lead as, “Woman who is in a position of power and responsibility in the work world, yet is somehow conveniently useless in a disaster, and then learns to be more powerful after spending time with a guy”…yeah. That trope annoys me – in part because it is so unbelievable. You don’t get to be in charge of a major corporation (or in this case, themepark) if you’re useless under pressure. I’m also not the first person to mention that it’s super annoying and bizarre that her subplot seems to be that ever popular one in which women can either be dedicated to their jobs OR good with kids/family. Never both. Apparently, being dedicated to your job (in this movie) means you literally cannot even communicate with these odd things called children. (Then again, if you’re a mother you apparently have other issues, so there is that.)
Ok, moving on.
Unlike Jurassic World – and indeed, unlike most movies, in Tomorrowland they did NOT attempt to squeeze in a romantic subplot. While the backstory does have elements of one, it isn’t central to the plot and does not involve the primary female lead. I can’t even tell you how glad I am that they made this decision. I am not inherently against love stories in movies, but in so many cases the story is interesting enough that it doesn’t need one. Don’t even get me started on the idea that if a story has a teenage female lead, they are only believable if they have a love interest. It also saves this movie from another failing seen in Jurassic World…if you don’t inject a love story, you don’t have to worry about a weak and unbelievable one.
Storywise, something I enjoyed in Tomorrowland is likely not going to be ok by everyone. They definitely skim over some of the plot, and some of the backstory, in a way that will likely leave people wondering why certain things happened. I am ok with this in some stories. In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, we are not told why or how the wardrobe is a gateway to Narnia. (I am fully aware this is explained in a later book in the series, I’m talking about the initial story, here). We don’t need to know all of the details. The story of Lucy, her siblings, and the denizens of Narnia is plenty entertaining all on its own. To be told more would needlessly complicate the story, when there’s enough magic in it already to make “because magic” a good enough explanation. While I feel like the things skipped by this movie are also acceptable pieces of the unknown (in this case, “because the future”), I certainly understand that’s not the case for everyone.
The story in Jurassic World seemed…well, all over the place. Not enough explanation at points where they really need the audience onboard (Seriously…how is this even a thing after the other deaths? How is there not a better disaster plan – again, after the other deaths?). In other places the plot seemed too cluttered, with military subplots and characters connected to each other in arbitrary ways. I am also deeply curious how being in the Navy prepares you for a career training dinosaurs. I’d certainly have considered the Navy over the Army if I’d known raptor training was involved.
In all this, I don’t mean to give the impression that Jurassic World did nothing right (it had its moments) or that Tomorrowland did nothing wrong (it…also had its moments). Tomorrowland happened to do things right that I rarely see, while what Jurassic World did wrong were things I can’t help but notice.
As in anything, you can only know what you think of a movie if you see it yourself!
I live in the American Midwest with a black lab mix named Loki, three cats, and a chinchilla. I’m in my 30’s, and I’ve enjoyed reading, writing, gaming, and assorted geeky pursuits my entire life. I’m a panelist on Beyond the Veil, a regular guest on a few non-Holosuite livestreams, and have a gaming/writing blog over at www.lfgryph.com.
Other than writing and gaming, I’ve worked at a few different Renaissance Festivals and I used to be on a Rocky Horror Picture Show shadowcast in the Twin Cities.
I love otters, ST:TNG, D&D, Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, and setting zombies on fire. My Twitter is @darkgryphon42 if you’d like to keep up with what I’m doing.