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“Tomorrowland”: By Science For Science

Tomorrowland!

As Tomorrowland transports you from the real world to the unreal, the music swells and swears you’ve never seen this kind of breathtaking cityscape before, except in Thor, The Fifth Element, the Star Wars prequels, the last several Final Fantasy sequels, the Ratchet and Clank series, the richer planets on Firefly, Jupiter Ascending, Futurama

The trailers for Tomorrowland didn’t do much for me, but the name of director Brad Bird is on my ever-shrinking short-list of creators who commands my automatic attention with each new work. I count The Iron Giant and The Incredibles among my favorite films, “Krusty Gets Busted” as my all-time favorite Simpsons episode, Ratatouille as an underrated gem in Pixar’s back catalog, and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol as the rare fourth film in a series that tops the first two. The Tomorrowland trailer could’ve been two minutes of Brad Bird filling out tax forms and I would’ve penciled it into my calendar.

And then I went and saw it.

One of my online cohorts called it “the worst thing Brad Bird’s ever done”. I feel like that’s a phrase that should never exist and everything he shoots should turn into an alchemical blend of gold stars and platinum A-pluses and bubbly magic dust. I refuse to complete this paragraph with “Well, this had to happen sooner or later,” because, no, it didn’t have to happen.

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“Gravity”: Connect or Perish

Sandra Bullock, Gravity

Zero-g leaves zero margin for error.

If movie theaters were allowed to set individual rules before watching certain films, the first rule of a Gravity showing would be no snacking during the first ten minutes. After the title and text intro (“Life in space is impossible”), the movie doesn’t begin so much as it emerges from the darkness and silence of space. As a distant pinpoint expands and metamorphoses into a Space Shuttle bearing Academy Award Winners Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, the noiseless vacuum slowly parts for a trickle of radio chatter that steadily builds from volume 0 as its source nears our position.

While we eavesdropped on the cast’s interplay during their distant grand entrance, the ambiance of their stage-setting was slightly disrupted by the sounds of the peckish viewers seated around me, rustling plastic wrappers and scarfing whatever snacks they couldn’t be bothered to finish during the preceding 25-minute trailer marathon. This sort of aural dissonance isn’t an issue when you’re watching the average summer action blockbuster that kicks off with a twenty-minute 200-decibel set piece that eradicates all sound and vibration in its path.

More about this weekend’s #1 film, which presently sits at 98% on the Tomatometer…

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