A Better Future?
An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis


Tomorrowland is a series of sights that are inconceivable now but possible, even probable, in the future. Credit Disney with giving us their creative imaginings of sleek transportation – cars, trains, planes, and rockets streaking from point A to point B in contrast to the broken infrastructure of 2015. One of the pleasures of this movie is the repeated switching from 2015 to the future world that shows how old fashioned ours will soon seem. A family living in a house on a street with a contemporary car parked out front looks thoroughly old fashioned – almost as if 2015 should be filmed in black and white.

The movie captures us immediately by introducing young Frank Walker who is lugging a heavy backpack to the 1964 World’s Fair to enter his homemade rocket in the Inventors’ Competition. And so we are taken on a journey from 1964 to 2015 and then to the new future where most of the movie unfolds. Our guides are young Frank (Thomas Robinson), his sister Casey (Britt Robertson), and Athena (Raffey Cassidy), a hybrid from the future who can move readily between time zones.

We may have been lured to the movie by George Clooney who has fun playing the adult Frank, but whatever success Tomorrowland has will be due to the three outstanding young people. From his first on-screen moment, Thomas Robinson is an accomplished professional, comfortable, creative and as magical as the pin that transports him to the future. As his sister Casey, Britt Robertson is on-screen most of the time in both present and future. She carries a big part with enthusiasm and skill. Raffey Cassidy assumes a terrific other worldly presence as she teaches the others the customs and realities of the future. George Clooney is fine as old Frank who finally gets to test his childhood rocket invention.

The other bonus is watching the state of animation in the hands of Walt Disney Pictures. They hand the imaginings of writer/director Brad Bird and writers Damon Lindelof and Jef Jensen to the Disney creative team that conjures the future and presents it to us with all the bells and whistles it deserves. It’s my guess that if you are an adventurer, you will soar as you watch and if you are risk adverse, you may be scanning the screen for safe places to hide.

Negatives? Can you imagine the one thing that could sabotage this particular vision of the future? In one long, boring section the story dwells on the present where today’s beings resort to the only solution they have for anger. They fight and shoot and blow things up. You might take a nap when that begins, but check back in for the final scenes.

In a lovely ending, Uncle George and the three young actors deliver a positive message. They remind us that everyone who hasn’t given up on life gets to go to the future. How about that for a nice reality?

The Age of Adaline

For Your Pleasure
An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis

The Age of Adaline

With top flight acting and an inspired storyline, The Age of Adaline is a real summer surprise. Don’t stay away because you hear it is a fantasy. What’s more fun, in the right hands, than watching the impossible morph through the improbable into the actual?

Here’s why it works. The script, written by J. Mills Goodloe and Salvador Paskowitz, is thoroughly intriguing. Director Lee Toland Krieger takes a fine cast of actors and guides them beautifully through the impossible. If any of those factors were handled badly, the story would collapse; instead the suspense builds gradually and then accelerates because it is all done with taste and skill.

Pay close attention during the first few minutes; you’ll be hooked. We learn that Adaline (Blake Lively) was born in 1908 and grew up to marry, have a daughter, and become a widow. A few years later at 29, during an uncharacteristically snowy night in California, she lies dying in icy water when her car plunges off the road.

A narrator uses scientific reasoning to tease us into accepting that what is impossible today will be conceivable tomorrow, specifically that what we are watching will probably be reality by 2035. We learn that Adaline, deprived of oxygen for five minutes before being revived by emergency workers, has entered a state of Anoxic reflex. (Skeptics, just Google it.) The result? She will be immune forever to the ravages of time. No more farfetched than driverless cars were a few years ago.

The grim reality of watching her daughter and friends age while she remains twenty-nine drives Adaline to a life of moving constantly in order to forego any lasting entanglements. Only her daughter understands. As she moves about with just a suitcase, Adaline is preternaturally knowledgeable about the details of everything that has happened in the century she has been alive. She is irresistible when she drops short bursts of many languages and details of history into whatever era she is passing through at the moment. In a twist we don’t see coming, Harrison Ford shines. Just trust me; it’s good.

Blake Lively, without ever overacting, is thoroughly credible as a woman who injects realism into a fantasy creation. Her Adaline has become very good at being alone but she conveys a nearly unbearable loneliness in her lack of connection to anyone. When someone comes too close, Adaline simply walks away, moving yet again until finally she rejects running and lying. Blake Lively shows us the pain of holding inside what is deep and important, the aloneness of never being able to tell someone how she feels.

The rest of the inspired plot – which is just too good to reveal here – unfolds in the capable hands of Michiel Huisman, Harrison Ford, Ellen Burstyn, and Kathy Bates. Without any false notes, they show us exactly what can happen when you put a good writer’s imagined tale in the hands of real pros.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Film Title : The Age of Adaline
Distributor : Lionsgate
Running Time : 1:50
Word Count : 495
Rating : PG-13