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It’s another sunny day on the front lines! I wonder what Nataku would think if he got a hold of Atsumori’s message…

Okay, now I’m going to go on a long rant about Tomorrowland, so let me explain why! You see, I was super excited to see Tomorrowland since it’s Brad Bird‘s second live action feature. Brad Bird, for those unfamiliar, is the director behind some of the most highly rated animated features in the last couple decades; Ratatouille, The Incredibles,  and The Iron Giant. Every movie he’s directed has had over 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. He’s so well regarded that there was an online petition after Disney bought Lucasfilm to get Brad Bird to direct the new Star Wars film. His first live action film was Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, which was easily the best of the MI films, with a lot of great action set pieces and fun character moments. So I was pretty hyped for Tomorrowland. THEN I DISCOVERED HE CO WROTE IT WITH DAMON LINDELOF.

Damon Lindelof is screenplay poison. The guy is a master of writing nonsense, as far as I can tell. Screenplays he’s written include such greats as World War Z (which famously had nothing to do with the popular book it was supposedly based on), Star Trek Into Darkness (whose plot makes less sense the more you try to understand it),  Prometheus (in which, again, nothing makes sense and scientists act like idiots and get killed), and LOST (the cultural phenomenon that raised so many intriguing questions and then copped out with a “they were dead the whole time!” explanation to invalidate a need for answers). I do not care for Lindelof’s writing, and so my expectations for Tomorrowland plummeted pretty sharply.

In the end, the movie’s somewhere in between great and awful, so I guess it’s OKAY. SPOILERS: The plot itself has some big holes, and although the movie spends a good amount of time at the beginning teasing the futuristic city of Tomorrowland, the main characters don’t actually reach it until close to the end, spending most of their time being chased around by humanoid robots. I think my biggest problem with the film, other than some uneven pacing, is that it’s message is exceedingly preachy while its story is rather muddled. It crams the message of “stay optimistic, work towards a better future” while at the same time not really having a story that reflects that mentality. In no way does working towards a better future and remaining optimistic help the main characters overcome any of the movie’s problems! In fact, the day is saved by a little girl robot who self destructs, blowing up a building that then crushes an evil Hugh Laurie, who’s already  half crushed be a piece of debris from a previous explosion. A lot of things blow up in this movie, and there’s quite a bit of violence. It’s frustrating the characters didn’t have more constructive, less destructive solutions to better match the supposed theme of the film, which leads to another major problem, the lead character.

We’re introduced to a young boy who we immediately know grows up to be George Clooney because the intro is unnecessarily narrated to us by the boy’s older self. We’re then introduced to a teenage girl, who is supposed to be the true main character of the movie because she’s quickly established to be the chosen one who can prevent a future path where Earth goes all post apocalyptic. But in the end, the girl never really gets to shine, she’s never very proactive in the story, and the majority of the problem solving is left to Clooney. It reminded me of Jupiter Ascending, another film where the female lead spends all her time falling off of tall buildings and being saved.

Both of these problems could’ve been solved at the end of the film in a pretty simple way! We’re told a device that Clooney’s character created in Tomorrowland is sending out negative feelings and ideas that are affecting the people of Earth, and that will lead to the Earth’s apocalyptic future. They end up blowing this device up with the self destructing girl robot I mentioned earlier. The idea of what’s causing the coming apocalypse and how to ‘stop it with explosions‘ comes from the lead female character, which is her most proactive moment. But if she had instead thought “let’s use this device to send out positive, hopeful messages, like the one that got me excited to come to Tomorrowland in the first place!” Then the film could’ve had that constructive, feel good solution that it really needed so it could gel better with it’s in-your-face preachiness. It certainly would’ve saved my opinion of it, at least!

Tomorrowland isn’t all bad, though! George Clooney plays a great ‘bitter old guy’ trope. I did like a lot of the dialog, which was clever. I laughed out loud quite a bit, and if a movie can make me do that I can be pretty forgiving of its faults. I totally did not like how the film used a lot of cartoon physics for its action scenes, though. There are between eight and ten separate occasions where either main character should’ve died or received serious injury from a nasty fall or impact. Right at the beginning of the movie the young George Clooney character straps on a jet pack, and it misfires, sending him smashing multiple times into the ground and through a fence. It looks like it should kill him, but he doesn’t have a scratch, which pretty much eliminates any sense that the characters will ever be in danger. Maybe they did that because it’s a kids movie and they don’t want kids to worry? But, having been a kid, I can say that when characters are in danger I’m far more engaged in a story!

Anyway, I’m not sure how much I’d recommend Tomorrowland, as it is basically a bland kids movie. There is one sequence where the girl walks through the future city for several minutes. My eyes glued to the screen, soaking up the imaginative Land of Tomorrow. In that moment I could completely understand why the main character was so driven to get to that city. The first thing I said as we left the theater was “I wish that part had been the whole movie!”


Friday (5/29) at 9PM EDT, Joe and I are going to be online for a NN4B SMASH BROS NIGHT. Post your WiiU username in the comments and join in!

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  • TheMeddler

    Waitaminute. This sideburns, the those sparks of fire behind him, the warlike attitude; Nataku is General Zhao! O_o

    • suburban_samurai

      One wonders if he’ll share Zhao’s fate. Granted, there have been a dearth of water spirits in nn4b thus far.

  • EternalLurker

    4th text box: the past tense of “lead” is “led”, no ‘A’.

    • Brandenfascher

      Perhaps it’s an intentional pun foreshadowing the approaching gun warfare.

      • suburban_samurai

        Yes, a totally intentional misspelling that I will probably fix with the next update.

    • TekServer

      If the past tense of lead is led, shouldn’t the past tense of read be red?
      English is hard.

  • Flaming Squirrel

    Jeez, that Atsumori guy seems pretty shady. I’d watch my back around him if I were you…

    • suburban_samurai

      I question his continued reasonable attitude!

      • Flaming Squirrel

        If you ain’t killin’ somebody, you ain’t BE nobody!

      • Flaming Squirrel

        I have a non-comic related question that your movie review made me think of. Did you ever see Maleficent, and what did you think of it? I went to see it with a friend, who happened to be of the female gender. She came out all “I am woman hear me roar!” but I was more concerned with how the story ignored several logical plotlines just to make all of the men bad guys- except for the crow, who was completely subservient to Maleficent.

        • suburban_samurai

          An excellent question! I DID see Maleficent, and I thought it was very dumb and tonally ALL OVER THE PLACE. Maleficent was never evil! She did, like, one evil thing, and that was debatable because it was in retaliation for being physical assaulted in a way that felt very ‘rape-symbolic’, and then she redeemed herself like 500% by the end of the film. I remember that the King, who was her ex-lover, was an incoherent, insane person who was both super overprotective of his daughter and simultaneously completely uninterested in her well-being. I also recall that Maleficent’s magical kingdom was apparently socialist in that there was no caste system, except everyone treated her like a queen, and she acted like one. There’s a lot of contradictory plot stuff like that.

          Also, there was plenty of really dark, violent imagery in a movie that, at the same time, had slapstick humor with the lame fairy godmothers. The climactic scene felt like the Witch King vs Eowyn from Return of the King, it was so out of place. And let’s not forget that Maleficent never turned into a dragon, she had her crow sidekick transform!! There was clearly no attempt to play this off as a ‘Wicked’ style ‘alternate point of view’ story, since it was clearly an alternate universe.

          I vaguely remember a million other little things that annoyed me, but I don’t remember them anymore and I probably never will because I have no intention of seeing Maleficent again!

          • Flaming Squirrel

            I remember thinking that Stephan cut off Maleficent’s wings to bring peace to their kingdoms, at which point he would explain himself, apologize for acting without her consent, and tthe Maleficent would refuse to forgive him and turn all evil like in the movie. But no, he was just evil and selfish. The idea of telling Sleeping Beauty from the villain’s pov had a ton of potential, but you’re right, they went with the “Everyone hates me and everything they told you is a lie” route. I mean, her name is a clear play on the word “malevolent.” That’s like naming your charitable heroine “Puppy Killer McOrphan Stabber.”

          • suburban_samurai

            True! Although, and I may not recall this exactly, but did she take on the name Maleficent after she was de-winged? I vaguely remember her having like a happier name to begin with. Maybe I’m just making that up, like I say, I haven’t seen it since it came out in theaters.

          • Flaming Squirrel

            Nope, she was Maleficent from the start. Seriously, what were her parents thinking?

            …Then again, I often wonder the same thing about Benedict Cumberbatch’s parents.

          • reynard61

            Actually, he comes by his name quite legitimately:

   (see: Background.)

  • Astralfury

    Man I sure hope that Nataku doesn’t have a much larger hawk or a good marksman taking out the messenger birds…

    • suburban_samurai

      Wouldn’t that be a painfully predictable follow up to this page!

      • Xinef

        No, it’s Nataku. He handles all such things through his own power. He’d either punch the hawk, or kick it, or just use his sideburns to make it fall dead. Shooting is for the weak.

      • Astralfury

        That’s what you *want* us to think.

  • Kid Chaos

    It’s really too bad; Atsumori doesn’t realize that Hirotomo really, *really* wants a war with the Senshin clan. I hope nobody tells him that; he would be so disappointed with his lord…

    • Xinef

      Though Hirotomo is more patient than Nataku, so he’s more likely to wait for a better opportunity, or use less direct ways to achieve his goals.

    • suburban_samurai

      You’re quick to assume Hirotomo’s wants and needs!

      • Kid Chaos

        To be specific, Hirotomo really wanted to unite the clans…under his leadership, of course. What he *needs*, at this point, is a good butt-kicking.

  • Xinef

    Wait, Nataku is able to think?

    • suburban_samurai

      Nataku thinks perhaps too much.

      • Kid Chaos

        “I think too much, therefore I am mad! Grrr!”

  • Minando

    Translation: the boy is an evil plotting racoon, but I would rather cut my own throat than admitting that.

    • Xinef

      Just like his father! … except slightly less professional.
      Also not worth admitting though.

  • Sunwu

    Next up on Ken burns “Feudal Japanese Civil war”: “My dearest Cho, long has it been since we parted in the apple grove at Gettysburg , I keep that warm night we shared close to my heart and pray that this war of Northern Wataro Aggression might end soon that we may meet again. It feels strange writing a letter to a blind person, here inclosed are some mushrooms with strange powers that might help you see.” -Yours truly, Shonen

    • suburban_samurai

      You’re really helping to flesh out the side characters. Sunwu, you’re in charge of the NN4B expanded universe. I can’t guarantee it won’t all be tossed out after we’re bought by Disney, though.

  • noisyparker

    mistakes and time… aaaand Schoolhouse Rock cartoons.

    • Kid Chaos

      Three is a magic number, yes it is! It’s a magic number…

  • David A. Tatum

    OT, but I got an interesting package in the mail yesterday. Volume 2 of one of my favorite webcomics. Woohoo!

    • suburban_samurai

      This gladdens and embiggens my heart! I guess we need to update the kickstarter to let backers know they’re shipping. I hope you like the Cho and Euleilla sketch. Joe came up with the word bubble dialog. I told him “gimme a short funny statement that one blind person would say to another.” Forty five minutes later, that’s what ya got! (It takes some time to be funny in such a specific circumstance)

      • David A. Tatum

        *snerk* Fourty-five minutes for one sentence seems to be about the pace I’ve been writing my latest novel at… and I’m not even trying to be special-circumstance-funny! (I am VERY close to the end, however, and it always seems that my writing slows down the closer I get to the end).
        Love the sketch, and the line was perfect!

      • Xinef

        Forty five minutes?!? I don’t see your problem, man!

        … ok, that one’s a bit overused. Almost as overused as the “I can’t see what you did there!”, but the art of punjitsu takes years of practice.

  • leavescat

    My WiiU username is LeavesCat. Also, again, EDT 😀

    • jwkovell

      Those who CTRL+C their mistakes are doomed to CTRL+V them.

  • Da’Zlein

    “Dear Lord Hirotomo,

    Why did you send this nancyboy with me to the battlefield? I know he’s your adviser but he got beaten by a flipping peasant! I demand you pull him from the front lines ASAP and let me and your son get some real war-winning done!

    With love, Nataku”

    • suburban_samurai

      I can see Nataku signing his letter as such.

    • leavescat

      He wasn’t beaten by a peasant; he may not be high class, but lord Indigo is still a lord. Tactically, he was beaten by Ina, who is also not a peasant. The only peasants involved were the army, but then again, his own army was probably mostly peasants too.

      Course, Nataku could easily point out that he was beaten by a girl, which would possibly be more humiliating because misogyny (If Ina is a teenager, it’d be even worse).

      • Da’Zlein

        While it was probably meant as an insult rather than an observation, he does call Indigo a peasant here:

        And compared to Nataku’s and Atsumori’s status’ as Hirotomo’s assistants, most would be peasants by comparison (especially a minor lord of a small farming village)

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