Cineast offers previews of the new movies Tomorrowland and Poltergeist.
George Clooney stars as genius scientist Frank Walker and Britt Robertson is Casey Newton, a young woman who accidentally discovers what Clooney is up to. It has something to do with time travel or an alternate universe—a magical, super-advanced place that becomes accessible through touching a small transponder: Tomorrowland. The film is a kind of riff on The Wizard of Oz, although obviously filtered through a bright-eyed, optimistic, Magic Kingdom mentality (this is a Disney picture, after all, and the original Tomorrowland is a district of Disneyworld—I mention that in case you’re one of the seven people who didn’t know it already). Tomorrowland could pull off a pretty neat trick for Disney. Because we all know that Walt Disney’s vision for the future, as evidenced by Disneyworld’s Tomorrowland and by EPCOT, never did come to pass. Very few of us live in geodesic domes, few of us have traveled to outer space, and very few get around on monorails. As a result, Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT have come to be kind of ironic repositories of gee-whiz ’60s futurism. But what if, as the film Tomorrowland suggests, Disney’s vision DID come to pass, and we just aren’t able to see it? The film could serve to reboot the theme park without Disney having to change any Tomorrowland details at all. Those Disney folks are pretty sneaky.
There are lots of reasons to NOT do a remake of Poltergeist. For starters, the 1982 original is a modern-day classic—how could it not be when it features the freaky Zelda May Rubinstein as the psychic medium Tangina Barrons (“Go into the light!”)? You’re not going to find another Zelda May. Then there’s a technical issue: in the original, the daughter first senses the presence of the poltergeists through the snow on the TV screen—that which you used to see if you turned on the TV in the middle of the night after the stations ended their broadcasts. Well, snow doesn’t appear any more with such regularity, so in the new film they have to settle for a wildly malfunctioning TV, which is a touch on the nose because it’s too obvious—you wouldn’t need any special clairvoyance to know something strange was happening if your TV was going that berserk. Then there’s the well-known Poltergeist curse—the unhappy fates that befell some of the actors in the original film. Look it up. I could go on. Apparently, the makers of the new Poltergeist feel that there’s a good reason to update the film to the present day and fill it with all of the horror gimmicks that have appeared since 1982. Will audiences agree?