Simon Morris looks at two revivals - old-fashioned disaster movie San Andreas starring Duane Johnson, and a nostalgic look back on Walt Disney's 1950s view of the future in Tomorrowland starring George Clooney. He also reviews an Irish film Noble based on real-life philanthropist, Christina Noble.
The big picture with Simon Morris
These are exciting times to make movies. The things that can be shown on the big screen are now so astonishing, we’ve become blasé about them.
What better time to revisit the old Disaster Movies of the Seventies, or to come up with a Tomorrowland that would blow Walt Disney’s mind? But amidst all these visual riches, one skill seems to have been lost. Where’s the story? Where’s the solid narrative that keeps you interested to the end?
Case in point, the new disaster movie San Andreas.
You can’t complain about the “disaster” part of San Andreas, but the classic disaster film was basically a dozen or so soap opera stories, all pushed to a crisis by the upended Poseidon, the Killer Bees and the Towering Inferno.
Without these hokey stories San Andreas is just a bunch of stuff endlessly falling over.
By contrast, the inspiring tale of Christina Noble falls over – not because it’s not true, but because it is. And real life, as every documentary-maker knows, is the hardest thing to lick into an engaging narrative. It’s just so random.
But first, something even harder to turn into a story – a fairground ride. It’s the latest Disneyland attraction to be converted into a movie – Uncle Walt’s beloved Tomorrowland…
When Walt Disney conceived of Tomorrowland, the future looked bright. In the Fifties, technology was the answer - curing every disease, flying people to the Moon on a daily basis, jet-packing to work and coming home to robot butlers and housekeepers.
These days, the universally accepted fate of the Earth – and not just in movies – is disaster. We’re all doomed, apparently, to a dying planet with no work to jetpack to, and those cute robot butlers now psychotic Terminators.
So can Walt’s optimism be revived?