Posts Tagged ‘Brad Bird’

Short takes: ‘The Iron Giant,’ ‘13 Ghosts’ and ‘Ad Astra’

April 27, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
April 27, 2020

The 1999 animated feature The Iron Giant is a science-fiction story set in the late 1950s in Rockwell, a quiet coastal village in Maine. The night after an immense robot plunges into the ocean during a major storm, it’s discovered and then rescued by a smart, lonely boy with the unlikely name of Hogarth Hughes (voiced by Eli Marienthal).

The pair strike up a friendship, but this is the height of the Cold War, and foreigners — be they Russians, robots or extraterrestrials (let alone extraterrestrial robots) — are not looked upon kindly. When a haughty federal agent named Kent Mansley (Christopher McDonald) comes nosing around the farm where Hogarth lives with his mom, Annie (Jennifer Aniston), Hogarth is forced into an uneasy alliance with Dean McCoppin (Harry Connick Jr.), the beatnik artist who runs the local scrapyard.

The movie is loosely adapted from The Iron Man: A Story in Five Nights, a bedtime tale that Ted Hughes devised for his children and published in 1968. (The British poet, who died in 1998, is credited as a consultant on the film.)

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Paradise and the apocalypse: Utopian visions in ‘Fury Road,’ ‘Tomorrowland’ and ‘Elysium’

June 8, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 8, 2015

After seeing Mad Max: Fury Road this week, I couldn’t help but be reminded of two other films that toy with the idea of utopia: Brad Bird’s recent movie, Tomorrowland, and Neill Blomkamp’s 2013 feature film, Elysium.

(Dear reader, please beware: There be spoilers ahead!)

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Brad Bird’s ‘Tomorrowland’ asks viewers to rally behind an optimistic, simplistic utopian concept

May 25, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 25, 2015

Brad Bird’s entertaining new movie, Tomorrowland, pits optimism vs. cynicism. Guess which wins?

Tomorrowland is a Hollywood movie, so the answer shouldn’t surprise you much. More specifically, it’s a Disney Studios movie based on a Disney theme park area, so the answer really shouldn’t surprise you.

When Frank Marshall (Thomas Robinson) was a child, a mysterious girl named Athena (Raffey Cassidy) spotted him at the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York. Athena handed Marshall a pin and told him to covertly follow her and her sourpuss adult associate, Nix (Hugh Laurie), into the It’s a Small World ride. He did so and was transported into a fantastic futuristic city…

…which the audience won’t get to revisit at length until the end of the movie. In the meantime, we’re introduced to Casey Newton, an optimistic present-day Florida teenager (Britt Robinson, playing about a decade younger than her 25 years). Her dad, Eddie Newton (Tim McGraw) is a NASA engineer who’s helping to dismantle launch pads. (Mom is out of the picture, although it’s never specified whether this is due to divorce, death or something else; her younger brother, Nate, is played by Pierce Gagnon, who has a chubby-cheeked visage that, confusingly, resembles Robinson’s.) Casey is a brilliant budding engineer in her own right who has hoped to travel to space since she was a very young child. She’s single-handedly determined to try to delay the demolition project until society gets its priorities straight.

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