In Search of Tomorrow (Documentary Review)

In Search of Tomorrow (Documentary Review)

Glancing out at the current cultural landscape, it’s clear nothing quite grabs attention like nostalgia. And as both Generations X and Y get older, nothing will continue to inspire nostalgia more powerfully than the 1980s. David A. Weiner’s new documentary film In Search of Tomorrow does not just rest on good feelings of the past, though. Available for pre-order on both Blu-ray or DVD through March 27, 2022 on www.80sscifidoc.com, through a tour of the ’80s most important Science Fiction, In Search of Tomorrow suggests that eye on our cultural past may yet help reveal a path to a renewed, and tempered, optimism.

You can’t build a door without a frame, though and Weiner (In Search of Darkness Part I 2019, In Search of Darkness Part II 2020) keeps his structured and simple. With the help of actors, directors, critics and others, Weiner takes us on a year-by-year journey. He doesn’t just dig into classics either. In Search of Tomorrow touches on underground films, bombs and misfires too. Weiner uses all of them to paint expansive pictures of the genre through what mattered in the 1980s and the era itself through its science fiction.

The run time, just under five hours, may seem intimidating, but In Search of Tomorrow glides. There is so much to explore that some favorites may only be briefly touched upon. In Search of
Tomorrow is attempting a tall task. Weiner can’t cover everything, even with as much time as he has. To sum it up: viewers won’t be surprised by what movies are here, but they may be surprised by what isn’t. Similarly, part of the fun is wondering who will pop in to comment. So spoiler alert… no spoilers here.

Mileage admittedly may vary with this sleek approach. Weiner covers both ‘80s films and its particular filmmaking process. He explores how special effects techniques evolved and how soundtracks and scores were changing, all of it thanks to emerging technology. This fits right in thematically with the genre. He also gives some cultural context, discussing the Cold War at the start to set the stage. Weiner’s look at the 1986 Challenger explosion also offers a sobering moment amid the understandably optimistic tone around exploration in its many forms.

Again it’s a big effort to condense the scope of an entire decade’s worth of genre film into something concise and graspable. Weiner is indeed game for it. However, it’s one thing to be up for it, but does Weiner bring it all together? This is a decade where each year could have its own two-hour documentary. Weiner does handle what he chooses to focus on deftly and nimbly. That in mind, In Search of Tomorrow does inspire a good, fun sense of the feeling of science fiction filmmaking and film watching in the 1980s. Is it the definitive look he wants it to be? That’s up to the viewer, in whose hands Weiner leaves his work. Who knows what they can find beyond the door with what In Search of Tomorrow provides?

For all that, and so many hilarious stories along the way, Cryptic Rock gives In Search of Tomorrow 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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Adam D. Johnson
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