This documentary comes in at a very weighty 5 hours long. However, every second is filled with amazing and poignant insights from more than 70 sci-fi legends. Not an ounce of it seems bloated or filled with fluff. Indeed, at the end of the 5 hours, I found myself wanting more. Perhaps a part II will be on the cards at some point? (like the Creator VC team did with their similarly styled "In Search of Darkness" series)
David Weiner both wrote and directed this epic tribute to 80's science fiction. It is very evident that he loves this era deeply and this came through very clearly in how he managed to pull his audience in. The overarching theme presented by Weiner was that the 1980's really represented the golden era of science fiction. I cannot disagree with that assessment.
"In Search of Tomorrow" starts by laying the groundwork of some classic sci-fi themes and painting the backdrop for the main decade. Year by year, important sci-fi movies were covered. With in depth interviews of directors, script writers, actors, composers, special effects artists and more the tale is told. We learn about the social background and context of each of the movies as well as why they succeeded (or in some cases fell flat). Obviously, well known classics such as "Back to The Future", "E. T.", "Empire Strikes Back" and "Aliens" were covered in detail. However, I particularly liked that lesser known movies (but equally important from a historical standpoint) were also addressed such as "Saturn 3", "Megaforce", "Buckaroo Bonzai" and "Earth Girls Are Easy". Another thing I enjoyed about the documentary was how the interviewees were not just discussing movies they were involved with but also encouraged to offer up their opinions and love of other classics in the sci-fi genre. Thus, we get to see a rich tapestry of how these legends all influenced and drew upon each other's work and performances.
Other than the year by year focus on some of the iconic sci-fi movies of the decade, there were periodic in depth focuses on important themes across the entire genre. For instance, how the special effects industry evolved from practical effects to CGI, women roles models, the effect of the Challenger disaster, advertising and product placement, music / soundtracks and more.
"In Search of Tomorrow" was not perfect of course. However, it was as close to perfect as I think reasonable to expect from ANY documentary. Certainly, there is nothing else like this that I have seen out there in the wild and I watch a LOT of science fiction. Indeed, I would say the content that Creator VC put together is leagues better than most of the special features and supplemental content that is typically found on DVDs. My only real gripes were minor at best. First, I would have enjoyed slightly more focus on the lesser known classics rather than the mainstream entries. Secondly, as the interviewees were captioned on screen, their role was listed. For instance "Director", "Special Effects Artist", "Futurist", "Film Critic" etc. All the actors were similarly listed as "Actor". However, I feel it would have better served the audience if, instead of the generic word "Actor", the character was listed that they played. For example, "Newt" for Carrie Henn in Aliens or "Clarence Boddicker" for Kurtwood Smith in Robocop. Certainly, I think the audience would have been smart enough, given the context, to conclude that this interviewee was an actor. I think it would have helped to fill in a lot of background context, particularly for adults who were child actors at the time or those who were wearing prosthetics. Regardless, this is a minor gripe and did not detract from my immense enjoyment of this riveting documentary.
In summary, I think, without hyperbole, that this was the absolute best science fiction documentary I have ever experienced. From start to finish it never lost me and that is a phenomenal feat to achieve for something that is 5 hours long. The time passed quickly with so much information and nostalgia for those who grew up with this deeply rich period of science fiction. The editing and visual effects were phenomenal and the atmospheric synthesizer sound track was spot on.
Whether you lived through the 80s and want an amazing trip down memory lane, or are new to sci-fi and want a great primer and springing off point, "In Search of Tomorrow" is a phenomenal slice of history not to be missed.
"May the Force Be With You", "Live Long and Prosper" and above all "Party on Dudes!"