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What the Flick: TRON Legacy

December 21, 2010 3 comments

If you’ve never seen The Matrix trilogy before, then allow me to recommend TRON Legacy as a healthy alternative: All the shiny special effects and bogus philosophical shenanigans, but in one-third the time!

I didn’t go into this movie with any great love for the original, although the visuals were impressive for their time. I’m not a big fan of Olivia Wilde. I’d never heard of Garrett Hedlund. But, hey, it had Michael Sheen, James Frain, Jeff Bridges, and CGI Jeff Bridges. It seemed like a recipe for moderately cool, man.

But it wasn’t.

Michael Sheen spent his five minutes imitating David Bowie. James Frain was a reject from Heavy Metal. Jeff Bridges’s Kevin Flynn went from ambitious computer designer to goofy zen master – the Virtual Dude. And CGI Jeff Bridges was just creepy.

I saw the show in IMAX, which at least guaranteed that I got my money’s worth from the impressive light cycle, disc battle, and light jet air combat sequences. But the premise of a race of spontaneously generated “programs” within the virtual world (TRON’s version of midichlorians, I suppose) was just preposterous. That foolishness got trumped later when one of the programs made the transition from virtual to real world.

Kevin Flynn doesn’t want to get directly involved in a revolution because his creation, Clu, is after the info disk on his back. A secondary character mentions later that it’s possible to forge those info disks. One would think that Flynn, creator of this world, would know that. So, when he inevitably gets off his zen pillow and jumps into the middle of the action, someone steals the disk off his back. I smugly suggested to my girlfriend that Flynn probably prepared for that contingency by putting a forged disk on his back.

But no. No, he was just an idiot, allowing his disk to fall into the hands of the enemy.

I also found myself hoping that the real world plot, about the machinations within Flynn’s company ENCOM, would somehow get tied into the virtual world plot. But no. The one sighting of the ENCOM board was just to establish with clunky exposition that the company had moved on from Flynn’s altruistic mentality.

And, finally, there’s TRON himself, relegated in this story to the role of junkyard dog who turns against Flynn and serves Clu until the plot contrives for him to change alliances without any decent explanation.

I won’t call this movie an insult. I think an insult would have required more effort. It’s just a shiny bottle of noise and light. Enjoy the visuals, but don’t look for anything meaningful.

We’re gonna need a bigger hose

February 27, 2010 Leave a comment

There’s a scene in The Crazies when Tim Olyphant’s sheriff confronts the mayor of Doomsville (or Ogden Marsh) about denying water to the town’s population because it might be carrying a toxic brain-scrambling illness, and the mayor starts going on about how the town lives and dies by its crops, and you need water to keep the crops alive, so the water’s gotta run!

At that moment, I immediately linked this movie in my mind to Steven Spielberg’s classic, Jaws. It put me in mind of Chief Brody’s conversation with Amity’s mayor about shutting down the beaches on 4th of July weekend. That moment, and so many more, really endeared this remake to me.

It’s one of those movies with lots of AHHH! jumpy scary moments, done on a rather modest and intimate scale, with some great comic interaction between Olyphant and Joe Anderson as the town deputy. The scaled-back production for most of the movie really helps the special effects-laden moments pack a serious whallop.

If you’re feeling thirsty, though – don’t drink the water.

One LARP Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

February 26, 2010 Leave a comment

I have to say that I really enjoyed Martin Scorcese’s latest movie, Shutter Island. This brain-bender is a noir-throwback detective adventure with the twist that (see where I said it’s a twist? If you don’t want to learn more about the twist, don’t go any further than this)

Read more…

Sherlock Holmes: No duh!

December 29, 2009 Leave a comment

The latest incarnation of Sherlock Holmes comes to us courtesy of rough-and-tough action director Guy Ritchie and ever-resurgent ’80s burnout Robert Downey Jr.

Rampant fisticuffs are the unmistakable signs of a Ritchie film and I think everybody but the drugged-out dog throws a punch or a kick at someone else before the final credits roll.

It’s an interesting story, with Sherlock and Watson matching wits against a society of dark mages led by the devious Lord Blackwood. I couldn’t help thinking of this pairing of Sherlock and Watson as more akin to Batman and Alfred, especially with the addition of the roguish Irene Adler (Catwoman, for our purposes in this comparison).

There were some amusing twists and turns, although some of the narrative re-weavings get a little redundant over time. (The first instance when I get to look inside the mind of Holmes as he maps out the physical obliteration of an opponent, I get it – he does this. The other times, it’s just indulgent unless Holmes gets it wrong.)

Fun movie, despite my brief grumbling there. Definitely worth seeing on the big screen!