Bum Rap – TRON: Legacy
November 21st, 2014 | By: Bert Ehrmann
I really thought I was going to hate TRON: Legacy (2010) before I actually saw it. It was a movie that didn’t seem to generate a lot of good “buzz” before release, got bad reviews when it did come out and just didn’t seem all that hip or cool to begin with. Who makes a sequel to the movie TRON (1982) that at that point was nearly 30 years old and didn’t do that well at the box office to begin with? That was the question no one seemed to ask before TRON: Legacy went into production.
Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde
So I only saw TRON: Legacy when I caught it during a free Starz weekend one Saturday night a year or so after its release. Even then I only happened to start watching it at about the mid-point scene where Castor (Michael Sheen) is shooting light…things(?) out of his cane during the big bar fight. I couldn’t believe how weird the whole thing looked. But even then there was something about the visuals and what story I’d seen that piqued my interest so I DVRd a later showing and watched it the next day.
And watching the movie from the beginning I was actually kind’a surprised — I found TRON: Legacy to be pretty great. Unlike a lot of other big-budget movies of similar theme, TRON: Legacy has an interesting story mixed with action along with slick CGI visuals. And at least here, set inside the world of a computer, these slick CGI visuals actually make sense.
Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn / Clu
What’s really interesting about TRON: Legacy from a fan standpoint is that it’s a true sequel. Who else does that where today it’s normal for similar movies to do a “reboot” every few years? There were ten years between Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man reboot. The American version of Godzilla had 16 years between reboots. And there were 21 years between Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboots. With the TRON movies there’s that nearly 30 year gap between the first and second and it’s like the creators of the movies figured they’d be able to explain enough in the story of TRON: Legacy as to what happened during those years for the audience to keep up.
“Tron, what have you become?”
In the original TRON, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) created a computerized universe and was digitized himself and placed on the “Grid.” There in the computer, Flynn played life and death games and fought to free the programs of this universe from the Master Control Program. And told in flashbacks in TRON: Legacy, Flynn delved deeper into the world of TRON and created a program that was a duplicate of himself, Clu. But just when he was on the verge of a major discovery Flynn went missing. Now, about 20 years later, Flynn’s grown son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) goes looking for him and finds his father in the most unexpected of places; trapped in his computerized universe that’s been running and evolving with a despot Clu looking for Flynn’s head and a way off the Grid.
Jeff Bridges as Clu
Essentially, TRON: Legacy is an effective chase film, with Clu chasing Flynn and Sam along with program Quorra (Olivia Wilde) all looking for some means of escaping his computerized universe and slipping into ours. This, along with the mostly spectacular special effects, makes TRON: Legacy one of the better big budget computer effects driven action movies of the last decade.
I do say that the special effects are “mostly spectacular” because of one glaring issue with TRON: Legacy; the character of Clu. Not with the actual character, he works well. What mostly doesn’t work is the 3D effects used to bring Clue to life. In the movie Jeff Bridges plays Flynn as a 60 year old man and computer effects are used to create the face of Clu as Bridges looked in the original TRON as a spry 30 year something man. When these effects work the younger Bridges/Clu looks great. When it doesn’t it comes off creepy and fake.
Otherwise, though the creators of TRON: Legacy have created a true artificial world almost entirely in the realm of 3D computer effects.
Wait, Nick Castle, the guy who played “The Shape” aka Michael Myers in the first Halloween movie, also directed The Last Starfighter!?
≽ Bert Ehrmann |
November 20th, 2014
I’ve been reading the first collected volume of the Hellblazer comic. It’s actually quite good, much better than I’d expected. It’s incredibly well written by Jamie Delano and gorgeously illustrated by John Ridgway. It’s one of those comics that has a lot of social commentary in it, yet it’s not a comic book just about social stuff. It’s about demons and bad people and mean things and ass John Constantine too.
≽ Bert Ehrmann |
November 19th, 2014
What’s the official version of a movie?
November 18th, 2014 | By: Bert Ehrmann
This has been something that’s been bouncing around my head for some time now; what’s the official version of a movie? That is, when there are generally three versions of popular films — the cut that was released in theaters, one of the movie for TV with cuts for language and violence and sometime later an “extended edition” or director’s cut of the movie too — which one of these is the “official” version of the movie, the one we’d want to preserve for future generations?
At first glance, I’d say the cut that was released in theaters is the official version of the film. That anything that comes after is simply an addition/deletion to this preferred version of the movie. But then again wouldn’t the director’s cut be the official version, since, well, the director of the movie sees this as his/her most complete version of the film?
With a movie like Star Wars I’d say that the official version of the film is the one that was released in theaters in 1977. That whatever came after, be it retitling the movie Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope in 1981 or in 1997 and 2004 adding additional special effects and scenes to the movie, didn’t improve on the original but instead were just changes to something that didn’t need changed in the first place.
Then again with a movie like Aliens I’d say that the official version of the film is James Cameron’s director’s cut originally released in 1992 on Laserdisc. This version of Aliens has additional scenes that were removed from the theatrical version of the film to cut down the running time but when added back serve to clear up some story points and add depth to characters that was only hinted at in the original.
But what about a movie like Blade Runner that has a theatrical version, a director’s cut in ’92 and then a “final cut” in 2007? Which version of this movie is official? I don’t think it’d be the theatrical version since this is a cut of the movie no one from audiences to director to stars that seems to care for. But then which version of the director’s cut would be official then? Is it the ’92 version that seemed to be director Ridley Scott’s final statement on the film — until 2007 when the movie was remastered for better sound and hi def?
And that’s not taking into account movies edited for television — or the dreaded, “This film has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit this screen and edited for content.” And sometimes too the edited versions that air on TV don’t just have things removed they also have additional content added to them too. Like with Superman II that had somewhere between 17 and 24 minutes of material that wasn’t in the film version added to the TV version. Or the odd The Godfather Saga that’s still shown from time to time that edits The Godfather and The Godfather Part II into a seven hour long “mini-series” that’s told in chronological order but did have involvement of Francis Ford Coppola?
And none of this takes into account various edits made to films for international audiences. Be it the cursing cut out of The Goonies for the UK or even characters and whole subplots added to Iron Man 3 for Chinese audiences.
Here’s the thing, the more I write about this the less I feel like I know what the “official” version of any movie really is. I would argue that whenever the director of the film isn’t involved in cutting/adding to a movie it means that version most certainly isn’t official. But whether the version of the movie released in theaters or a director’s cut is the official version I just don’t know.
Maybe this whole thing boils down to personal preference at some point?
While watching Lord of the Rings yesterday on TV I thought, “They really lifted a lot from Stephen King’s The Stand for Lord of the Rings here…” Then, of course, I realized the folly of my thinking.
≽ Bert Ehrmann |
November 17th, 2014