i couldn't help myself: 80's nostalgia got the better of me. i broke down and saw tron today in harvard square.
it wasn't a spur of the moment thing, mind you: i knew i was going to see the movie the moment i saw the trailer. i actually purchased the ticket online a few nights ago, although unfortunately in my haste i bought a senior citizen ticket instead of an adult ticket. but the prices for the two were the same, so i felt like i could talk my way out of it should they ask me for an id to validate my senior citizen status.
it was the matinee time but not the matinee price; it might have something to do with the fact that the movie was in 3D, so the theatre charges an additional amount. i ended up paying just $7.25 because i managed to snag a $5 discount online. the girl working behind the counter didn't hassle me when i showed her my printed age-inappropriate e-ticket. they were screening the movie upstairs in the smaller theatre room (i'm assuming they'll show it in the larger downstairs theatre room tonight when most of the customers will show up). there was about a dozen people who showed up for the 1:00 screening; most were men, i'm guessing in their 30's, with various degrees of male-patterned baldness. the couple of young women who showed up came with dates. i went downstairs when i realized i never got a pair of 3D glasses. back upstairs, i saw an overweight gentleman fishing for a pair in the glasses recycle bin. he was obviously sneaking into the screening, and didn't want to draw attention to himself by getting a new pair from the ushers.
the movie began with a slew of comic book movie trailers: green hornet. green lantern. thor. cowboys and aliens. and a few CGI animations: mars need moms. cars 2. all of them in 3D, all of them look terrible. i know 3D is a way for studios to justify charging more per ticket, but it's gimmicky and distracts from the movie itself. i would never knowingly subject myself to a 3D movie unless i had no other choice (the theatre wasn't showing a non-3D version of tron).
the actual movie began with a disclaimer saying that some of the movie was intentionally shot in 2D, and that during those scenes, it's normal not to see 3D. i guess they did that because the start of the film takes place in the drab real world, and they didn't want paying customers complaining that they weren't getting their money's worth.
i'm going to come right out and say it: the story is actually pretty awful. if i was to summarize the film with keywords, it'd be: father-son relationship, getting back home, computer people holocaust, evil twin, world domination. arena style combat. i guess parsed out like that, the movie doesn't seem to bad, but when you actually watch the film, you'll realize it's not a very compelling or engaging storyline.
apart from the awful story, once we enter tron world, it's a feast for the eyes. everything is glass accentuated by shiny strips of light. this world is vast and cold and clean. everyone is beautiful and wear sexy skin-tight outfits. there is always techno music in the background always. it's like being in a trendy latex fetish club (not from personal experience, just from what i see on tv). i rather live in 3D tron world than 3D avatar world (that other 3D movie i saw last year). that whole first sequence when sam flynn (the protagonist and son of kevin flynn) is sucked into the tron world and then processed for disc fighting, i was on the edge of my seat. not because of the suspense, but because everything on screen was so beautiful.
it's during this time we meet quorra, played by olivia wilde. the whole movie could've been about sam and quorra hanging out in tron world and i'd totally watch it. quorra is a bad ass, but she never does anything so bad ass as to make a mark for herself in the pantheon of bad ass female scifi characters (she's no trinity from the matrix is what i'm saying). in the movie it sounded like her name was "cora" so when i found out it was actually "quorra," i figured that had some kind of special programming or computer related meaning. "quorra" in fact has no meaning, unless it's a derivation of quorum, the minimum number of people to have a meeting.
garrett hedlund is adequate as sam flynn, although he's the least memorable character. he does do something cool at the beginning of the film, when he hacks into his father's old company, but there isn't enough backstory to make me think he'd become such a warrior in the tron world (does he play video games in real life? who knows. is a he a good fighter? beats me. all we know is he likes to take risks and rides his motorcycle really fast through traffic).
there's something else that's pretty awful about tron: CGI jeff bridges! having survived the bridge-a-thon this year, i figured there wasn't anything jeff bridges related that i couldn't withstand. however, i was wrong! i don't deny the complexity of technology used to create a young bridges (as the character clu, kevin flynn's evil tron world twin), but i've yet seen a movie where they've successfully computer generated a human being that actually looks real. it's probably about 90%+ like jeff bridges, but the missing percentages make the character look kind of creepy and fake. which may be the intended effect, since clu does exist in the tron world, but they also use CGI jeff bridges in some real world clips as well, and it's just disarmingly unnatural. actors, sleep soundly tonight knowing that computers still aren't 100% successful in generating CGI likenesses of you!
not to be nitpicky, but here's something else that bothered me: the movie is called tron (or tron: legacy, or tron 2.0), but the character tron plays an inconsequential part in the film, almost like the writers just shoehorned him in since the movie is named after him. and almost for the entirety of the film, the character tron is wearing a helmet so you can't even be sure it's really tron (played by bruce boxleitner). makes me think that maybe they only had enough to do a CGI bridge, and couldn't afford to do a full CGI boxleitner as well.
oh, just one more thing: did ducati have a product placement deal with the filmmakers? the motorcycle is featured prominently throughout the beginning of the film, so much so that in a scene between sam and alan bradley, the motorcycle brand can be clearly seen in the background. as if that wasn't enough, towards the end of the film, kevin asks his son sam, "how's the ducati?" it's obvious enough to be more than suspicious. i didn't stick around to watch the final credits to see if ducati is mentioned as a "silent" partner.
then there's a break in the film midway through when father and son are reunited in the barren outskirts of tron city. that's when i started to get bored. jeff bridges play the older kevin flynn as an aging hippy. there were hints of the dude from the big lebowksi that i began hoping some editing genius would create a mashup of the two films. despite winning an academy award, i think bridges is phoning in his performance in tron. not like the movie requires any serious acting, but i get the feeling he did the film primarily for the paycheck (like when he did iron man, and then bashed the film).
the filmmakers brought back bridges and boxleitner, but what about cindy morgan, AKA yori? from her wikipedia page, she still looks good. i'd have loved to see her back on the big screen. double standards!
once the team returns to tron city for the final third of the film, things pick up again. we meet the proprietor of a trendy bar played by michael sheen with a blonde hairstyle that's reminiscent of julian assange, the wikileaker. we're also officially introduced to gem, played by beau garrett, who if you haven't seen the movie, you'll be googling for images of her afterwards in her crazy tight tron outfit (i saw her on a talk show where she said it took 4 hours to get dressed into her tron suit).
the movie ends on a happy note (my favorite kind of ending) and leaves the possibility of eventual sequels should the film do well at the box office.
i think the movie is worth seeing if you're a fan of the original tron. the story is crap but the tron world is cool. it's worth seeing just to see tron world 2.0. not sure how much money it'll make this weekend, but i don't think it has the longevity to be a big hit. kids will naturally see it (it is rated only PG after all) and buy the toys, but i think many adults might pass unless they're original tron fans.
i worked this morning then left in the early afternoon to go see the movie. coming back, i bicycled to the local walgreens to buy a stick of brut deodorant ($1.64). when i was younger, i remember my father had some brut cologne. i always thought that was a very masculine scent and wanted to try it out. it smelled just the way i remembered it, with a very strong alcohol base.
i did a bit more coding when i got back home before calling it a day. with the client hot for a build that's 100% free of bugs (or at least very close to it), i'll need to do some work this weekend as well. it's going to be a rough 2 weeks to christmas and new year.
i watched another cult movie in the evening, scream for help (1984). i caught a few minutes of it as a 11-year-old kid back in 1985 on HBO and it left such a strong impression on me that 25 years later i finally managed to track down the film and see it in its entirety. the plot follows a teenage girl who believes her handsome stepfather is actually planning to kill her mother. she spends the first part of the movie following him around, including a bicycle chase scene tailing his car that takes place over the course of several days because she keeps on losing him. she enlists the aid of friends and seem to make matters worse when nobody believes her story. the movie has an afterschool special feel to it which disguises the fact of just how subversive it is. i don't want to say too much because i don't want to spoil all the surprises, but scream for help is probably one of the best movies i've seen all this year.
i just had a banana for breakfast and some ramen later in the evening for dinner. i weighed myself today, i'm down to 130 lbs, which is about as light as i ever get.
my roommate came home around 10:00 after his last day at the office. his return flight to spain leaves tuesday afternoon (originally i thought it was wednesday, but he made a mistake when he told me 3 months ago). he finally retrieved the hawaiian sand from his friend roberto. i took a little bit, the rest he'll divide amongst friends back at home. the sand was from waikiki and was still wet from where he pulled it from the shore. having never been to hawaiian before, the first thing i noticed about the sand were the little black flecks. closer inspection revealed that the sand is actually little pieces of ground up debris. compared that to sand i've collected from the north shore, which looks more grains of salt combined with white ground pepper.