Friday, December 24, 2010

UPDATED: Best Let's Just Get This Over With

December 23 Update: I saw Tron again today. If you're just like me, it's a lot better the second time. I was able to just chill out and watch things zoom around and be shiny. I almost didn't think I could sit through it again, but I sat through quite easily. Maybe it's not so bad?

I've been trying to write a Tron Legacy review and it's been so hard, there's so many ways I could do this: Do I go into detail about how I've dug Tron since I saw it in the theater when I was five? Do I tell about watching Tron with Blake and Cory over Thanksgiving? Do I just go into a bullet point list of things I liked/didn't like? What do I do? What do I do?

How about I just say this: I went into Tron Legacy with non-expectations, I saw a movie that was sometimes exciting, sometimes cool, but most of the time just left me saying "What just happened?" or "Why did they just do that?" And those are the two questions I least want to be asking about a movie! I'm like the number one person to give a genre movie permission to be confusing or convoluted as long as it keeps entertaining me, but as much as I hate to have to say it, so much of Tron Legacy, I just didn't get it . . . not so much meaning I needed what happened on screen to be explained to me, but I wanted the behind the scenes decision making process that lead to what I just saw on screen explained to me. Know what I mean?

Or, in fewer words: Tron Legacy was kind of whack if not just very, very "ehhh."

Bullet point items:
  • The plot progression was kind of exactly the same as the original Tron's, did you notice that?  In some ways this wasn't so much a sequel as a remake.  Son of Flynn has Encom issues, Son of Flynn gets sucked into computer, put in a disc fight, then put in a light cycle fight, busts out of the light cycle arena, goes where the badguys can't get him, learns about the world, meets people, winds up on a Solar Sailer headed for an energy beam, confrontation occurs on the way to the beam, confrontation occurs at the beam, Son of Flynn goes up the beam back to the real world.
  • That said, and I don't want to be the Comic Book Guy fanboy purist, but so much happened that had me saying "That ain't Tron."  With so many nods to and riffs on the original, why did they leave out some of the best stuff LIKE showing Flynn get digitized and descending into the computer world?  Or, seriously, why didn't they use the original Light Cycle boot-up sound effect?  Do you know how much more on board I'd have been with that Light Cycle fight if I had heard that noise?  And the old light cycle gear shifting sound?  And the feel of this new Tron world, I didn't like how real it was, how physical things were.  That the programs held some bar, like an actual bar, and this created their light cycle or light jet . . . I like my light cycles and light jets to come from light.  Or when Son of Flynn is getting outfitted in his computer world get up, I didn't like that it came from drawers and was worn, I like to think of the programs' outfits being as much a part of them as their faces, you know?
  • Speaking of faces!  Do you realize that three times this movie plays the "Ooh, who's behind the helmet?!  What's the surprise identity going to be?" game with us/on us three times?  Three major characters appear with dark helmets on so we have to be all "Oh, who is this mystery person going to be?  What plot twist is about to be twisted on me?"
  • And, ugh, how do I not be all spoilery . . . third secret helmet identity person, could there have been any less payoff from having their identity revealed?  Could a pivotal character played any less pivotal a roll?
  • Don't know if I liked the Ziggy Stardust bar owner guy.  Which means I probably didn't like the Ziggy Stardust bar owner.  Wait!  He had a secret identity, too, didn't he?  In a way, wasn't he our fourth helmet?
  • Okay, what I definitely did like was that there were twists and surprises and sequences I didn't know about at all, that totally surprised me.  I only watched the trailers, though.   Didn't read any articles or reviews.  But to its credit, stuff popped up that I wasn't expecting.
  • Daft Punk cameo: Odd.  Daft Punk score: Sufficient, the IMAX soundsystem was great, would have liked it even louder.  Many of the songs reminded me of Brainwasher from Human After All.
  • Returning to Light Cycles: How do I say this?  They didn't seem as fast as the originals.  And I prefer my light cycles to only be able to make ninety degree turns.  However, when the Rinzler and his posse rolled up for the second round of light cycling, I liked that, it was cool.
  • Re:Light Cycles not being constrained to right angles and perhaps a metaphor for the whole movie: This is how the new light cycle battle made me feel: When the Nintendo 64 came out all the games were suddenly 3D and I couldn't stand them, I just wanted to play a side-scroller, a beautiful side-scroller, I didn't want this new dimension.  Watching the new light cycle, I felt like I was dealing with the N64 when all I needed was an NES.
  • So maybe the conclusion is . . . I've already got my Tron movie, it's called Tron.  And if my nephew and all his friends loved Tron Legacy, then I'm so glad for them.  I don't want to be a hater, I want this to be fresh, but I can't be a liar.  So if it's fresh for you, I'm glad for you.
  • BUT If they make a Tron sequel where the bad guys do escape into our world THAT version of the Lost World I do would want to see.  I'd let light cycles go any direction they wanted down the 405, I'd be thrilled to watch light jets zipping between our skyscrapers.
  • Speaking of light jets: like the Iron Man armor, it turns out you can only take them so high up.
  • And what I did like was the Tron-ified Cinderella's Castle Disney Logo, that was cool.
  • Wait!  Wait!  So who paged Son of Flynn?  And how?  And for what purpose?  Because Clu seems a little surprised that he's shown up.  Do you think he could have told his Recognizers "Listen, if anyone shows up stumbling out of the Flynns Arcade we have here in Tron-world (which was weird), would you let me know right away?"
  • And . . . so, at the end of the movie, where are we?  Kind of back where we started, right?
I'm just going to stop.  Go see Tron Legacy if you want, I can't stop you, I wouldn't even try to.  It could be that now that I know what I'm going to be dealing with I'd do well to see it a second time?  Maybe I'll do that for $4.50 in Chicago.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's Always Better on Holiday VI, pt. 10: A Bunch of Wild Animals

First of all, welcome to my 1999th post. I'm putting the blog on a hiatus until I'm ready to upload the 2000th post, a post I've been working on for six months now. With luck the desire to blog about other things (such as last week's amazing episode of FNL or my dinner at Frankies two weeks ago) will be enough to get that post finally finished.

Moving on . . .

It wouldn't be right to head off for Christmas vacation without finishing my posts from Thanksgiving vacation, right? So I now present to you the day we spent at the Lincoln Park Zoo!

Where we parked there was this statue.

It was a cold and windy winter Chicago day, but not that cold and windy.

The animals were all feeling real lively.

Hey Lion.

Ellie growling at tiger.

Welcome to the Monkey House.

Where's the monkeys?

Oh, here we go.


This gorilla was taking paper up into his tree.

White Lipped Deer with great big horns.

Napping wild kitten.

Family gathered outside and snacking, capturing rare instances of lens flare.

A conversation:
"Those aren't real ice."
"Yes they are."
"Then why aren't they melting?"
"They are melting."

Welcome to the Penguin House.

And after this picture my M8 battery was dead.  So, Santa, if you want more pictures of Grandkids, you know what to get me.

With my little Canon I captured the family Carouseling . . .

And indoor jungle maze climbing.  I'll admit some jealousy of not being able to climb myself, but then again, there wasn't a sign that said no adults allowed.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Best Friday Videos

Haven't been posting much for a few reasons, one of which is I've been too busy watching internet videos.  Here are some of them.

First and foremost, Collin made a new Christmas movie.

Second and secondmost, I've been watching and rewatching the trailer for Terrence Malick's new movie, the Tree of Life. This makes me dizzy, both literally and with anticipation. But if you're really going to watch this trailer, you ought to watch in it HD via Apple.

And then, of course, there's the 30 Most Important Cats of 2010.

Thirdly, yesterday I watched the Fast and the Furious 5 trailer because I figured I had nothing to lose. Big surprise: Liked it a lot. Question: If I watch this movie, will I have no idea what's going on since I've never seen a Fast and the Furious movie before? Will there be too much backstory and character development for me to follow what's sure to be a complex plot unfold before me? (This one also benefits from an HD viewing at Apple).

And then, of course, there's the 30 Most Important Cats of 2010, which really deserves to be a post of its own, or a paragraph highlighted by a lot of stars and exclamation points, but instead just sits down here like a lazy kitten.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Best Reason to Cross the Hudson

Friday night my favorite movie theater (the Loew's Jersey Theatre) was playing my favorite movie (Muppets Take Manhattan) so a PATH train ride was a must.

The Loews Jersey is a beautiful old movie palace restored and run by volunteers. They show movies there about once a month, popcorn is a dollar, you can't beat this place and I want to show you some pictures of it.

This is what it looked like after the movie ended and they raised the screen--the giant speakers that had been blasting Kermit and Piggy's voices at us all night.

The organ--before each show there's a dude playing it and they lower him into the earth when the movie starts. You can't beat this place.

Looking back.  This place is gigantic, and there's a balcony, too.

Looking up.

Also looking up.

Looking back.

Heading upstairs.

This is the Men's room.  I can only imagine what the Ladies room looks like.

Chandelier and lobby.

Chandelier and lobby, unobstructed.

This organ you can't touch.  So maybe I could have touched the other one?

More upstairs.

Steven and Jeff, discussing Muppets with excitement.

For the record, before the movie Cher and I had Filipino food there in the neighborhood.  It started out pretty well, grew more challenging towards the end.  Very authentic, though.  That's my guess.