Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tron is Messin' with my Zen, Man

Things were different back then. it was 1982. Atari 2600 was the rage. There was trouble in the Middle East. Coke vs. Pepsi was a big debate, as was coke vs. heroin. I was six years-old, and I was mesmerized by Disney's Tron. Well, admittedly, I was mesmerized by the blue and red light bulbs that people seemed to be wearing and the really cool light-cycles. The rest of it went way over my head.

My, how things have changed. Sure, Atari is not the rage anymore, but I pretty use my Wii to play those same old games. And Tron: Legacy was cool for the light-cycles and the rest went pretty much over my head. For example, was Jeff Bridges trying to recreate The Dude from The Big Lebowski or is that just the way he acts nowadays?

I have been trying to be less critical of movies lately, and I think overall I've done well (and I actually think seeing fewer movies helps), so when I first heard that they were doing a sequel to Tron, I thought, "Another silly re-make? Forget it." Then I saw some trailers, and I thought it looked pretty cool. Remember, kids; always trust your instincts.

But, Durs, didn't it look cool, you may be thinking. And, sure, the light-cycles, the Matrix-esque fighting with glowing frisbees, the return of the big horse-shoe ships were all very fun. But we have video games for that kind of thing. Come on, including the 3-D glasses, do you want to spend $13 on half of a movie? The rest of it was just a lot of talking about things that actually don't exist (also similar to The Matrix, without the crappy philosophy), and I'm not sure why we should care what happens in the "Tron World" for that very reason: it doesn't actually exist. What are the stakes except that The Dude may not survive long enough to drink another White Russian? And, sure there are movies with less at stake, but if you can make the audience care about these things, then you've written a decent movie. Tron: Legacy front-loaded all the cool stuff in the first 45 minutes or so, then spent a long time explaining what was going on while over dinner.

I think I know the thinking here. Much like the Wall Street sequel earlier this year, coming on the heels of economic turmoil, the folks at Disney probably thought that since we are in this new digital age, the time is ripe for a Tron sequel. The whole Grid thing, and all of us essentially being Programs or Users these days lends it self to the story of Tron. But no. It's a different world now. The games we play on our phones are better than the original Tron effects, which was done mostly with paint and canvas, by the way. For all that talk about Tron being the first movie to use CGI, only about 15 minuets of the film are computer animated, because the technology didn't exist yet to combine digital animation with real-life characters. Not to mention that that the computers they used had only 2 MB of memory. I think that there's more than that in a pen these days. Point is, our standards for what is cool and what technology can and should do have changed. I'm not sure lighty frisbees cuts it anymore. It seems to me that these people were so concerned on whether or not they could make a better Tron movie, that they didn't stop to think if they should (or, y'know, write a script.) We have conquered that digital frontier already, Dude. I don't think we need to hear about it again. If I'm interested, I'll just read about it on someone's blog.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Formula

My roommate and I were flipping channels recently and stopped on Sleepless in Seattle (which I had never actually seen). While I did find Tom Hanks to be somewhat amusing, the Romantic Comedy Formula got to me after awhile. Until, I actually realized that Sleepless in Seattle actually pretty much invented the formula. Unless you go back to It Happened One Night, which still does it way better than any movie ever.

The problem with The Formula is that I believe it has ruined most Americans view of how courtships and relationships should probably be. And, I know this sounds awful but I'm gonna say it anyway, I think at least 85% of women fall victim to this. Maybe it's just people I talk to, but I know several single women who constantly complain about why the dude they are into is just sitting on his hands every day, even though they claim to have sent out all the "signals."

There is the problem, as I once detailed in a long-since deleted blog post aptly titled "Lloyd Dobler is a Made-Up Person." For those who may not know, Lloyd Dobler is the name of the character played by John Cusack in Say Anything, the guy who held his boom box over his head, playing Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" to impress Ione Skye. The sad thing? It worked, and they flew off to London together, despite being 18 years-old.

Thing is, movies like this fill people with the silly idea that these things can/may/will happen to them. That is why my single female friends send out signals, but don't actually do anything. They are waiting for the dude to sweep them off their feet. That's not horrible in itself, but the dude is probably thinking, "Man, I don't want to make a mistake and look stupid." I'm a man and I'm all for taking charge, but there seems to be an honesty gap here, which is not necessarily due to Tom Hanks and John Cusack, but they certainly haven't helped.