Film Review: TRON: Legacy (2010)

Also known as: TR2N, TRON 2.0 (working titles), TRON 2 (informal title)
Release Date: November 30th, 2010 (Tokyo premiere)
Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
Written by: Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz, Brian Klugman, Lee Sternthal
Based on: characters by Steven Lisberger, Bonnie MacBird
Music by: Daft Punk
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner, James Frain, Beau Garrett, Michael Sheen, Daft Punk (cameo), Steven Lisberger (cameo), Cillian Murphy (uncredited)

Walt Disney Pictures, Sean Bailey Productions, John Thomas Special FX, 125 Minutes

Review:

“Life has a way of moving you past wants and hopes.” – Kevin Flynn

It took a really long time for TRON to get a sequel but I was glad that it did, even if this film wasn’t quite what I’d expected.

Compared to the original, this film is incredibly polished. But that’s also due to 28 years of special effects advancement and the use of modern CGI, which didn’t exist in nearly the same way in 1982.

That being said, this is a beautiful and fine looking motion picture. However, despite its enchanting otherworldlyness, it kind of lacks the spirit and magic that was present in the original film. Call me old but I prefer the primitive effects and matte paintings, as well as the simple digital 3D models.

Before ever seeing footage of this film, I had hoped that the filmmakers would maintain the look of the original. I understand why they didn’t, as it might not appeal to a new generation but this film feels like too much of a jump aesthetically.

Now even though the CGI within the computer world looks solid, it was actually done pretty poorly in the real world sequences. Primarily those that featured old actors with their faces de-aged to look like they did almost thirty years earlier.

For the most part, I liked the story in this film. It was a good logical future for where the previous movie ended up. The only thing that I wasn’t crazy about is that the real world stuff in the beginning was too dragged out.

Although, I like that this doesn’t show you the computer world until the protagonist is sucked into it. I wish the original film wouldn’t have shown the computer world almost immediately, as saving the reveal to be the exact moment where the hero arrives, astounded by his surroundings, has a sort of Wizard of Oz colorization effect.

The film is also full of colorful characters and everyone does pretty well with their roles. I especially liked Michael Sheen’s over the top, Bowie-esque performance. But with everyone being really good and having a lot of personality, sadly, Garrett Hedlund’s Sam was pretty dry and boring. I don’t think that’s necessarily Hedlund’s fault, as his character was written as a straightman type, but he was overshadowed by just about everyone else, which doesn’t make for an exciting protagonist.

While TRON: Legacy doesn’t blow my socks off, I did like it enough to hope that the film series would rage on for years. Right now, it looks like that’s not going to happen but as long as Disney owns the brand, it will eventually get a sequel, a remake or a reboot.

I didn’t even mention the score because do I need to? Everyone’s heard it, everyone loves it and you can’t avoid one of Daft Punk’s songs from this movie creeping into every station on Pandora.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: it’s predecessor, the original TRON, as well as the animated series, TRON: Uprising.

TV Review: Good Omens (2019)

Original Run: May 31st, 2019 – current
Created by: Neil Gaiman
Directed by: Douglas Mackinnon
Written by: Neil Gaiman
Based on: Good Omens by Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman
Music by: David Arnold
Cast: Michael Sheen, David Tennant, Sam Taylor Buck, Adria Arjona, Michael McKean, Miranda Richardson, Jack Whitehall, Jon Hamm, Frances McDormand (voice), Nick Offerman, Mireille Enos, Brian Cox (voice), David Morrissey, Johnny Vegas, Benedict Cumberbatch (voice)

Narrativia, The Blank Corporation, Amazon Studios, BBC Studios, 6 Episodes (so far), 51-58 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

When I first saw that Michael Sheen and David Tennant were in a show together, I knew I’d have to watch it. There was absolutely no doubt about that.

Then once I put it on and the episodes started rolling, I was really excited to see and hear Jon Hamm, Nick Offerman, Frances McDormand, Michael McKean, Miranda Richardson, Brian Cox, David Morrissey and Benedict Cumberbatch. We also got Mireille Enos in maybe her coolest role of all-time.

Needless to say, this six episode television show, which I hope lives on beyond one very short season, is chock full of immense talent. And that includes the cast members that are lesser known. Everyone on this show carries their weight and no one drags ass.

This was created by Neil Gaiman, based off of a novel he wrote almost thirty years ago with Terry Pratchett. I’ve never read the book but I might have to check it out now, based off of how cool this show is.

Now Good Omens isn’t perfect but I also don’t care that it’s not. It’s engaging, very, very human and it challenges its own subject matter, giving its audience hope for something more than the simple doom and gloom of an eventual biblical Armageddon. However, I’m an atheist but I know that most people aren’t and that some of what’s featured on this show is very real to them.

Sure, this is comedic, dramatic and fantastical but it exposes some of the very things that I’ve always questioned about the Christian mythos. As I was brought up very religiously, I had questions and doubts that I never felt got satisfactory answers and I was never really allowed to even have doubts or question the authority that dictated these things to me. So I’m glad that this show puts it all out there.

The production is stellar, the show looks great, its well acted, well written, has great pacing and good direction.

My only real concern is that I hope it can maintain its quality if this goes on for longer. But I also feel that it needs too. The story of this season is concluded within the six episodes but it opens the doors to a lot of new things going forward.

But since this seems to be a big hit for Amazon and the BBC, I’m pretty sure we’ll get new episodes of Good Omens for at least a few more years.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: What We Do In the Shadows, American Gods and Lucifer.

Film Review: Passengers (2016)

Release Date: December 14th, 2016 (Regency Village Theatre Premiere)
Directed by: Morten Tyldum
Written by: Jon Spaihts
Music by: Thomas Newman
Cast: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Andy García

LStar Capital, Village Roadshow Pictures, Wanda Pictures, Original Film, Company Films, Start Motion Pictures, Columbia Pictures, 116 Minutes

passengers-2016Review:

Passengers sees Chris Pratt, one of my favorite up and coming actors, team up with Jennifer Lawrence, someone I actually haven’t seen a lot of but everyone else seems to love. It also stars Michael Sheen, who is generally fun to watch, and Lawrence Fishburne, who I’ve been a fan of since A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Andy Garcia makes a quick appearance, as well.

One thing I will say, is that the trailers don’t seem to get the film’s balance right. I thought this would be more of a space action thriller. The bulk of the story deals with the romance between Pratt’s Jim and Lawrence’s Aurora. In fact, the romance is the entire driving force of the movie. Sure, you want them to succeed and save the 5000 other sleeping people on the ship but you never even realize that they are in mortal danger until 80 percent of the way into the picture.

Now this isn’t a knock, I enjoyed the romance part of the film and thought it was well-handled and executed. I just feel that the film sold itself on false pretenses. Some teenagers in the theater looked bored as hell over halfway into the movie. This isn’t a bad movie, by any means, it just isn’t what most people will be expecting and that’s the fault of marketing. Then again, maybe they just wanted asses in seats and knew that they wouldn’t get as many, if Passengers was billed as a romance movie.

There is still a lot of science fiction. There is also a lot of suspense. There is even a bit of action. Ultimately, it has a lot of things going for it and there is something here for most audiences.

The most standout thing about the film is the acting. Pratt and Lawrence were both superb and had fantastic chemistry with one another. When shit hit the fan, as an audience, your heart was breaking with them. You wanted these two people to figure things out, even if the situation they found themselves in was damn near irreparable.

The main issue with the movie, is that it is too predictable. While that seems to be the norm with big budget motion pictures these days, playing it safe and giving the audience what they want doesn’t always serve the picture in a positive way. The plot did have a few curveballs, here and there, but nothing to really keep you on your toes or to take you by surprise.

Strangely, Passengers feels like a serious and romantic version of the great television show Red Dwarf. A guy wakes from suspended animation, he’s the only one initially on the ship, he is traveling in deep space – light years from Earth, he has a robot confidant, he has malfunctioning repair robots and vending machines, then he finds himself having a rocky relationship with his other travel companion. The only thing it is missing is a humanoid cat wearing pimp clothes.

I did like the movie. I just don’t know if it is something I will ever want to watch again. However, it was at least entertaining on a day where I had nothing else to do.

Rating: 6/10