Some of my fondest memories growing up are the times I spent at the local arcade. Hours upon hours shooting skeeballs, and wasted quarters in everything from The Simpsons Arcade Machine to Operation Wolf. Arcades, like many things, are unfortunately a thing of the past. So, when the trailers for “Wreck it Ralph” came out, I was ready to ride the nostalgia roller coaster to whatever story Walt Disney Animation Studios had cooked up for me.
Wreck it Ralph, much like Toy Story, starts with the idea that the characters in Arcade Machines have a life beyond being games people play with. Upon their creation, the characters in the game are there to do the task they were programmed to do, and when the arcade closes, they are free to fraternize, and even grab a beer in the Arcade Game “Tapped” (a beer pouring video game). Ralph, voiced by John C. Reilly, is the “bad guy,” in a game called Fix it Felix Jr. Ralph wrecks the residential high rise, and the player, controls Felix Jr. (Jack McBrayer), to, “fix” the high rise, and eventually toss Ralph off the top floor of the complex.
When ‘Tron’ came out from Walt Disney Productions in 1982, must have been quite a sight. Mixing computer generated effects with live action in the scale of the first ‘Tron’ was a major step forward in the types of effects that are quite common place these days.
Does ‘Tron: Legacy’ live up to this standard? As far as anything mind blowing effects wise, I’d say we’ve seen what is at work here before. However, where Tron: Legacy excels is the same way Avatar did, it creates a world that feels very real, and pulls us, the audience in.
Directed by Joseph Kosinski, ‘Tron: Legacy’ is the continued story of ‘Tron,’ and focuses primarily on the son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), Sam Flynn (Garret Hedlund).
Kevin Flynn, the creator of Tron disappeared one night working late at his office, leaving Sam to grow up an orphan, but, also the largest single stock holder for ENCOM, his fathers company. Using his resources, he maintains his fathers legacy, but disrupting and causing trouble to make sure things at the company stay the way his father would have wanted him.
His fathers friend, Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxletiner) comes to Sam to tell him that he received a mysterious page from the old arcade, where his fathers office was. Sam goes to investigate, and finds himself pulled into The Grid, the world his father always spoke of creating. The Grid is in major disarray, and his father, trapped by Clu 2, essentially a clone of Kevin.
If that sounds complicated, it really isn’t. The film does a great job of making the story accessible to all ages (the PG rating helps as well). Also, do no not fret if you haven’t seen the original (or even if its been years). I think the last time I saw the original Tron I was in grammar school, but I was totally attune to what was going on.
The style and production design here is stellar. From the costumes and make up, the architecture of the world. Everything feels real, shots are composed at stark level angles, and the world just broods.
3D doesn’t always work for me, while it worked in ‘Avatar,’ it didn’t in ‘Piranha 3D,’ well the 3D here is great. Much of the real world is in 2D, and things only gain depth once you enter The Grid. I applaud that decision, much like in ‘Wizard of Oz’ when things only are in color in Oz, it separates the two worlds very well.
The music is composed by French duo Daft Punk, and fits the world to the T. I’d listened to the soundtrack prior to the film, but hearing it again in the context of the film was much better.
Garret Hedlund is entertaining and fit for the part of Sam, but the character I really fell in love with was Quora (Olivia Wilde). Wilde has been a favorite of mine for a while, and this film will only push her more into the limelight. She’s more then just a pretty face, Wilde has talent, and hopefully we’ll be seeing more of it. Also, I’ve always been a fan of Jeff Bridges, and seeing him play both a young version of himself (thanks to fancy CG work), and today, was stellar.
The pacing of the film towards the middle was a bit slow, and action sequences were spread out. But this didn’t hurt any part of the enjoyment for me. At its core, this is a fun sci-fi adventure that is great entertainment. Tron: Legacy is a film that can equally be enjoyed by young and old, and definitely a summer popcorn popping blockbuster in the midst of the winter season.
Robert Zemeckis has signed on to direct ‘Dark Life’ for Disney and his company Image Movers. Based on a novel by Kat Falls, ‘Dark Life’ tells the story of a world where the oceans have risen and human civilization packs themselves on the few regions of dryland. As a result, the deep-sea world takes on a wild-west way of life, with underwater inhabitants making a living.
The story follows an underwater farmer who joins a girl from the surface to try and find her missing prospector brother.
The film sounds like a little bit of an underwater western, meets waterworld, meets a pirate movie. I’m definitely intrigued….as long as the film isn’t performance capture. I’ve said it on here before, but I’m dying to see Zemeckis return to live-action. Even if he did it ‘Avatar’ style, with live actors in beautiful CG environments with limited mo-cap.
We’ll be keeping an eye on this one.
At the D23 Expo, (the Disney company’s take on Comic-Con,) on Friday, Disney Chairman Dick Cook announced that a new Pirates of the Caribbean movie will be released summer, 2011. The next movie, (the series’ fourth,) will be sub-titled, “On Stranger Tides.” Johnny Depp also made an appearance at the announcement, dressed as Jack Sparrow. There was no announcement which other characters and actors would be returning for the fourth film.
Hopefully the time away from the series will allow the writers to come up with something interesting and novel. In my opinion, the second film burned off any good-will the first film created within minutes of starting, (something I witnessed firsthand with an audience full of excited kids on opening day,) and the third film was God awful, with the only real action coming from watching the wheels of the plot grind into place. Not a good time. And yet, I really liked the first one. Hopefully they’ll improve things with number four.
One of the big stories yesterday was word that the Walt Disney Company had bought Marvel Entertainment. One of the smaller stories is that Marvel is also considering rebooting their “Fantastic Four” franchise.
Writer Akiva Goldsman scribe for the two worst Batman movies, “Batman & Robin,” and “Batman Forever,” as well as producer of the Will Smith action hero movie “Hancock,” is reportedly overseeing production. Writing will be handled by Michael Green, who writes for “Heroes.” No word on who will be directing this masterpiece.
No word on if the cast (Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, et. all,) will be returning as well.
Why a reboot? Why now? Well, apparently, if you read the fine print of the Disney/Marvel deal, Disney gains the rights to Marvel characters such as “Iron Man,” and “Thor,” Fox, (who made the first two “Fantastic Four” movies,) controls rights to the Four, as long as they keep making movies.
I’ve missed the first two “Fantastic Four” movies, namely because I couldn’t figure out what audience they were for. They seemed too stupid for adults to enjoy and too adult-ish for kids. Maybe this’ll change. Maybe I’ll buy a ticket. Maybe not.
So, Disney is back at it, and they’ve gone back to traditional animation!
Check it out:
Apparently the Disney shareholders meeting went well this week, with a look at Tim Burton’s upcoming ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ The film stars Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter (of course it does). The film will be a mix of CGI and live action, and stars Stephen Fry as the Cheshire Cat, Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen (of course it does…), Anne Hathaway as the White Queen, and Mia Wasikowska as Alice.
Other movies previewed, a 3-D screening of ‘Up,’ and early footage of ‘Toy Story 3.’
Panda’s are big this year (just check out the box office lately), at least Disney thinks so. Walt Disney Studios will be distributing a new Chinese-made movie called “Touch of the Panda.”
A live action film, it is the story of a young panda rescued by an orphan boy. The film is currently in post-production, no word yet on its exact release date.
These types of films are much more interesting then a lot of the fare thats out there for younger-audiences, its good to see Disney going after something that isn’t quite a cash-in type film.