Archive for January, 2011

CPAP Night 1 recap

Last night was my first night on CPAP therapy. I really don’t want to go into all the details of how this works. Suffice it to say, CPAP is a face mask that pushes air into your system under pressure while you sleep.

The idea is that with the right amount of Air Flow you won’t snore or worse choke in the middle of the night repeatedly to prevent you from getting balanced sleep.

My CPAP is set at 15 (psi?). That is a LOT of air being pushed at you. (And I’ve just realised that I think I left my headphones at work. This digression will be obvious shortly.) It feels very unnatural but fortunately, there is a ‘ramp up’ button on the device that starts you at 4 and then works up to 15 over 20 minutes. (I wish it were more like 45 minutes)

With Hose to mask to face I started it up last night. Unfortunately, thanks to a 4 yr old spending the weekend sneezing on me. I was also congested. I went to bed with one nostril blocked from congestion and the irrational belief of the sick person that as a result, only one lung was getting filled.

I must have snoozed the CPAP back down to 4 at least 4 times. And after about an hour of not being able to catch my breath and breathe at the same time. The CPAP went off. This was good because the CPAP breathing noises were driving me nuts. (Oh yes… Headset)

I am not daunted.. but I’m even more congested tonight. So this first week is going to be very slow going. I’m going to take a pseudophedrine this evening before bed. But that is also likely to wind me up.

Such high aspirations had I. Well, to use a tautology worthy of the great Yogi Berra, the only way I’m going to post more is to post more.

I’ve subscribed to a few ‘Blogging motivation’ feeds (Gosh that sounds sad) and am signing up for PostADay2011.

Now, I have a horrible tendency to grab off more than I will pull off. So I am in fact signing up for PostAWeek2011 with the hope and intent of working up to more than one post a week.

I have some post ideas that I’ll put up separately.

As for why I don’t seem to be posting; I think that comes down the fact that once again… grabbing more than I can pull off. I don’t like a half-assed, half-writen post. But I’m too eager to get something out there.

So.. I have to state as much as I can and then put in millions of links (which seem both relevant and humourous to me), hope that people will click the links and see the humour where appropriate. And of course then push it out without the proofreading guidance of my amazing spouse.

I have my over-linked and over-winded post. It is in need of grammar repair. It is in need of an audience which is unlikely to comment. Ah the fun if it all.

So.. as always I put out what comes to mind and see what happens next..

Aside: I’m seriously thinking of renaming my blog “Poor, little-neglected bastion of rare opinion.”

Yes, this review is chocked full of spoilers. I’ve marked where the spoilers begin; so I’m going to assume that anyone who’s opinion I care about has either seen “Tron:Legacy” or will have the intelligence to Bookmark this post and come back to it after they’ve seen it.

A bit of background. Tron (The original film) came out in 1982. For the record, I was 14 and a video game addict. I had received my first computer (an Apple ][ in 1979). I as using a modem by 1980. I was writing software (Well, if code written in Basic can be called software) by 1981. You can do the math from there. The film… “may” … have had an influence on me.

It is now nearly 30 years later. I have worked for Symantec (The Norton Folk), Microsoft (who I’m under contract to say nothing bad about), and EarthLink (The no we’re not scientologists anymore folk) Of course I look less like Kevin Flynn and more like “Tron Guy” without the penchant for trying to fit into electrical tape spandex.

It should be no surprise that I did in fact go to see “Tron: Legacy” on opening weekend.

So, the short form first, then the slightly longer than short, and then I’ll draw it all out.

The short form: I loved it.
The slightly longer than short: It was exactly what it needed to be.

Taking into account that the three years of promotion for this film this film had to either hit a target or die gloriously. Granted, the three years at Comic-con (now the longest film teaser in history) was really a showcase of special effects ideas to gauge the audience, followed by a REALLY short shooting schedule with an incomplete script and a BUTT LOAD of post-production.

Spoilers lie ahead from this point.

You couldn’t simply start a fresh story. You need to know what happened to Kevin Flynn. Coming out of Tron you get a “They lived happily ever after.” Well, okay, they don’t include Dillinger who pretty much gets the corporate boot up his ass for theft, plagiarization, and corporate thievery. But not so much that his son doesn’t land on the board. (No, no plans at all for that character; unh-uh.. nope.. BTW: I have a bridge to sell you).

Flynn, was not going to simply walk away from the Grid. Now the absent father and orphaned boy thing is old. It’s tried… at times it’s tired. And of course, orphan boy grows up to be delinquent wünderkind. Yes, I’m looking at you Chris (I’m not Shatner) Pine. But hey, if they could reboot Kirk’s Girdle with the plot; why not the reboot the… (You know, I’m just not going to go for that pun. I am not going to use “Reboot” with Tron.)

When Tron came out it was bleeding edge technology being forced into a story. This time is was a story being forced into the bleeding age of technology. Interestingly, the bleeding edge wasn’t the CGI sets, backgrounds, costumes, or games. It was giving us a young Jeff Bridges.

The facial motion capture that scared children in Polar Express; that created neurotic N’avi wannabe’s in Avatar; and aged Brad Pitt in … whatever movie that was that aged Brad Pitt; attempted to give us a look back at Kevin Flynn circa original Tron. Fortunately, unlike every other film; they had source material to draw from. UNFORTUNATELY, unlike every other film; they had source material to draw from.

The de-aging of Kevin Flynn for the character of Clu (which I suppose should actually have been named Clu 2.0… Or perhaps Clu Vista due to his expectations vs. performance) has been a hotly debated thing. Actually, in all the reviews I’ve read, it’s the number one debated issue about the film. I read a lot of: “Blah Blah, plot whatever” “Blah Blah, soundtrack vs. story” “Blah Blah, action porn vs. Message porn.” “Blah Blah HOLY F*#^ Olivia Wilde is HAWT!” (okay… maybe not so much debate over that one at all)… But the one that keeps showing up is “De-aged Jeff Bridges as CLU”

You know, when one effect is what people keep talking about… I’d call that a win. So does Clu escape the ever popular Uncanny-Valley? I personally think he spends the entire film stumbling on the edge. And to me, this is perfect. The grid isn’t real. The grid is an extension of our technology and even in his box for 30 odd years, Kevin Flynn is still a genius at what he does. So, if Clu isn’t entirely ‘right’ then that fits both the story and that character.

But enough of that specific debate.

There is one issue that I would like to soap box about. Some people have said that the movie’s problem is that it should either be an action flick or a message movie. This comment really upsets me. A few years ago a film company set out to destroy a classic piece of science fiction and yet retain the name “Rollerball.” They decided that then needed to “Drop the silly political stuff” and amp up the action. Personally, I think that Science Fiction is suffering from this new trend in “Action Porn.” Let’s have a paper thin plot so people can rent the movie and then fast forward to the “good bits” Good Science Fiction is telling the human story in a fantastical world. The action parts have far more power when they are backed by the passion of a human story. I love the new “V” but I truly miss the original linking it to the Jewish Holocaust. When in doubt: Bradbury and Asimov did it right.

Yes, the plot has holes (as author Cherie Priest puts it very well) that are mighty enough to not let light escape. Honestly, to me the hardest thing to watch was realizing that Tron:2 was Highlander:3. “Well, Gosh. We’re really not sure what to do; so let’s just keep a major character on ice the entire time and then pretty much just repeat the plot of the original maybe amping things up a notch in places.”

I may have mentioned short shooting schedule with an unfinished script. Disney actually took the nearly finished product to the Docter (sic). (Okay bad pun) They took the nearly finished film to the Pixar group and said, “It may be broke, please help fix.” Disney, honestly seemed to have as much faith going ‘into’ the project as they did with the original. “Wow, you guys are really passionate, and we know there are fans, but can we make something people will actually get and help us pay it back?”

So, we over look the holes in the script and look at what there was. Aging hippy Kevin Flynn. Bridges was the best thing in this movie hands down. Digital Clu was annoying at places but it fit as a reflection of a young hippy genius that’d had a mild taste of megalomania. Aging Flynn was even better. You could honestly see the childlike joy of the original Kevin Flynn tempered by sadness, loss, and an effort to make peace with his condition.

In some ways, I sort of look at this film as tied a little to Much Ado. Hero and Claudius are pretty much wood. While watching the dance between Beatrice and Benedict is where the real meat is. Okay.. the analogy makes sense in my head. Sam Flynn is one of those characters that probably could have been played by any of the current beau-hunks that are out there. I think Chris Pine was even considered for the role. Olivia Wilde… yes, she was poured into the outfit and is one of the current hot women out there. I’m a geek, I think I would have of course preferred Summer Glau. Because she will always kick ass better than any 10 female actresses out there except perhaps Helen Mirren in RED. But I waaaaaaay digress.

Now, the new characters worth mentioning: Rinzler and Castor/Zuse. I managed to not be spoiled. (Yes, big spoilers coming) Despite being a fan of Tron; despite having seen the film countless times; despite owning in on DVD… I utterly missed the fact that Rinzler had a T on his chest. I was completely surprised. But then again, I LOVE it when the obvious is right in front of you. I missed that Quorra was an Iso. I was there to enjoy the ride and not think. I let the story (what there was of it carry me) Rinzler was a great example of helping to clarify plot issues including some that go back to the previous film. The colours and the concept of “Repurposing a program.” I enjoy when information makes me want to rewatch a film or especially its predecessor. Rinzler’s redemption is fantastically paced and really whets the appetite for another film. (Perhaps even further misnamed “Tron”)

Castor/Zuse. My incredible spouse, wife, life-partner, socially conscious goddess the @livingartist pointed out to me a major flaw with this character that I absolutely agree with. In “Tron”, director Steven Lisberger admits to being guilty of “casting a Brit as a villain.” This type of British=Evil mentality of American filmmakers is the top contributing reason that actor Terrance Stamp left the American industry. Remember Terrance Stamp, from General Zod to Bernadette in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Castor/Zuse is the current incarnation of this. The current incarnation is however (I feel) far more dangerous. Now the turncoat/morally ethical character is also flouting gender norms. Yes, Castor/Zuse is “Male” but flamboyant, eccentric, and a touch effeminate; and as a result… not really trustable. This is occurring in several mainstream films (Fifth Element). Apart from that major glitch… the entire, “I’m the big guy’s right hand… oh wait; I’m the rest of the big guy too.” I really hate that. That’s the kind of thing that needs to be set up for at least half a movie to have any worth.

The film was made (like all good reboots) for bringing in new people and appeasing the old fans. There are so many nods to the old film that you really do have to watch it twice to catch them all. It was said that you need to get this on BluRay just to catch all the Easter eggs in Flynn’s office and Sam’s boyhood bedroom. (Yes, I had the light cycle pillow) There was even a big door (though not as big as the original one.) Also, watch for the “Dumont” sign over Sam’s apartment. I think the only thing missing was a “Ram” tribute somewhere in the Grid.

One person on twitter said the only improvement they’d make to the grid was a random character walking around saying, “HELLO WORLD” to everyone they met. I like this.

In general, this film gives the hope that with a good script (Paging Mr. Whedon or 80% of the staff at Pixar) that a Tron film can now come out that has the technology and the story to give us something that will last for a VERY long time.

Was it too deep or bloated in placed? Sure. Was it pretty with a fun soundtrack? Sure. Was it a sleeper that people will go see and likely go back to and then buy on DVD. I think so. With a budget of $170(M) and a Gross of $258(M) in under 25 days. I think we can pretty well expect another installment. This time we probably won’t have a 30-year wait.

Kudos Disney and Joseph Kosinski

Final rating time. (And not just because I want the extra 50 words to round me out to a 2,000 page book report) See this in the cinema. See it on the big screen. The BIG, big screen. This film has specifically been designed to take advantage of the IMAX ratio, digital 3-D projection and surround sound system. See it multiple times and take others to see it.