Tron: Legacy Sequel On The Way!

I’ve been saying that there would be a sequel to Tron: Legacy for the longest time–despite the fact that the Joseph Kosinski-directed sequel to 1979’s Tron was pretty uneven and didn’t actually make all that much money, relatively speaking.

It earned $400 million on a $170 million budget, which isn’t by any means a failure, but hardly Transformers money.  Then again, it must have been enough, because we’re getting a sequel!

Supposedly, the title is going to be Tron: Ascension, and while at the moment it remains hidden who’s going to be doing the ascending, I think it works much, much better than the title of the prior filming the series.

Though what I hope it brings back–besides Wendy Carlos–is the sense of innovation that the original film possessed.

And speaking of the original, it was a remarkable film in many ways, though like its sequel it had a storyline that was not nearly as interesting as its special effects.

Here’s to hoping that the third time around is the charm.

Reinterpreting Disney’s The Black Hole

A lot of critics attack Disney’s 1979 sci-fi blockbuster The Black Hole on the basis of science.  And while one level that’s understandable, it’s not terribly fair.  For instance one critic called foul on the black hole being visible.

And while it’s true that according to science they cannot be seen–you don’t see the black hole itself, but the reaction of objects in the range of its influence–can you imagine how viewers would have responded to an empty void?

These days?  It wouldn’t probably be such a big deal, but in 1979?  Competing against Star Trek: The Motion Picture (which for my money had way too many plot elements in common with the Space: 1999 episode Voyager’s Return, but that’s another post) that had to couch it in terms that viewers could understand (and not openly mock, it goes without saying).

Besides, when we’re talking about science, why is it movies based on Star Trek or the X-Men get a pass?  For instance, the transporter from Star Trek (which breaks a person down into what I assume is data, and rebuilds them on the other end is pretty silly (scientists are working on such things right now though I’d have to ask if that’s because they were inspired by Star Trek, as opposed to vice versa) and let’s not even get started on the X-Men, characters that exist in a universe where a person can have the power to project beams of force from their eyes, or shape shift (which I could easier accept if it were as painful as altering your skeletal structure and flesh should be).

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Pixels – Trailer

I have to admit that I was getting a very cool Tron vibe (with a plot that’s curiously similar to what I have read about the–supposedly–upcoming sequel to Tron: Legacy), watching the trailer for Pixels.  It actually looks pretty clever, a impression that I suspect that I am going to have to abandon seeing that Adam Sandler, the prince of low-brow comedy, is part of the cast.

Luckily, he seems to be one part of an ensemble, and the last scene almost makes up for it.

Thunderbirds Are Go! – Trailer

The official trailer for ITV’s The Thunderbirds Are Go! has dropped, and I like the way that they tried to integrate practical sets with CGI people and vehicles. (I also liked what appears to be a shoutout to Gerry Anderson’s Space: 1999, shown below).

Thunderbirds Are Go! craft

Unfortunately, despite efforts to make the CGI characters look like puppets they still look like computer graphics, which has never been that great in portraying people (unless dead eyes and oddly spastic movements are your thing).

If the above trailer doesn’t prove my point, then take a look at 2010’s–was it really that long ago!?–Tron: Legacy.  The CGI representation of Flynn (Jeff Bridges) attracted a huge amount of attention, but despite being state of the art at the time, it wasn’t actually that good a representation because–as far as humans go–our faces are composed of all sorts of muscles that interact with each other.

Let’s say you smile, your cheekbones move, which in turn shifts the position of your eyes, which slightly changes your forehead, perhaps wrinkling it.

Generally speaking, when humans, as well as animals, though it may not be quite as evident because their bodies may be covered with fur–move one aspect of our bodies, be it our faces or whatever–there’s an entire cascade of smaller movements that accompany it.  Which was why the computer animated Flynn was so odd looking: his mouth would move, then literally nothing else on his face would, which looks like he’s received a botox injection in his forehead and cheeks.

Flynn, Tron Legacy

So I guess what I am saying that I would have preferred it if they went with puppets, with CGI used when characters have to run or walk (because puppets have never done those two tasks particularly realistically) as well as spaceships and things like that.

Tron 3 Shooting This Fall?

I’ll believe it when I see it.

Take this with a huge grain of salt, for two reasons.  First, the last I heard Joseph Kosinski was aiming to shoot Gran Turismo (a racing video game), which means that that if the sequel to Tron: Legacy is indeed shooting this fall, the likelihood that he would be helming the sequel is a bit unlikely (though the article does say he’s in “early negotiations,” in reference to Gran Turismo, whatever that means).

Then there’s the fact that there’s been no news on the Tron: Legacy sequel front for years now, and if production were gearing up, why has it taken so long for anyone to hear about it?  I understand that there are some massive movies coming out, such as The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice, and so on but that doesn’t explain how this has managed to sneak under the radar.

And I don’t mean to sound like a hater because I am a HUGE fan of Steven Lisberger’s Tron, and enjoyed the sequel, but I don’t want to get my hopes up till I hear something more concrete.

Though what I am slightly more concerned about is if Wendy Carlos will return to score the sequel.  Daft Punk’s music for Tron: Legacy was okay, but it lacked the gravitas, the impact, the joyousness, of Carlos’s music.

Ending TitlesTron (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

The (Un)necessary Remake Dept: ‘Damnation Alley’

Jack Smight‘s 1977 feature, Damnation Alley is a movie I recall l fondly from when I was growing up.  It’s (very) loosely based upon a novel by Roger Zelazny, and while it’s an entertaining movie, it’s not a particularly good one.

I while I don’t know how the movie was filmed, it feels epic and looks massive (which had a lot to do with the excellent score by Jerry Goldsmith which managed to be bold and at the same time minimal enough that it didn’t take over).

Events take place after a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union.  You’re never told who started the conflict or why, though like W.O.P.R. said, “The only way to win is not to play.”

Unfortunaely for these guys, War Games came out in 1983, so they erred on the side of mutually assured destruction.  The United States is devastated and most of the land reduced to desert, while the sky is irradiated and angry with aurora borealis.

Though on what I assume is the last remaining military installation everything life goes on.  Maj. Eugene Denton (George Peppard) is in command, and is military through and through, while Tanner (Jan-Michael Vincent) and Keegan (Paul Winfield) don’t see the point of playing soldier any longer, so the former spends his time riding about the desert on his motorcycle, dodging giant scorpions (because radiation does nothing else if not create giant versions of things) while the latter  works on a mural.

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Weird Math: ‘Rise Of The Guardians’ Edition

Rise Of The Guardians poster 1The head of DreamWorks Animation, Jeffrey Katzenberg, reported that as a result of the weak performance of 2012’s “Rise Of The Guardians” the studio had to write off $87 million.

Sure, it’s not a “John Carter” sized loss, but it’s still substantial.

Now here’s the weird part:  ‘Rise’ earned over $300 million worldwide (on a $145 million budget), not what I would traditionally call a failure.  By way of comparison, “Tron: Legacy” cost $170 million, and earned $400 million, which is a better performance, though not hugely.

But while a sequel for ‘Legacy’ is in the works, ‘Rise’ has lost thousands.

The ’Tron’/‘Rise’  is a comparison I made before, mainly because it makes no sense to me that “Rise Of The Guardians” was such a (relatively) large failure.  If that were it’s only problem, it would be bad enough, though accompanying it was the layoff of 350 workers.

This is weird because it feels that ‘Rise’ underperforming could have perhaps been the impetus, and provided the cover, for Jeffrey Katzenberg doing what he wanted to do anyway.

Am I right?  I have no idea, but the idea that one film underperforming could cause all this damage feels odd.