Tron Legacy

By Edward Gambichler (co-host of the up-coming Flicks Picks podcast)

“Dad” – Sam Flynn

“Sam” – Kevin Flynn

“Long time” – Flynn Jr.

“……..You have no idea – Flynn Sr. “

One of the most amazing groups of people that have never cease to amaze me are computer programmers.  I open up a Java script and as far as I’m concerned it might as well be Egyptian hieroglyphics.  However, there are some computer programmers who can read off of them as if they were 1st grade flash cards.  It’s incredible the level of proficiency I have achieved as a PC user in my ten years ofexperience with Windows and Mac operating systems.

However, to a computer programmer…….I might as well be a trained monkey on the space shuttle (scratch that……..NOT EVEN).  So to say that it was difficult to relate to the subject would be understatement at best.  Until 1982, when a director by the name of Steven Lisberger wrote and directed a movie that attempted to make it easier for me…..and
( in literally ) the most human of terms.  That movie was Tron and it is widely considered a cult classic ( not to mention spawning many classic video games in it’s wake ).
The movie centers around three computer programmers: Kevin Flynn, Alan Bradley, and Dr. Lora Baines.  Bradley is currently developing a security program codenamed TRON and Baines is working on a laser particle beam that digitizes real life objects and places them within a computer environment. They both work for ENCOM, the top software company in the world.  Flynn used to be an employee of ENCOM and was its most gifted computer programmer.  That is until a rival programmer named Ed Dillinger stole Flynn’s designs for several video games, and due to their popularity was promoted to CEO of ENCOM. Since then, Flynn ( who has been reduced to managing an arcade where, ironically enough, many of his stolen video games rack up quarters ) has been trying to break into ENCOM’s database.  Unfortunately, that database is lorded over by the Master Control Program ( MCP )……a program that was developed by Dillinger.  Unfortunately for Dillinger, the MCP has reached an alarming level of artificial intelligence and threatens to break into other systems, including the Pentagon.  The program even grows beyond Dillinger’s control and even threatens to blackmail him if he gets in the way of its plans.  Flynn, with the help of Bradley ( whose TRON program was shut down by the MCP, which the MCP perceived as a threat ) and Baines break into ENCOM where Flynn can use the terminal in Baines’ laser laboratory to look for evidence in the MCP that proves that he was indeed the original creator of the video games that made the company so popular. Unfortunately for Flynn, the MCP detects his presence in its system and zaps Flynn with Dr. Baines’ laser particle beam……..thus sending him headlong into the digital world or what the movie refers to as “the Grid”.

In the world of the Grid, Programs ( represented to the moviegoers as humans  ) are forced to participate in highly dangerous gladiatorial games.  These games include a form of Jai Alai, disc throws, and a death race in vehicles known as “Light Cycles”.  The reason for these games is to root out those Programs that the MCP feels are inadequate.  The ones that prove to be the least useful are “derezzed” or terminated as a result of failing during the games.  During one of these games, Flynn meets TRON ( who, like the other Programs, bears a striking resemblance to his User… TRON’s case, Alan Bradley ).  Together they escape the Light Cycle Grid. They then proceed on their individual missions…..Kevin’s to find the evidence he’s looking for against Dillinger and TRON’s to free the system of the MCP’s stranglehold.

Now 28 years later Tron’s sequel Tron:Legacy  arrives in regular theaters ( as well as IMAX 3D ).  The story centers around Sam Flynn, Kevin’s son.  It is 1989 and as result of the success of his mission in the Grid, Kevin Flynn was made acting CEO of ENCOM. However, on Sam’s 8th birthday, Kevin has gone missing and is never heard from again. Flash-forward 20 years to 28 year old Sam Flynn, now an extreme sports enthusiast ( especially when it comes to a Ducati sports bike ) and major stockholder of ENCOM.  However, he’s never seen fit to step up to assume a executive position within the corporation and is content on playing elaborate pranks on the current board of directors.  One of the executive consultants on the board is Alan Bradley, the senior Flynn’s best friend.  He goes to Sam to tell him he received a page from his father’s office at the old arcade he used to run.  The younger Flynn goes to the arcade and finds a secret room hidden behind an old TRON video game.  Against the wall is a computer console.  What Sam does not see behind him, however, is the same laser particle beam from the 1st movie.  It zaps Sam the same way it did his father, and sends him down to the “Grid”.  However, this version of the Grid is much more advanced than the 1st movie’s version.  Immediately, Sam is thrust into the same gladiator disc game as the first film.  He barely survives and wins, but he catches the attention of the Program in Charge.  This Program turns out to be, C.L.U. a version of his father Kevin’s program from the first film.  Although he mistakes him for his father at first…..he realizes that this not his father and as the movie progresses he soon realizes the truth behind his father’s disappearance, just exactly how C.L.U. came into power, and just how warped this Grid ( although mostly based on his father’s vision ) has become.  Since this movie is still in theaters, I’ll stop from revealing too many details.

Now I’ll start with the positive aspects of the movies.  If it’s a visual feast for your eyes you’re looking for, then look no further.  In this movie, the world of the Grid gets a major upgrade.  And if it’s Light Cycles that informed your love of the original classic…….then the only thing that will disappoint you is the limited time director Joseph Kosinski makes use of them in the script.  Also, there’s no musical score more suited to a movie than the one composed by French music duo Daft Punk ( in an inspired cameo as MP3 players in what could qualify as this film’s Mos Eisley’s Cantina scene ).  Newcomer ,Garret Hedlund playing Sam Flynn ( and who was once considered for the part of Captain America in the upcoming movie ), fares well as an action star. And as far as sci-fi babes are concerned, you cannot hope for better than the charming Olivia Wilde ( from the TV series House ) who plays Quorra who is the senior Flynn’s apprentice of sorts.

Now for the negative, this is one of those sci-fi movies that deal with a heavy computer theme and feels the need to saddle the script with an even heavier religious allegory.  If one of the main characters is not alluded to as being “the Chosen One” (as in the Matrix ), he’s being given the title of “Creator” ( as in this movie ). The character of Kevin Flynn (played in the first movie by Jeff Bridges) in the first TRON was simply a wronged man on a mission to take back his work and the credit he felt was his. In this evolution of the character, Kevin Flynn is a disillusioned man who sought to change the world by creating a digital one in the Grid.  It is only when he sought to add to his vision the extra burden of his personal idea of “perfection” that things turned for the worse.  And when he left most of that vision to be achieved by his creation C.L.U. , we’re also saddled by the writers with a Frankenstein allegory as well.  Both of these plot devices have been done to death and been done better in other movies.  I just wished that a classic like the first TRON was given a more original storyline deserving of its cult status in cinema.

And ,finally, ( on a separate note) I saw this movie at the Lincoln Square movie theater in IMAX 3D.  However the movie house did something, in my opinion, completely idiotic.  Before the feature presentation began, they showed a preview for a new IMAX 3D documentary about animals called “Born to Be Wild”.  Unlike TRON, which was converted ( like most of today’s action films ) to 3D from a 2D film print, Born to Be Wild was shot with actual 3D cameras.  The difference between the two films was like Night and Day.  After witnessing “true” 3D, I was hard pressed to make out what was so special about this screening of TRON (due to the preview raising such expectations for my eyes).  It stands as a good argument against 2D to 3D conversion.

Check out Images here

Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street

1984 / 2010

Written By Edward Gambichler

(co-host of Flicks Picks podcast new to 2011)

“Its real……………I’M REAL…………..”

Freddy Krueger , Nightmare on Elm Street ( 2010 )

When the original “Nightmare on Elm Street” first came out back in 1984,  director Wes Craven

introduced us to not only one of the most original premises in the history of the slasher genre, but one of its most iconic villains:  Freddy Krueger.

As the story goes, Fred Krueger was a mass child murderer who was captured, arrested,  but was freed on a technicality by the courts ( based on an improperly signed search warrant ). However, in a bit of “lynch mob justice”, he was then torched to death in his boiler room hideout by the residents of Elm Street. Dressed in an old fedora, burnt red-green sweater, and armed with a glove modified and fitted with knives for finger extensions, he returns years later as an evil spirit to exact his revenge on the children of the Elm Street mob.  His method of killing is to take their lives in their dreams…..killing them in the process……and leaving no trace…..

Now 16 years later, director Samuel Bayer brings us his vision of the original horror classic. This hasn’t been the first horror movie to be remade for the next generation of filmgoers in favor of having to come up with an original concept, and it certainly won’t be the last.  However,  ( between “Halloween”, ” Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, “Friday the 13th”, and “The Last House on the Left” ) due to the icon status of its main antagonist, it has been the one that the fans have been the most “up in arms over”.  I don’t know if its because the fans have a problem with the word  “remake”…..but the word the current producers of these new version of the classics are using…..a “re-imagining”.  Freddy Krueger seems to be one of those rare characters, like Norman Bates or Hannibal Lecter, who the fans don’t want “touched”.  And I would have counted myself along with that breed of uncompromising adulation were it not for one small problem………I prefer ( in this case ) the re-imagining over the original inception……

The Freddy Krueger character in the 2010 version was played by Jackie Earle Haley ( fresh off his brilliant role as the vigilante superhero Rorschach in the movie, Watchmen ) whereas in the 1984 version, the role was originated by actor Robert Englund ( who at the time had starred in the original version of the TV series “V” ).  Although Englund played the role in 9 films, I’m only going to use the first film in the series to compare it with the 2010 version because I feel that after the 2nd movie…..the character had been cheapened to a certain extent by the filmmakers feeling the need to infuse him with an unnecessary amount of “camp” humor ( thus diminishing the impact of the character and the fear we are supposed to derive from him).

In this modern incarnation, Fred Krueger is the gardener at the local pre-school where most of the kids went when they were young.  He was very loved by the children and they, in turn, were described by one of the character’s mother as being his “Life”.  We see scenes of him running around with them, playing tag , and with not a trace of fear on their young innocent faces…….but love.   However, some of the parents noticed that their children have been acting “strange” and based upon what they told them about their friend Fred and his “games” they reached a conclusion no parent would want to consider.  So instead of going to the proper authorities with their “findings”, they chase down Fred Krueger ( who violently protests his guilt ).  They corner him in an abandoned steel mill and burn it down ( along with Krueger ) thereby sparing their children the ordeal of having to relive their “trauma” on a court’s witness stand.

It is in this facet of the “re-imagining”, however, that gives the 2010 version it’s brilliance.  If any one knows, a child’s perspective of events is sometimes not what actually happened.  This fact ,along with the film’s reveal that no evidence of any actual wrongdoing on the part of Fred Krueger was ever found, “changes the game” completely.  This now leaves us, the viewer, in the uncomfortable position of having to sympathize with a traditionally unsympathetic character.  For the entire film , every act of murder committed by Krueger ( no matter how gruesomely savage in nature ) feels in a sense “justifiable” in our eyes.  And it is to Haley’s credit as an actor, that it makes us difficult to discern the ( wrongfully accused….? )character’s innocence or guilt until the ending of the film.

Also, this is not a Fred Krueger who is waging war on a group of teens who are the offspring of his tormentors.  His targets are a group of young men and women who he has a “past” with.  He knows everyone of his victims……….personally.  While they have only the vaguest recollections of him, his memories of them are what makes the kills that much perverse.  He plays with and tortures them with his memories of them…..while they spend their final moments struggling with their repressed memories of who he is and why he is doing this to them.

Also, this version introduces us to the concept of “micronaps”.  The character of Fred Krueger attacks these victims in their dreams…..during sleep.  In the original, the victims would only encounter Krueger during normal nighttime REM sleep.  However, in this version, the victims are struggling with “sleep deprivation”.  They’ve been up for hours…..even days at a time.  They are susceptible of falling asleep at the drop of a hat.  Some of the teens have been reduced to taking ADD pills or epinephrine shots or even latte mocha grandes just to keep their eyes open.  However, even then that is not enough.  As soon as they rest their eyes for a moment…or just “faze out” or even daydream….they are in HIS WORLD.  And he waste no time in going after them.  No unnecessary scenarios or illusions tailor made to lull them in a false sense of security…….this Krueger pulls you down into “his” Hell.

I’m not a big fan of remaking the classics…..but I’m happy to say I was more than pleased with this one.  It doesn’t crap

Star Wars Art: Visions

When Star Wars debuted in 1977, it revolutionized mainstream American filmmaking, transporting fans to new galaxies and introducing them to countless now-classic characters, aliens, planets, and starships. In the decades since, the Star Wars saga has become a phenomenon, impacting cultures across the globe.

Just as George Lucas drew upon the work of N. C. Wyeth and Norman Rockwell for his own visual inspiration, he has now invited more than one hundred well-known and promising artists to draw upon the entire Star Wars galaxy for inspiration. Star Wars Art: Visions collects these magnificent artworks for the first time.

Featuring pieces by renowned artists such as Amano, Allan R. Banks, Harley Brown, Gary Carter, James Christensen, Michael Coleman, Philippe Druillet, Donato Giancola, Ann Hanson, H. R. Giger, Daniel Greene, Arantzazu Martinez, Syd Mead, Moebius, Paul Oxborough, Alex Ross, Anthony J. Ryder, Dolfi Stoki, William Stout, Dan Thompson, Julie Bell and Boris Vallejo, Scott Waddell, and Jamie Wyeth, Star Wars Art: Visions is a breakthrough tribute to the worldwide inspiration that is Star Wars.

Star Wars Art: Visions

Foreword by George Lucas, Introduction by J. W. Rinzler

Abrams / October 2010

U.S. $40.00 / Can. $48.00

ISBN 978-0-8109-9589-5

Hardcover with jacket

176 pages / 12½” x 10½”

120 full-color illustrations

The Legend of Pale Male

This is the true account of one of the most surprising and remarkable love stories in the history of New York.  It begins in 1993, when a young man from Belgium looking to change his life has an unexpected encounter in Central Park.  He meets a hawk.  Not just any hawk, but a wild Redtail, a fierce predator that has not lived in the City for almost a hundred years.  Compelled to follow this extraordinary creature, he buys a video camera and sets out to track the hawk.  Little does he know that the journey will take him almost twenty years and lead him down many trails of life, death, birth, hope, and redemption.

Affectionately known to New Yorkers as Pale Male, the hawk becomes a magnificent obsession and a metaphor for triumph against all odds.  His nest, perched on a posh 5th Avenue co-op, starts out as a novel curiosity to a handful of avid birdwatchers but becomes an international tourist destination – a place of pilgrimage.

Then, on a December afternoon without warning, in the space of half an hour, the building dismantles Pale Male’s beloved nest.  In a wingbeat, media from around the world assemble on 5th Avenue to cover the unprecedented protest.  Gathering behind Pale Male is an army of birdwatchers, movie stars, poets, children, dogs, and late night comedy show hosts.  What unfolds next, as they say, could only happen in New York.

In theaters November 24, 2010!

The Warrior’s Way

The Warrior’s Way, a visually-stunning modern martial arts western starring Korean actor Dong-gun Jang who plays an Asian warrior assassin forced to hide in a small town in the American Badlands. Rounding out the ensemble cast are Kate Bosworth (Superman Returns), Oscar®-winner Geoffrey Rush (Shine), Danny Huston (The Kingdom), and Tony Cox (The Hustle).The fantasy action film was written and directed by newcomer Sngmoo Lee, and is being produced by Barrie M. Osborne (Lord of the Rings), Jooick Lee (Seven Swords) and Michael Peyser (Hackers).

Release:                        December 3rd, 2010
Directed by:                   Sngmoo Lee
Written by:                     Sngmoo Lee
Produced by:                 Barrie M. Osborne, Jooick Lee, Michael Peyser
Cast:                             Jang Dong Gun, Kate Bosworth, Danny Huston and Geoffrey Rush
Rating:                          R
Runtime:                      100 minutes

I Love you Phillip Morris


Release Date: December 3rd (NY, LA, SF), Expansion through December

Cast: Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro

Written & Directed by: John Requa and Glenn Ficarra  (co-writers, BAD SANTA)

Based on the book by:Steve McVicker

Producers: Andrew Lazar, Far Shariat

Running Time: 98 minutes

Rating: Rated R for sexual content including strong dialogue and language

Official Website:

I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS is the improbable but true story of a spectacularly charismatic conman’s journey from small-town businessman to flamboyant white-collar criminal, who repeatedly finds himself in trouble with the law and on the lam, brilliantly escaping from the Texas prison system on four separate occasions – all in the name of love.

Steven Russell (Jim Carrey) leads a seemingly average life – an organ player in the local church, happily married to Debbie (Leslie Mann), and a member of the local police force.  That is until he has a severe car accident that leads him to the ultimate epiphany:  he’s gay and he’s going to live life to the fullest – even if he has to break the law to do it.  Taking on an extravagant lifestyle, Steven turns to cons and fraud to make ends meet and is eventually sent to the State Penitentiary where he meets the love of his life, a sensitive, soft-spoken man named Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor).  His devotion to freeing Phillip from jail and building the perfect life together prompts him to attempt (and often succeed at) one impossible con after another.  Told with an uncanny sense of humor and a lot of heart, “I Love You Phillip Morris” is an oddball tale of what can happen when the legal system, a daredevil spirit and undying love collide.


Vogster Entertainment is partnering with Archaia Entertainment to publish BLEEDOUT: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL, which includes the story-telling and artwork of a dozen of the comic industry’s most celebrated artists (see bulleted list below).

In addition to a full length Graphic Novel, the art will be used to propel BLEEDOUT’s interactive storyline — the first major brand expansion for Vogster’s CrimeCraft, a massively multiplayer online shooter on PC.

(BLEEDOUT launches this fall)

Each artist will bring his unique style and story-telling skills to a different chapter in the campaign:

  • Tim Bradstreet
  • Ben Templesmith
  • Nathan Fox
  • Zach Howard
  • Sanford Greene
  • David Williams
  • Gary Erskine
  • Howard Chaykin
  • Glenn Fabry
  • Vince Proce
  • Trevor Hairsine


BLEEDOUT explores the complex, yet frighteningly possible, series of events that throw the world into violent chaos. It is a new Age of Ruin, caused by mankind’s own greed, a new Wild Society run by criminals and outlaws, that players can explore and profit through exciting combat and conspiratorial adventure.