The Adjustment Bureau

Review by Edward Gambichler

The Adjustment Bureau

You can’t outrun your fate, David”

– Terence Stamp, The Adjustment Bureau ( 2011 )

In the two months of being a member of the staff of AlternativeMindz.com , I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of an exceptionally creative group of people ( whom I also have the honor of calling my friends ). And not only that, but I also get to contribute to this (in the words of the great philosopher and part-time pharmacist Charlie Sheen) EPIC collaboration by doing something that has long been close to my heart: watching and discussing films. I’ve written three movie reviews for the site so far. And when I write up these reviews……my only goal is to be hopefully as in depth and unique in my opinions as the movies I am discussing. For the “casual film-goer” who is asked to describe a film he/or she has seen, one of the most common phrases used in order to accomplish this task is “It’s like Movie A meets Movie B”. As a “film-lover” who takes great pleasure in dissecting a film’s themes, I am loathe to provide my fellow aficionados with so ham-handed and shallow a description. Unfortunately, I must fly in the face of my own approach and describe the subject of my fourth review…The Adjustment Bureau……as “An Affair to Remember” meets “Dark City” meets “Matrix Reloaded“.

I’d like to be able to say that the fault rests with me and my “oversimplified” view towards today’s box office releases. Unfortunately, the movie industry has not made it easier for me by sticking to time worn plot devices and genres. As I said to my good friend, Juan (and what would already be obvious to you), original films (ones consisting of a unique idea, plot, direction, or theme you have not come across before) are few and far between. Movie B is either derivative, a pointless sequel to, or an outright remake of Movie A. Although you are confidant you’ve never seen The Adjustment Bureau, it will no doubt strike several familiar chords.

The movie centers around a young up and coming politician named David Norris ( played by actor Matt Damon ) whose campaign for the New York Senate seat is derailed when questionable photographs of a drunken barroom “mooning” episode from his wild past come back to haunt him. Afterwards, he finds out he has dropped significantly from the polls and has lost the election to his older opponent. While rehearsing his concession speech in a men’s bathroom, he is startled by an enchanting young woman named Elise (played by actress Emily Blunt) who snuck in to use one of the stalls. To say their attraction to each other is strong is an understatement. and not only does David get a kiss from the young lady, but a second wind in the form of inspiration from his brief hookup. His concession speech goes from a humbling admission of defeat to a rousing and honest promise to bounce back and further pursue his political future.  From there, his Life is back on track and everything goes according to plan. Not David’s plan as we find out………but the Plan that has been implemented by a god-like being known as the “Chairman”. The race of human-like beings ( who are distinguishable in appearance from other humans only by the fedoras they wear ) who serve the Chairman to guide humans like David along their individual Path are referred to as simply, The Adjustment Bureau. They are the ones who are really in control of our reality and who make sure all the events in our lives are engineered towards the execution of this Plan.

David is  derailed from his Path one day,  however, when his assigned Adjuster Harry ( played by actor Anthony Mackie ) falls asleep and misses guiding David though a crucial window.  It is within this unexpected gap of time that David bumps into Elise again on a downtown bus (an event that was not supposed to happen ). The attraction between them is still palpable and she gives him her phone number. However, Harry was supposed to delay David and Norris arrives in his office ten minutes earlier than what was planned. There he is a witness to a bizarre event unfolding….. his co-workers and his best friend and campaign manager Charlie, frozen in place……while a team of Adjusters led by a man named Richardson (  actor John Slattery of Mad Men fame ) fine tune their victims memories and choices. When David observes the surreal scene unfolding him, he flees the office with the Adjusters giving chase. Despite his best efforts to shake them ( every time David seems to turn a corner………an Adjuster is there waiting for him..), they finally corner him and they take them into their custody. Knowing they have no other choice ( now that Norris has seen too much )…….they divulge their entire existence to David. Richardson informs Norris that he and his political ambitions are an important part of the Chairman’s Grand Plan. Unfortunately for David, and his budding romance, Elise was only suppose to inspire his rebound speech…….and that was the extent of her role.  However, David ( who is still infatuated with Elise ) is unwilling to acknowledge the stakes of his role in the Plan. He is then informed that if he does not turn away from a Life with Elise…..not only will he jeopardize his future in politics…..but her dreams of being a famous dancer.

However, the attraction David feels for her is so powerful that he’ll risk everything he has to try to manipulate the forces and events surrounding him so he can keep Elise in his Life. In order to do that, he must go on the run with Elise, find the Chairman and convince him to forge a different Plan for the two……with a determined team of Adjusters hot on their trail.

This film is based on famous sci-fi novelist Philip K. Dick’s short story Adjustment Team. And like the majority of film adaptions of Dick’s work….it is “loosely” based. Dick is one of those rare authors whose story concepts and central ideas translate well to film……but not his overall tone. With the exception of Blade Runner and A Scanner Darkly…….most of these adaptations had to take on some of the aforementioned time worn devices to make it palatable to general audiences. With Total Recall…..it was an Action film.  With Minority Report….it was a Chase film. And finally with the Adjustment Bureau….we have the Love Story.

Unfortunately, we have seen some of the themes present here in other movies already. In Dark City the world is populated by sinister beings who can manipulate humans ( much like the Adjusters ) in order to make them respond in ways they dictate.  The Adjusters, in this film, utilize inter-dimensional doorways to travel from one geographical location to another (much like the corridors programs use to travel between two digital worlds (as in Matrix Reloaded). All in all………there is nothing that really makes this film stand out in the science fiction genre. People will likely recall this film ten years from now, but, it will not be first on anyone’s minds when they are asked to name the top sci-fi films of all time.

What this movie does benefit from is the extraordinary amount of onscreen chemistry between the two leads, Damon and Blunt. Damon has a gift for providing a relaxed atmosphere and rapport with his female co-stars (much like with Vera Farmiga in The Departed ). Based on their performances alone, this film would probably have found better success as a normal rom-com or drama ( without the sci-fi element ). Hopefully, this will not be the last screen pairing of the two.

Do we control our destiny, or do unseen forces manipulate us? Matt Damon stars in the thriller The Adjustment Bureau as a man who glimpses the future Fate has planned for him and realizes he wants something else. To get it, he must pursue the only woman he’s ever loved across, under and through the streets of modern-day New York. On the brink of winning a seat in the U.S. Senate, ambitious politician David Norris (Damon) meets beautiful contemporary ballet dancer Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt)-a woman like none he’s ever known. But just as he realizes he’s falling for her, mysterious men conspire to keep the two apart. David learns he is up against the agents of Fate itself-the men of The Adjustment Bureau-who will do everything in their considerable power to prevent David and Elise from being together. In the face of overwhelming odds, he must either let her go and accept a predetermined path.

Operation Retroshock (star wars)

   

Rob Base along with Pixel Dan were guests on Chris Vint and Allan Price’s podcast Operation Retroshock, Talking about Star Wars.

Part 1 here

– Operation Retroshock Episode 10 (star wars part 1)

Part 2  here

– Operation Retroshock Episode 11 (star wars part 2)

The Green Hornet

The Green Hornet by Ed Gambichler (co-host of the flicks picks)

“Let’s roll, Kato” – Britt Reid

Whenever movie makers have to deal with casting decisions based upon characters portrayed in well known properties ( whether it be literature, television series, or video games ), they must always confront that nearly impossible task of facing down the invisible dragon that is the nemesis of film making: audience expectations.  And there is no greater hurdle in this process than comic book adaptations. It is one thing for directors and producers to reach the conclusion that an actor or actress is the “One” ( based on his/ her audition, their chemistry between themselves and their co- stars, and how they fit in the overall aesthetic of the film )….it is quite another when those decisions have been made for them by the very audience they are trying to reach ( even before one frame of film is committed to the “can” and shown on screen ). It places them in a box that asks them to forgo their personal vision as well as their sense of originality and daring and settle on the “safe” route of acquiescing to what the “fan-boys or fan-girls” want. And if the filmmakers were to go ahead and cast an actor or actress that the fans perceive to be “totally out of left field”, then the entire production can be expected to be criticized and in a sense “condemned” on every blog pertaining to the genre (critical to a production which is, in a sense, totally dependent on and at the mercy of “good word of mouth”. So one could only imagine the filmmakers trepidation in announcing Seth Rogen ( a traditionally perceived comedy star ) and Jay Chou ( an unknown Taiwanese pop singer) in the respective roles of the cult comic book characters The Green Hornet and his partner Kato.

The Green Hornet was first conceived as a radio serial by George W. Trendel and Fran Striker ( who were also responsible for the creation of the Lone Ranger as well ) with input by station director James Jewell. The premise centers around the character of Britt Reid, a newspaper publisher by day and the costumed masked vigilante The Green Hornet at night. He is aided by his similarly masked partner and Asian manservant Kato. Together they fight the corruption that plagues the city of Los Angeles by taking on crime bosses, utilizing exceptional hand to hand fighting skills ( especially Kato ) and a technologically tricked out and weaponized vehicle ( tin the form of  a Chrysler Imperial Crown ) dubbed “The Black Beauty”.

Of course, there have been many comic characters who have worn a mask or driven a souped up muscle car ( for instance The Spirit, Batman, and The Phantom to name a few ). However, what makes the characters of Green Hornet and Kato so unique is the ingenious concept twist that they are perceived by their city and it’s citizens as members of the same crime underworld whose very grip the two swore to free them from. By being known at large as one of the “bad guys”, it makes it easier for the masked duo to infiltrate various criminal organizations and gain access to information that they would not normally be privy to if they existed on the legit side of the Law. This brilliantly subversive concept allows the duo to take down the “Mob” from within (thru misinformation and bogus business deals they set up with these mobsters) and not put innocents in harm’s way while doing it. The Green Hornet  radio show was also spun off into a collection of two 1940’s film serials ( starring Gordon Jones in the first and Warren Hull in the second as Britt Reid and Keye Luke as Kato in both films). The character appeared in comic books, and (in its most famous incarnation ) a 1966 television show. The series achieved cult status …..not due to actor Van Williams portrayal of the title character, but by the introduction to American viewing audiences of legendary martial arts icon Bruce Lee as Kato (  so popular in the role that overseas Asian markets advertised the series as “The Kato Show”……a move that would springboard Lee’s Hong Kong action film career ).

Since the early 1990’s, Hollywood had tried unsuccessfully to launch a film adaptation of the character. One of the first pair of actors to be named in connection to the roles were George Clooney ( who even announced the project during a guest appearance on The Tonight Show )and Jason Scott Lee ( who had played the lead role in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story which included a scene depicting the actor in costume as Kato, filming a scene on The TV series set ). The movie was to be directed by then music video director Michel Gondry (known for his emphasis on visual effects…..most notably pioneering the “bullet time” sequences made famous by the Wachowski Bros. film, “The Matrix”.  The project changed many hands, from Gondry to director Kevin Smith, to  actor-director Stephen Chow( star of Kung Fu Hustle in the role of Kato ), and actors Greg Kinnear and Jake Gyllenhaal . The production finally landed back in Gondry’s lap, giving star billing to the unlikely pair of comedy actor Seth Rogen and the relatively unknown Jay Chou.


First off, I have to say , this adaptation works for me. Most of the fans feared that this comic book property would be dumbed down as a “buddy comedy” rather than a version that reflected the serious noir tone of the TV series. But then again, that’s my point. The TV series ( in my opinion ) had already satisfied the fan base’s expectations for the characters to a point where I felt that Rogen, Chou, Gondry and writer Evan Goldberg really had nothing to prove to them. Much like I didn’t feel disappointed when Superman Returns fell short of my hopes for it to be great movie since the first Superman movie starring Christopher Reeve more than fulfilled my wishes for a faithful adaptation of The Man of Steel ( even going so far as to set the bar for other future comic book film adaptations ). There is no way Chou can live up to the impact Bruce Lee made in the role of Kato. Nor can Rogen be expected to be taken seriously as a straight up matinee action movie star of Van Williams’ caliber. However the actors, as well as the filmmakers, succeed in making their version exist as its own “animal”. What makes it easier is that it’s subversive concept is what makes the Green Hornet the unique property it is. The actor’s being cast for the characters of Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent, for example, must live up to or meet the same fan expectations associated with Batman or Superman respectively. However, the Green Hornet  and Kato are cult heroes……not cultural icons. The alter egos of Britt Reid and Kato are not so ingrained in the pop culture psyche, that they must adhere to a set list of criteria that demands a specific actor. Bottom line:  everyone knows who Batman and Superman is. Who Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent is. Even if you’re a comic geek or a random filmgoer. Only a handful know who The Green Hornet and Kato is. There isn’t a “general” audience expectation of who should play these roles, and that is what Rogen and Chou have going for them.

In this adaptation of the title character, Britt Reid is the wealthy and spoiled son of a disapproving father, a respected newspaper publisher.  At a young age, Britt had a heroic impulse to help others. This impulse led to a fight at school where he rushed to the aid of a classmate being bullied in the schoolyard. However, instead of  praising young Britt for coming to the aid of others, he sharply criticized the young boy for being a problem ( an incident which would caused Britt to spend the rest of his adult life behaving irresponsibly and being a burden to his father…….causing a deep rift between the two ). On his way home from another one of his decadent parties, however, he learns that his father has suddenly passed away due to an allergic reaction to a bee sting. Now the sole owner of his father’s newspaper, The Daily Sentinel, Britt finds himself having to live up to the legacy that his dear old Dad has established. However, knowing that he’ll never measure up to this standard, he deals with it by getting drunk and firing most of the housekeeping staff of his father’s mansion. He wakes up expecting a cup of his favorite coffee,but finds that it is nothing like the cup of Joe he normally enjoys.  When he realizes that he fired the one person capable of making the fantasic brew, he promptly hires the servant back, a young asian man named Kato. Kato, a mechanical genius, was hired by Britt’s father to maintain his rare collection of automobiles. Soon, the two bond over a couple bottles of beer and their mutual resentment of Britt’s father. This resentment leads to a bit of midnight vandalism on their part of a statue of Britt’s father the citizens had commissioned to commemorate his crusade against citywide criminal corruption.  During this act, the two witness a young couple about to be mugged by a roaming street gang. Rediscovering his childhood impulse to help others, Britt confronts the gang….but is immediately overpowered by them. To Britt’s surprise, Kato comes out of nowhere and dispatches each member of the gang with martial arts expertise backed up by lightning fast precision. Realizing that both he and Kato can continue on their mission, fighting the same corruption in Los Angeles his father tried to expose, Britt creates the persona of The Green Hornet. He also comes up with the plan to for Kato and him to pose as criminal masterminds, in order to get close to the city’s real criminal element. They are successful at first, making a name for themselves and having their exploits grab headlines in the The Daily Sentinel. However, they soon show up on the radar of the murderous and up and coming gang leader, Benjamin Chudnofsky ( played by Christoph Waltz….coming off his recent Oscar win as Col. Hans Landa in director Quentin Tarantino’s film, Inglourious Basterds. Also, their new partnership ( as well as their friendship ) is soon threatened by the introduction of Britt’s new secretary at the newspaper office, Leonore Case ( played by Cameron Diaz ). They both engage in a jealous romantic rivalry between each other over Ms. Case, who’s knowledge of the methods of various criminal organizations ( thru her college courses ) they solicit.  The two must overcome the fallout of their friendship to deal with the growing threat Chudnofsky’s growing power lust poses to the Los Angeles.

The chemistry of the two principal leads is spot on. Jay Chou (tasked to fill the shoes of the late great Bruce Lee ) acquits himself well in the role of Kato. He also holds his own with Seth Rogen in the films more comedic scenes ( in which Rogen is dependable as always ). And as Chudnofsky, Christoph Waltz displays the appropriate balance of both menace and impeccable comic timing.

The only one who falls short in my opinion is Cameron Diaz, although I feel it is not her fault due to being saddled with the largely thankless role of the “love interest” ( which, unfortunately, every production team feels the need to burden an action film with). Finally, this is one of those rare film productions that actually took the time and made a concentrated effort to make the 2D to 3D post film conversion a success. When the 3D effect is married to Michel Gondry’s inspired visual effects, the results are worth the admission price. Although I will always recognize the 1966 T.V. series as being the one true adaptation of the character, that fact didn’t prevent me from enjoying this film adaptation for what it was.

Unrated Director’s Cut of HATCHET II

HATCHET II – Arriving on Blu-ray & DVD on February 1, 2011!

BONUS FEATURES:

  • “Hatchet II: Behind the Screams”
  • Trailers, Teaser, TV Spot, Radio Spot
  • Production Audio commentary track featuring writer/director Adam Green, Cinematographer Will Barratt, and Make-up Effects Supervisor Robert Pendergraft
  • Cast Audio commentary track featuring writer/director Adam Green and actors Kane Hodder and Tony Todd
  • First Look: Hatchet II (Blu-ray exclusive)
  • Meet the FX Team (Blu-ray exclusive)

HATCHET II picks up right where the original Hatchet ended. The quiet but hot-tempered Marybeth (Danielle Harris, Halloween) barely escapes the clutches of the mysterious Crowley (Kane Hodder, Friday the 13th), who has already murdered all of Marybeth’s friends and other vacationers in New Orleans swamp country.

Marybeth recruits a team of hired guns and returns to the bayou to exact her revenge, but quickly discovers that even with an army of hunters at her side the murderous fury of Crowley cannot be contained. Ultimately, it will be up to Marybeth alone to defeat the seemingly indestructible Crowley, but not before learning the truth about a twisted secret he shares with her own family.

The film stars some of the most iconic names in horror including Kane Hodder (aka Jason Voorhees), Tony Todd (Candyman), Tom Holland (Director of Child’s Play), R.A. Mihailoff (aka Leatherface) and scream queen Danielle Harris (Rob Zombie’s Halloween, Stake Land).

———————

Official Website: http://www.hatchet2.com/

Become a FAN on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/HatchetII

Genre: Horror

Cast: Danielle Harris, Tony Todd and Kane Hodder

Director/Writer: Adam Green

Season 4 of THE GUILD

Season 4 of THE GUILD available today from NEW VIDEO

Now on the iTunes store with exclusive “Free on iTunes” extra not available anywhere else!

Hot off the cliffhanger to Season 3, Codex (Felicia Day) scrambles to justify her impetuous encounter with Rival Guild Leader, Fawkes (Wil Wheaton), to herself and her Guild. It’s Guildie vs. Guildie when Vork announces a fundraising competition for design rights to the new Guild Hall. Meanwhile, Zaboo and Vork deal with a real-world house guest, Tink and Clara pair up to make some quick cash, and Codex’s computer problems force her to work at a real job (OMG) with Bladezz (OMFG!).

With more than 65 million views web-wide, THE GUILD’s popularity continues to grow (Ms. Day boasts more than 1.7 million followers on Twitter).  The original comedic web series has won numerous awards, including the SXSW, YouTube and Yahoo Web Series Awards in 2008, and 3 Streamy Awards in 2009: Best Comedy Web Series, Best Ensemble, and Best Actress for Ms. Day. Most recently, THE GUILD expanded into a graphic novel series from Dark Horse Comics, and a new trade paperback (all three issues in one bound edition, with added features) was recently released in November 2010.

Now available on iTunes: http://www.iTunes.com/Movies/TheGuild

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…..in 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 Alternativemindz.com 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