Archive for December, 2010

Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2010 by Mystery Man



Superman finds a foe who may be too powerful even for him to defeat in the murderous Black Adam. However, Black Adam’s real target is the World’s Mightiest Mortal–Captain Marvel.


I’ve always wondered why it is that Captain Marvel has never really gotten the respect he deserves. I mean the guy is as strong, if not stronger than Superman, and is almost invincible. To my knowledge, there was a Shazam! television show in the 70s, but it was abit too serious in tone, sort of like The Incredible Hulk, and he has appeared in the usual supehero cartoons such as Justice League: Unlimited and Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

So, you cna imagine how gidy I was when I heard about Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam. I was slightly disappointed, though. Not because this was a bad film, but becuse it was a short. On top of that, this is the exact story, with some minor alterations, that was shown in an epsiode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold last season.

Those frustrations aside, it is great to see at least something for Shazam!. Can Aqauaman, Hawkman, Firestorm, or Red Tornado be far behind?

The animation in this short film is superb, but I found it a bit too anime-ish for my taste. I guess I shouldn’t complain, though. It could have been much worse (computer animated).

Save for some early talking to set up the plot, this thing is non-stop action, literally, and I could not have loved it more!

The voice casting is intriguing. Apparently, Jerry O’Connell voices Captain Marvel in his appearance in Justice League: Unlimited and reprised his role here, as did George Newbern as Superman (I still prefer Tim Daly, though).

Arnold Vosloo, best known for his work in The Mummy franchise gives Black Adam a voice. I wasn’t exactly sold on it. The accent left me a bit iffy and I’m not sure why.

The other shorts that are included in this collection feature The Spectre, Jonah Hex, and Green Arrow. My personal favorite of those was The Spectre, especially what he does with the money at the end. I’m not going to spoil it. You have to see for yourself.

The three shorts appear on various other DC animated features. I can’t recall which ones exactly, though.

On top of these great shorts, the special features include a episodes of various DC comic cartoons such as Justice League: Unlimited, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and Batman: The Animated Series. It was good to relive these episodes and made me want to go track down the DVD collections.

Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam isn’t perfect, but it is worth checking out, especially for all the special features and whatnot that is included on the DVD. I may have to make a last minute addition to my holiday shopping after watching this, that’s for sure. I’m sure any comics fan will enjoy it as well.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Island of Dr. Moreau

Posted in Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , on December 22, 2010 by Mystery Man


Andrew Braddock is a shipwreck victim from the “Lady Vain”, having also been a member of its crew. After many days at sea, he and one other survivor arrive, unknowingly, upon the island of Dr. Moreau. Besides Moreau, the others in the compound are his associate Dr. Montgomery, his deformed servant M’Ling, and a lovely young woman, Maria.

At first, an “honoured guest” (prisoner) on that island, Braddock finds his contacts with the natives increasingly disturbing, for they are not like any men he has ever seen. Eventually, it transpires that these “men” are in fact experimental reconstructions from wild animals made by a particularly sinister scientist, Dr. Moreau. He feels that he is in danger from the animal/men and from Dr. Moreau himself and does not know where to turn.

After one of the man-beasts attacks an animal, breaking the rules that Moreau has established, Moreau intends to take it to the “house of pain”, his laboratory. The beast panics and leads chase, and Braddock kills it in sympathy. Convinced that Moreau is insane, Braddock plans to leave the island with Maria, with whom he has developed a mutual attraction. They are caught however, and Moreau straps Braddock in his lab, intending to conduct experiments on him. Montgomery objects and Moreau kills him in cold blood. M’Ling and the servant animal women take Montgomery’s body into the woods to the man-beasts.

While the man-beasts become agitated over Moreau breaking another of the rules (“man shall not kill man”), Moreau injects Braddock with a serum that gives him animal characteristics. Braddock becomes more animalistic and struggles to maintain his humanity. The man-beasts storm the compound and in the chaos Moreau is killed. Braddock, Maria, and M’Ling stall long enough to engineer an escape, but the compound is burned and most of the man-beasts are killed by the wild animals which Moreau kept for his experiments. M’Ling is also killed in the final escape.

Braddock and Maria manage to sail away in the lifeboat that Braddock arrived in, but only after a bloody battle with one of the man-beasts. Some time later, they are rescued by passing ship, and the serum has worn off, returning Braddock to his full human state.


 One of the stories I’ve heard bits and pieces of here and there in various medium has been the that of The Island of Dr. Moreau. This should make it no surprise that I was excited about watching this film this afternoon.

The sad part is that I wasn’t really impressed with this picture. Maybe I had expectations that were a bit too high, or perhaps I just couldn’t get past the cheesy dialogue and makeup.

However, there are some good parts of this film. The story is told well. The story does drag on for a bit, especially in the middle.

I also have to wonder why it is that Moreau wanted to create these creatures, only to all but shun them later on.

The film does come to a climax after some unnecessary lengthy drama, but the payoff just wasn’t there for me. It sort of felt anti-climactic. I guess I’m a bit spoiled by today’s cinema, but I was hoping for a twist, like maybe it was the creatures who were the mastermind behind Moreau and Montgomery.

The casting is pretty good. Burt Lancaster is both sophisticated and intimidating as Dr. Moreau.

A young Michael York surprised me with his role here. I never thought that Basil from the Austin Powers franchise was such a talented actor. I will admit that I found his performance a bit wooden, but I can get over it, considering how his lines aren’t that great.

The lovely Barbara Carerra seems to be an enigma throughout the whole film. At first, she seems as if she was a creation of Moreau, then she appears to be his subordinate daughter, and finally she is her own woman (after Moreau’s death, that is).

As I said before, I had high hopes for this film. Sadly, they were not met, and this just came off as another generic sci-fi flick from the 70s with cheap effects and subpar acting. I will recommend  this as a must see before you die, but don’t go out of your way to see it right away.

3 out of 5 stars

A Christmas Carol (1999)

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on December 21, 2010 by Mystery Man


In the Victorian period, Ebenezer Scrooge is a skinflint businessman who loathes the Christmas season and begrudges having to give time off to his best employee, Bob Cratchit. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his late friend and business partner, Jacob Marley, who in the afterlife has come to see the errors of his ways. Marley arranges for Scrooge to be visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come in hopes of teaching Scrooge of the importance of embracing the joy of the holiday season. Scrooge reforms, learning to keep the spirit of Christmas alive in his heart, ultimately becoming a well-loved and respected man.


 I’m sure you’ve all read Charles Dickens’ immortal tale A Christmas Carol. If you haven’t, then one of your English teachers needs to be slapped around!

This version in a 1999 TV-movie version of the book. There really isn’t much to say about this flick.

Patrick Stewart seems like an odd choice for Scrooge. Don’t get me wrong, he is a very good and capable actor, but he doesn’t bring anything to Scrooge. I may be a bit biased due to my love for the 1984 version of A Christmas Carol. Of course, said bias didn’t skewer my opinion of other versions of Scrooge in Disney’s or the musical version. I just didn’t feel anything for his character.

It is obvious this was a made for TV movie, especially when you look at some of the special effects, namely the ghost of Christmas yet to come. The thing looks like a mixture of the 1984 version and a Jawa from Star Wars. It looked more comical than scary, to me. I was sort of reminded of those aliens from Sesame Street when it first appeared. To top it all off, the thing has human hands. WTF?!? The ghost of Christmas yet to come should be a mysterious figure that scares Scrooge into changing his ways. This thing couldn’t scare a speck of dust!

The story is the story we all know. There really isn’t anything we haven’t seen already. So, it was sort of like a been there, done that thing.

Do I recommend seeing this? Not really. There are much better versions out there, but if you really wanna watch it, I’m not going to stop you. There just really isn’t anything memorable about this schlock.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

National Lampoon’s European Vacation

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on December 19, 2010 by Mystery Man


The film’s plot is another family misadventure, full of over-the-top slapstick. Chase and D’Angelo again portray the married couple Clark and Ellen Griswold, living in suburban Chicago with two children, Rusty and Audrey. The family competes in a game show called “Pig in a Poke” (based on Family Feud, but with the families wearing pig costumes) and wins an all-expenses-paid trip to Europe, flying Pan Am Airways. In a whirlwind tour of western Europe, chaos of all sorts ensues. Their fleabag London hotel desk clerk (Mel Smith) is a sloppy, tattooed Cockney wearing a tank top. Now with their English hire car, a bright yellow Austin Maxi, Clark drives his family endlessly around the busy Lambeth Bridge roundabout for hours, unable to maneuver his way out of traffic, mentioning the Big Ben clock and Parliament with each pass. His wrong-way driving habits cause him to repeatedly crash into cars and knock over and injure a frightened bicyclist (Eric Idle) who reappears in different scenes as if by coincidence, each time wearing more bandages than in the scene before. At Stonehenge, Clark backs their Maxi into a priceless, ancient stone monolith, knocking all the stones down like dominoes, which they do not even notice happened as they happily leave the scene (while the family are at Stonehenge, Clark shouts for Rusty, who is standing right behind him. Rusty then replies, ‘Yeah Dad?’. This conversation is a callback to a similar one which took place in National Lampoon’s Vacation after Clark crashed the car in the middle of the desert).

In Paris, Clark throws Rusty’s beret cap off the Eiffel Tower observation deck, causing a lady’s dachshund to jump off after it; later, young Rusty meets a hooker at a bawdy Paris can-can dance show. While in Paris, the family’s video camera is stolen by a passerby (Victor Lanoux) whom Clark had asked to take a picture of the family. Also, Clark, with his terrible French, manages to insult every native Frenchman.

The Griswolds burst in on a bewildered, elderly German village couple (Willy Millowitsch, Erika Wackernagel), who they mistakenly think are relatives but who serve them dinner anyhow, not knowing each other’s languages. Clark manages to turn a lively thigh-slapping Bavarian folk dance stage performance, choreographed as are all the musical sequences by Gillian Lynne, into an all-out street brawl, after which he, fleeing hastily, gets their Citroën DS stuck in a too-narrow medieval archway after knocking down several street vendors’ stands. The family members get on each others’ nerves while riding together in a train compartment.

In Rome, the Griswolds rent a car at a travel office. However, they don’t know that the real manager is restrained by two thieves. The leader thief gives them a car with the real manager in the trunk. He claims that he lost the keys to the trunk. Later the Griswolds go shopping. The next day Ellen angrily discovers that private sexy videos of her from the family’s previously stolen video camera have been used in a billboard advertising a pornographic movie, leaving her completely humiliated. After screaming her anger at Clark (who thought he erased the video as he had promised her), Ellen storms off to the hotel they are staying at and encounters the thief who sold them the car. She confesses her recent troubles. She is still unaware that he is a thief. The man then tries to get the car keys, which are in her purse. However he fails and then the police arrive at the hotel and Ellen tries to escape. She is kidnapped by him, prompting Clark to rescue her. At the end while flying back to the U.S.A., Clark causes the plane to “knock” the Statue of Liberty’s torch upside down.

Cameo appearances are made by John Astin (playing game show host “Kent Winkdale”), Moon Unit Zappa, Robbie Coltrane, Maureen Lipman, Leslie Phillips, Ballard Berkeley, Eric Idle and a musical appearance by The Power Station (“Some Like It Hot”).


 National Lampoon’s European Vacation is another great entry into the National Lampoon lexicon. This sequel to National Lampoon’s Vacation has been viewed by some as superior and by others as inferior. For me, it is somewhere in between.

Again we find the Griswolds going on vacation, this time as a result of winning a game show and earning a trip to Europe.

As with the previous film, there are numerous hijinks, hysterics, and utter ludicrousness to be found. This is what makes this franchise so great.

The thing that really gets me about this picture is how the plot is similar to the predecessor, and yet doesn’t feel recycled at all. Too often, I have seen sequels that are direct rip-offs of the previous film, just moved to a different location. Initially, that is what I thought this was going to be, but I was wrong.

Of course, as hilarious as this picture was, there are moments that just don’t work for me. For instance, there is the whole porn video thing with Mrs. Griswold, especially since this was only a PG-13 film (the previous film was rated R).

On top of that, the kids were replaced. Normally this wouldn’t be that big of a deal, except for the simple fact that they didn’t seem to work. Making matters work, there seem to be a constant focus on Audrey’s weight.

Those points aside, having Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo reprising their roles really kept some sense of continuity with this film and the previous one. Not to mention that they are just as funny as ever and the chemistry between them has never been better.

National Lampoon’s European Vacation is one of those great films that often times gets overlooked in favor of another in the franchise. I’m not sure if this is my favorite, but it is for sure just as funny as National Lampoon’s Vacation. Do I think you should watch it? Why, of course. It is hilariously funny and a feel good romp that will be enjoyed by one and all.

4 out of 5 stars

Prom Night

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2010 by Mystery Man


In 2005, Donna Keppel (Brittany Snow) returns home to find her father and brother dead. She hides under the bed as Richard Fenton (Johnathon Schaech), her former teacher who is obsessed with her, kills her mother in front of her. Three years later, she has been in therapy and she tells her therapist (Ming Wen) about the recurring dream of that night.

Donna is now living with her aunt (Jessalyn Gilsig) and uncle (Linden Ashby), and is about to graduate from high school. She and her friends are getting ready to attend their senior prom that night. While at the salon with her friends, she thinks she sees Fenton watching her from across the street, but when a car passes, he’s gone. Donna’s boyfriend, Bobby (Scott Porter), arrives at her house, along with her friends Lisa (Dana Davis), Claire (Jessica Stroup), and their boyfriends, Ronnie (Collins Pennie) and Michael (Kelly Blatz). They take a limousine to the prom.

At the town’s police station, Detective Winn (Idris Elba), who imprisoned Fenton three years ago, learns that Fenton has escaped from prison and warns Donna’s aunt and uncle. At the prom, Fenton arrives at the hotel disguised as a man named Mr. Ramsey, and takes a room on Donna’s floor and kills the housekeeper to get the master key. On the dance floor, Claire has a fight with her boyfriend Michael and goes up to her room with Donna to calm down. After Donna leaves, Claire is alone and hears noises. She then sees Fenton, who proceeds to take Claire into a room, stabs her and kills her. When Claire doesn’t return, Michael goes upstairs to see her. While in the room, Fenton hides, then kills Michael. Detective Winn arrives and warns the hotel staff to be on the alert. Fenton kills a hotel employee looking for the maid and takes his uniform.

Lisa and Ronnie head up to the room, Lisa bumps into Fenton in the elevator. While making out Lisa realizes that it was Fenton and runs off to warn Donna, but after taking the stairs she’s caught by Fenton. She is chased down to the basement of the hotel where construction is taking place and she hides herself from Fenton, but after her boyfriend calls her name from the elevator, Fenton finds her and kills her.

Winn and his assistant Nash (James Ransone) find the body of a man named Mr. Ramsey in a car in the hotel parking lot. Winn goes up to the room and finds the housekeeper’s body. Knowing for sure that Fenton is in the building, Winn sounds the emergency alarm and has the entire hotel evacuated. Donna goes back to the room to retrieve her mother’s shawl and runs into Fenton. Realizing Donna is still inside Winn races back up to the room. Donna escapes Fenton, and Winn discovers the body of the employee Fenton killed earlier. Winn realizes Fenton left the hotel in the employee’s uniform.

Winn now races back to Donna’s house and finds Detective Nash dead in his squad car. Inside Donna returns from the bathroom to find Bobby’s throat has been slit. She sees a shadow out in the hall and she hides in her closet, thinking the shadow is Fenton’s. The person in the hall is Detective Winn and Fenton grabs Donna in the closet. Winn is about to open the closet but then hears a scream from Donna’s aunt, from noticing the dead officer on the ground outside so Winn runs to her bedroom. Donna bites Fenton on the hand and tries to escape out of the closet but trips on the floor. Fenton tries to hold her down but Donna continues to struggle and kick him. When Fenton was above Donna and tries to stab her, Winn runs in and shoots Fenton, killing him. Donna cries over Bobby’s dead body and Winn tells her it’s over


 We all remember our high school prom and the feelings that ran through us that night, right? Well, imagine if you were the object of some crazy stalker’s affection, and he escaped from prison that night and was coming for you. That is the general idea behind Prom Night.

First off, let me address something that many who have seen this film complain about, and that is the lack of gore. I, too, was expecting a bit more bloodshed, but we have to remember that this film is rated PG-13 (though I watched the unrated version), so the site of blood is going to be few and far between. While it may have made this a better picture to up that factor a bit, not ever horror flick can be Saw.

Now that I’ve said that, this isn’t half bad. However, with all the potential this plot has, the filmmakers seriously drop the ball. I mean how much more creepy can you get than some teacher who develops an infatuation with a student to the point that he murders her parents and anyone that dares to keep them apart.

One would think, that they would really have played up the creepy angle, but instead they chose to focus more on the cop that arrested him and his attempts to contain him in the building where prom was being held.

Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with that, but this isn’t a cop flick.

The casting is pretty good. Brittany Snow seems like she was meant to be a prom queen and her friends form the perfect high school circle for her.

Idris Elba is believable as the cop/hero, though, as I mentioned before, they spent too much time on him.

Johnathon Schaech is the highlight of this flick, as he plays this creepy killer guy to perfection. Even I was a bit creeped out by him.

The final verdict on Prom Night is that it is pretty good, but not spectacular. This is what I like to call a warm-up horror flick. The kid for those not ready for the heavier stuff. With that said, I think audiences will enjoy it, as long as they’re no hung up on wanting to see lots of gore.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Expendables

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2010 by Mystery Man


A team of elite, highly-trained mercenaries, the Expendables, are deployed to the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia to halt local pirates from executing the hostages on a merchant vessel. The team consists of leader Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), former SAS soldier and blades specialist Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), martial artist Yin Yang (Jet Li), sniper Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), weapons specialist Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) and demolitions expert Toll Road (Randy Couture). Jensen instigates a firefight, causing casualties for the pirates. Yang and Jensen fight over a moral disagreement about hanging a pirate, with Ross finally intervening. As a result of his psychological problems and drug use, Ross reluctantly releases Jensen from the Expendables. The team then travels to New Orleans where they are based.

Ross and rival mercenary leader Trent Mauser (Arnold Schwarzenegger) visit a church to meet a man, who takes the name “Mr. Church” (Bruce Willis). Church offers them a mission in Vilena, a fictional island in between the Gulf of Mexico and South America, to overthrow a brutal dictator, General Garza (David Zayas). Busy with other things, Trent gives the contract to Ross. Meanwhile, Christmas visits his girlfriend, Lacy (Charisma Carpenter), whom he discovers has left him for another man. He leaves in a fit of rage, while Lacy insists her actions occurred because she does not see Christmas often and does not even know what he does for a living.

Ross and Christmas fly to Vilena to do initial reconnaissance after meeting their contact, Sandra (Gisele Itié), only for the mission to go awry. Ross learns that Garza is backed by ruthless ex-CIA agent James Munroe (Eric Roberts) as well as his henchmen Paine (Steve Austin) and The Brit (Gary Daniels), who manipulate and keep Garza in power by making his people fear him. Sandra is revealed to be Garza’s daughter. Ross decides to abort and causes casualties among the army as they escape, but Sandra refuses to leave. Meanwhile, a vengeful Jensen approaches Garza and Munroe to help their side.

Christmas visits Lacy again to find that her new boyfriend has beaten her up. Christmas beats him and his friends, showing Lacy what he does for a living and winning her over. Later, Ross, Christmas, and Yang deduce that Mr. Church is a member of the CIA and that the real target is Munroe, as the CIA could not kill one of their own by sending in the Special Forces or the Navy Seals. Ross meets mission coordinator and former teammate Tool (Mickey Rourke) to vent his feelings of guilt. Tool makes an emotional confession to Ross about letting a woman commit suicide during the Bosnian War, and how he felt that if he had saved her, he could’ve saved what was left of his soul. Hearing this, Ross decides to go back for Sandra, telling Christmas and Yang he will do it alone. Yang however tags along; while driving they are chased on the road by Jensen in a shootout. The pursuit ends in an abandoned warehouse, where Yang and Jensen fight a second time. Jensen attempts to impale Yang on a pipe, only to be shot by Ross. A wounded Jensen, believing he is about to die, makes amends and gives the layout of Garza’s palace. Ross boards the plane with Yang and finds the rest of team, ready to aid their friend.

The Expendables infiltrate Garza’s compound. Christmas, Yang, Caesar, and Toll plant explosive charges throughout the site. When Garza has a change of heart after Munroe tortures his daughter and realized he had changed for the worst, Munroe kills him for his treachery, causing Garza’s loyal men to think it was the Expendables who killed him and scatter in rage. The entire team fights and shoots their way through Garza’s soldiers. Ross and Caesar manage to destroy the helicopter Munroe was to escape on. Christmas and Yang manage to kill The Brit while Toll kills Paine. Ross and Christmas catch up to Munroe and kill him, saving Sandra. Instead of taking the payment for the mission, Ross gives it to Sandra to restore Vilena. The team travels back to New Orleans and celebrate their victory at Tool’s tattoo parlor, with the reformed and recovering Jensen. Christmas and Tool challenge each other to a game of knife throwing and Christmas recites a limerick about his respect for Tool, walking through the door into the street, turning, then throwing a bull’s eye.


 It seems like this has been the year of testosterone laden mercenary action flicks. The Expendables joins the list of films released in the genre that includes The A-Team and The Losers.

Both of those films garnered reviews on both sides of the spectrum, as did this one. However, there is one thing that can’t be ignored, and that is the intense action that all three possess.

The plot here is simple, a bunch of old guy mercenaries for hire get hired for a job and kick ass. Nothing to complicated about that.

However, someone decided to stick some kind of actual story writing in here. Normally, I wouldn’t mind, but for a film like this, I just want to see some kick-ass action.

The film does deliver on that front, but I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more. I understand keeping it saved up for the climax, which was worth the wait, but there wouldn’t have been any shame in giving us some more during the film.

Don’t get me wrong, this thing doesn’t try to be a drama. It is just that, personally, I would have preferred more action.

All that aside, one has to be taken aback by the action stars they brought in here. Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, etc. Even cameos by Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger (who both did their parts for free, btw). Hell, the only one missing was Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Having said that, don’t expect to see to much of anyone other than Stallone and Statham, with a hint of Li. They are the stars of the film, everyone else seems to be glorified extras with a couple of lines here and there. While I applaud this gathering of great action stars, I’m of the belief that if you’re going to have them in the movie, then for goodness sakes, use them.

This picture isn’t all testosterone. Charisma Carpenter and Mexican beauty Gisele Itie are some nice eye candy (especially Carpenter). Unfortunately, they are both the reasons for the slower parts of the film that almost drag it into unnecessary drama.

I really did enjoy this picture. While it wasn’t as good as The A-Team, it was better than The Losers. The gathering of these great action stars along with a pretty good story and kick ass action really makes this a must see for any action fan. I highly recommend it!

4 out of 5 stars

Tron: Legacy

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2010 by Mystery Man



For twenty years, Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) has been haunted by the mysterious disappearance of his father Kevin (Jeff Bridges), an innovative software programmer and former CEO of ENCOM International. During a board of directors’s meeting before the launch of the 12th version of ENCOM’s operating system, Sam breaks in to the company’s headquarters and leaks the OS to the public for free while simultaneously uploading a malicious program into ENCOM’s mainframe. He is arrested and later released by the police. An executive consultant for ENCOM and friend of Kevin, Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner), propositions Sam into investigating a mysterious page originating from the long-abandoned Flynn’s Arcade. While exploring his father’s old stomping grounds, Sam discovers a hidden bunker beneath the arcade, and as he attempts to find information by hacking into his father’s computer, accidentally activates a digitizing laser which transports him to The Grid, a world existing inside the computer.

Sam is quickly captured by The Grid’s sentinels and taken to the Gladiatorial Games. After defeating his first two opponents and attempting to escape, he is pitted against Rinzler, a master of the Games. Sam is subdued and exposed as a human “user,” rather than one of the Grid’s programs. He is taken before The Grid’s leader, Clu (Jeff Bridges), a program created by and resembling Kevin Flynn, whom Sam initially mistakes for his father. Clu forces Sam into a lightcycle battle, which he nearly wins before Clu destroys his lightcycle. As Clu makes his approach to kill Sam, Quorra (Olivia Wilde) intervenes and takes Sam to a hidden fortress “off-grid,” the residence of the actual Kevin Flynn. Upon meeting, Kevin explains that The Grid is his creation, which Clu and Bradley’s Program, Tron, assisted him in building. While working on The Grid, a new life form known as “isomorphic algorithms” (ISOs) manifested, with the potential to unlock huge mysteries in almost every field of science. Clu, designed with the command of creating a “perfect system,” saw the ISOs as imperfect beings, and after betraying Kevin and “derezzing” Tron, seizes control of The Grid and enacts genocide upon the ISOs. Sam proposes that he and his father could escape The Grid via a portal to the real world, but is dismayed when Kevin, despite being trapped on The Grid for 20 years, refuses to pursue an escape. Kevin then reveals that if he were to be captured by Clu, it would be possible for his creation to escape into the real world through the use of his identity disc, which is effectively a “master key” to The Grid.

Upset at the idea of losing his father again, and being stuck within the grid, Sam retreats to his room. Likewise displeased, Quorra gives Sam information leading him to Zuse, who she believes may be able to provide safe passage out of The Grid, while also neutralizing Clu. While searching for Zuse, Sam meets Gem (Beau Garrett), one of the Sirens, who armed him for the games. She tells him that she can lead him to the person he needs to find and takes him to the End of Line Club, run by Castor (Michael Sheen), who is later revealed to be Zuse. Rather than assisting Sam’s escape, Zuse betrays him to Clu’s forces, which arrive and begin an assault on the club. Kevin and Quorra arrive to rescue Sam, and in the commotion, Quorra’s arm is derezzed. The three manage to escape, but not before Kevin’s disc is seized by the Black Guards. Castor offers the disc to Clu in return for control of the city, however, Clu takes the disc and destroys the club, derezzing Castor and Gem in the process. Meanwhile, Sam, Kevin, and Quorra depart the city via a “Solar Sailer,” with the intent of reaching the portal. As Kevin attempts to heal Quorra, she is revealed to be the very last of the ISOs, and that she had been disguised as a Basic by Kevin in order to protect her true identity. After allowing her system to reboot, Sam and Quorra engage in a conversation in which she reveals her desire to see the real world, and in particular, watch a sunrise.

The three unexpectedly arrive at a station onboard a Regulator, a massive warship, where Clu is addressing an army of programs that he has repurposed. Clu reveals his plans to use Kevin’s disc as a means to send himself and the army into the human world in order to “perfect” it. After encountering Rinzler, Quorra opts to sacrifice herself as a distraction so that Sam and Kevin may safely reach the portal, surrendering her identity disc to Kevin in the process. Watching as Quorra is captured, Kevin first lays eyes on Rinzler, whom he immediately recognizes to be Tron, apparently reprogrammed by Clu. As Kevin attempts to secure transportation off of the Regulator, Sam proceeds to recapture Flynn’s disc and save Quorra. The three escape and again head for the portal; however, Clu is informed of the breach and, alongside Rinzler, gives pursuit using their “lightjets.” Sam, Kevin and Quorra manage to destroy majority of their pursuers, until only Clu and Rinzler remain. As Rinzler closes in on the fleeing ship, he makes eye contact with Kevin, and experiences a flashback of himself (as Tron) telling Kevin to run and save himself. Immediately re-discovering his true identity as Tron, Rinzler declares that he “fights for the users,” and uses his lightjet to ram Clu. As the two plummet through the air, Clu forcibly commandeers Rinzler’s spare lightjet, leaving his enforcer to fall toward the sea of simulation below. As Rinzler sinks, the illumination from his armor shifts from red to white, signifying that he has become Tron again, and is a free program.

Sam, Kevin and Quorra finally arrive at the portal, all under the impression that the threat of Clu has ended. However, the still vigilant Clu manages to arrive before them. Kevin attempts to talk Clu down and make amends, but he is cast aside, and Clu again seizes the “master key.” After discovering that the disc in his possession is actually Quorra’s, and that she possess Kevin’s actual disc, an enraged Clu desperately tries to reach the portal. As Sam and Quorra stand in the light of the portal, Kevin connects to The Grid mainframe and merges with Clu, destroying himself and obliterating the surrounding Grid just as Sam and Quorra are transported through the portal and into the real world. Back in Flynn’s Arcade, Sam downloads a backup of The Grid onto a portable device and contacts Alan Bradley, informing him that he will start working at ENCOM on Monday, and that as the controlling interest shareholder of the company, he would name Bradley as chairman of the board. Sam leaves the arcade and meets up with Quorra, whom he takes to watch the sunrise. The ultimate fate of Tron remains unknown


 Tron: Legacy is not a remake, but rather a sequel to 1982’s cult classic Tron. It does seem a bit odd to wait nearly 30 years to make a sequel, but hey, I’m much rather a sequel than a remake any day.

Let me take care of the elephant in the room, first. This film is in 3D. The problem is that it wasn’t originally made in “spectacular” 3D. As has been proven with other films that were converted to this format after they were completed, it just doesn’t work. Thusly, audiences are made to shell out extra to rent cheap glasses to watch something that doesn’t look any different than it would had they have seen it in 2D.

Having said that, there is a disclaimer before the film begins saying that it was originally made in 2D. I suppose they get credit for letting us know, but I can’t help but feel ripped off about the whole 3D experience. If there was any picture that was screaming to take advantage of the technology, this was it. Unfortunately, the only thing that really took advantage of the 3D was the commercials (not the trailers) before the film started. Such a shame!

The story, in a manner similar to the original Tron, is really not even about Tron, but rather Sam Flynn and his search for him father, and himself in some ways. Sure, you can make the case the guy has some daddy issues, but if your dad disappeared every night and then was mysteriously vanished for 20 yrs, wouldn’t you?

In a contrast to the original, this one moves along at a steady pace, and the audience can actually keep up with what is going on. Best thing is, there is no technical jargon to confuse the non computer savvy viewers.

The action is top-notch, but I couldn’t help but wish there was a bit more. One of the problems I had with the original was that it was too heavy on the drama and not enough on the action. This one gives us more action and less drama, but I still wanted more.

Just as Tron pushed the special effects boundaries when it was released, the idea is that Tron: Legacy will do the same thing. I’m not sure it does, but it is still a visual marvel, even if everyone seems to look like some kind of flashlight.

As the film was progressing, I couldn’t help but notice two things that were prevalent. The first was how Flynn was perceived as God in the world of the Grid. To an extent, I guess he is. I mean, he did create the place.

The second was the numerous Star Wars similarities. From the fighters that resembles Imperial starships to the guards and army that might as well have been Imperial Guards and Storm Troopers, at times this felt like a rip-off…or a brilliant homage. I’m not sure which, though.

For a movie that has Tron in the title, you’d think he’d have been in this thing. If you’re looking to see the guy though, you’ll be severely disappointed. He appears in flashbacks, but that’s it. That made no sense to me, especially when one considers what happened to him.

Jeff Bridges reprises his role as Kevin Flynn. Through the miracle of special effects, we get to see him as he was when the original was released, as well as the rugged old man that he is today. As Clu, he is as deluded and deranged as his Obadiah Stane character in Iron Man. As Flynn, he is this strangely serene guy, which is a true contrast to how he was in the original film, making us think that the 20 yrs he’s spent in the grid have mellowed him out.

Garrett Hedlund doesn’t do a bad job as Sam Flynn, but I just didn’t seem to connect with his character. At times he was like Shia LeBouef, always screaming when something bad was about to happen, and at other times, he was like a brilliant action hero.

Olivia Wilde, ironically, looks more human that she normally does. On top of that, she looks like she ate some food. Her character appears to be an apprentice of sorts to Flynn, and it works for her, giving the audience a reason to get behind her character.

Michael Sheen appears as the treacherous Castor/Zuse. As with almost everytime I see this guy, he is almost unrecognizable. I really liked his flamboyant mannerisms, though. It was a bit of Russel Brand, Mick Jagger, and David Bowie all wrapped up as one. He was indeed a joy to watch.

So, what should you do about Tron: Legacy? Well, first of all, you should go watch the original Tron. Then, go check this one out, but don’t waste your money on the 3D version. It just isn’t worth it. The only reason the studio did that is so they could squeeze an extra buck or 2 out of the movie going public. All that said, Tron: Legacy is a really good film. You will have a good time watching it…much better than watching a bunch of magical teenagers run through the woods for 3 hrs.…enjoy!

4 out of 5 stars