- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 26, 2010

28 years later

“Until recently, my experience with the original ‘Tron’ (1982) had been watching it once through on VHS and then showing my students the lightcycle chase and the tanks sequence multiple times as examples of early CGI. Then, in anticipation of the new ‘Tron: Legacy,’ I dug out the old VHS tape and watched ‘Tron’ again, having a good chuckle at Jeff Bridgess hyper, hot dog portrayal of computer programmer Kevin Flynn, but escaping totally into the otherworld the film establishes.

“Though both films feature merely serviceable performances that generate little emotion, and the writing tends toward comic-bookish camp, they both succeed at creating fascinating worlds that take the viewer on unique adventures even though the vast difference in visual quality spans the entire history of CGI. …

“Twenty-eight years later, ‘Tron: Legacy’ benefits from incredible advances in CGI, (while it gains little from 3D) … ‘Tron: Legacy’ takes the machines introduced in the first film and makes them more substantive, imposing, and awesome. We get the lightcycles in a flashy lightcycle battle; we get the H-shaped shuttles, made more threatening by the enhancement of superior sound; and we get much more substantial ‘Solar Sailers.’ “

- “Hokahey,” writing on “Old Grid, New Grid,” on Dec. 19 at his blog Little Worlds

Getting Facebook

“This fully fictionalized [final ‘Social Network’] scene doesn’t quite get at the kind of narcissism that Facebook both feeds on and compels. As much as it’s an ideal tool for stalking exes (and their current girlfriends, and roommates, and co-workers …), Facebook isn’t about projecting a fantasy on to others as much as it’s about transmitting fantasy versions of ourselves. (This is why, when you’re not actively engaged in propagating your own myth, spending time on Facebook can feel like being yelled at.)

“The final scene of ‘The Social Network’ rings false because a guy in [Mark] Zuckerberg’s situation wouldn’t be refreshing the girl’s profile for the affirmation of the accepted friend request - he’d be refreshing his own. At least, that’s what I would have done. ‘The Social Network’ made it possible for me to go through the thought process that allowed me to recognize the ways in which Facebook enabled the elements of my personality that I most despise. And so I quit.

- Karina Longworth, writing on “The Social Network, Or Why I Quit Facebook” on Dec. 23 at L.A. Weekly

Unlikely ‘Fighter’

“Of course Mark Wahlberg had trouble getting ‘The Fighter’ made. If you ran a studio and your job depended on picking projects that made money, would a movie centered on boxing, crack and Boston accents grab your attention? You’d know going in that …

“(A) Sports movies rarely make money internationally, so your profit margin hinges almost entirely on domestic gross and DVD/digital/cable sales. … (B) There have been 35 boxing movies released in the past 35 years. … (C) It’s notoriously difficult to drag womenfolk to hard-core sports movies, especially boxing flicks. … (D) We’re so accustomed to seeing every boxing movie end the same way - with our hero winning the big fight - that even though we love having curveballs thrown at us in the theater, it always feels disconcerting if a boxing movie ends unhappily. Well, unless Hilary Swank is paralyzed and subsequently suffocated to death by Clint Eastwood.”

- Bill Simmons, writing on “Sports movies continue to evolve,” on Dec. 10 at ESPN.com

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