Tuesday, December 7, 2010

This Isn't Your Grandma's Looking Glass

"The time has come, Walrus old friend,
To test our many stills.
The oohs, the ahhs, the healing drops,
The passions, the thrills,
And to see how joy and awe and lust
can all be turned to pills"

- Syfy's miniseries Alice (2009)

In Canada we don't have this Syfy channel, but we do have Showcase, which aired Tin Man back in 2008, and so I was just a tad interested to see this new re-imagining of the classic Lewis Carrol novel. Showcase did in fact air Alice in 2009, and it was definitely interesting. You see, as a child, I had always been partial towards Alice in Wonderland whether it was in movie or book form. I went and saw the midnight opening screening of the recent Tim Burton film earlier this year. But this, was altogether different. Teas brewed from emotions traded like stocks on the market. And just about every character was there, just not in the ways we remember them. The Hatter owned a tea shop (which would make sense) with his friend the timid doormouse working in sales. His old friend "Mad" March Hare - Get it? It's the Hare that's mad, not the Hatter - is the Queen of Hearts most beloved assassin, in charge of finding Alice and a magical ring she possesses.

The first thing you'll notice of course, is that things are a little less "anthropomorphic" - that is to say, that most every "creature" from the Wonderland we remember is actually a nicknamed Human. The few animals in the show do not actually talk, and gives the show a good sense of reality, without losing some of the fantasy. In fact the show is, in my opinion, more fantasy than ever.

Brief synopsis for people who seem to rely on them to make movie-watching decisions: Alice Carrol (Any guesses to the tribute there?) is a black belt martial arts instructor who is unlucky in love, until she meets Jack. When Jack gets kidnapped, she follows his kidnapper, wearing two rabbit-ear like ponytails, into an abandoned building and through a looking glass into a fantastical world, the same wonderland 150 years after the original children's tale, where she gets lost, kidnapped herself, and then only the Hatter and a valiant white knight named Charlie can save her, but not until she finds out what happened to Jack, and the clues she keeps finding about her father, who disappeared when she was ten.

As she follows the clues, she gets curiouser and curiouser, but then again, curiosity killed the Cheshire cat...

"Do I need a reason to help a pretty girl in a wet dress?"

- Hatter

While this two-part mini series failed to gain the attention that Tin Man had, and will likely never have a strong enough following to gain cult status, if you want something weird and unusual this just might be "your cup of tea."

Friday, December 3, 2010

Why We Love Tron

Okay, aside from Star Wars (1977) has any movie done as much to promote CGI as Tron (1982)? I mean, sure, Dykstra placed close to 300 CGI effects in Episode IV: A New Hope but Tron was almost nothing but special effects. I mean, sure, it looks like child's play compared to today's CGI, but really, how many commercial programmers even remember how to map 3D images on a Commadore 64 anymore? In reality, back in 1982 it was also a hell of lot more complex and more time consuming to create those special effects than it is now. So to the gentlemen at Walt Disney Studios and wherever they contracted their engineers from, I salute you.

Tron was an instant cult classic. It was virtually a blockbuster in it's day, but it hasn't stood the test of time in a the same way it's previously mentioned Wars rival has. Sure, everyone's heard of Tron, but everyone has seen at least one of the original three Star Wars flicks. Let's face it, people who were in their teens in the early 80's still fondly remember this movie. Their kids however either haven't watched it, or are just not as impressed as their parents were - which surprises me, because this is the same generation that's impressed by Justin Bieber. You would think that means it wouldn't take much.

But to the people of that generation that remembers Tron, of which I am not (I am actually between the Tron generation and the Bieber generation) there is an eagerness and a reluctance to see the new Tron: Legacy when it comes out. Movie afficiandos of my generation who are largely responsible for the cult status of Tron and keeping alive in the underground are also having mixed feelings. Would it be nice to see the world of Tron rendered under today's technology? Sure. Will there be an appreciation for the extra time and effort put into this? Maybe. Will it be completely groundbreaking? Unlikely. Let's face it, seeing humans interact with 3D Computer animation happens all the time nowadays. And "Real3D" movies have been around for a few years  now. I personally am not expecting anything I haven't seen before, and to that extent, that is the element that will likely be missing from the much anticipated sequal.