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The New Serg Beret

Talking and Writing About Cinema Since 2012

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June 2016

Personal Ramblings: Dreaming of a World I Thought We’d Never See

“The Grid. A digital frontier. I tried to picture clusters of information as they moved through the computer. What did they look like? Ships? motorcycles? Were the circuits like freeways? I kept dreaming of a world I thought I’d never see. And then, one day…” – Kevin Flynn, TRON: Legacy, 2010

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It was around the strange days of freshman year in high school that I had heard of the film called TRONTRON is a cult film from 1982 produced by Walt Disney Pictures involving Kevin Flynn, played by Jeff Bridges, entering the strange world of the computer on the grid. Flynn as his program CLU teamed up with TRON, played by Bruce Boxleitner, took take down the nefarious MCP (Master Control Program), voiced by David Warner, and his assistant Sark, also played by David Warner. It’s a well-known piece of 80’s pop culture that has been ingrained in the heads of those obsessed with technology.

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Me and Jerry, my best friend, knew about it from Kingdom Hearts II through a world within the game called “Space Paranoids.” We were attracted to sights of the level and the sounds it brought. It being in the video game brought the world of TRON to a new light and gave us an interest into the concept. Fortunately, it also allowed both of us to dream a dream project based off something that astounded us within: the lightcycle.

We were hooked. Imagine riding one of those bad boys in real life with sharp turns, neon glowing down the street and being immersed into what it can do. That’s when the dream started to take shape.

“Man, that part with Sora in the lightcycle was the shit. Dude, they should make that into a ride or something,” Jerry said with childlike enthusiasm.

“The Disney Imagineers should get on this ASAP. Wait, screw it, we can make the TRON ride,” I replied back.

The TRON ride was a dream in our heads along with being a constant topic brought up in small talk. The talks got more serious every time it was brought up.

“There needs to be a way to perfect the perfect 90 degree turn or, at the very least, cheat it out,” I brought up one day.

“Dude, it’s easy. We just have to assemble some piston that can help amplify the turn to make it feel like a sharp right angle,” Jerry said as I gave him the “I’m not that smart, sorry” glare.

Jerry took time to figure out what was needed for the ride. I began looking at roller coasters and studying what makes them thrilling and exciting. I also tried to find the perfect car for it all. One day on a visit to Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, Calif., me and Jerry, along with with my cousin Donovan, saw a ride that gave us the perfect car to use.

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The Pony Express Source: Knott’s Berry Farm

Pony Express uses a motorbike car in order to replicate the feeling of riding a horse or a motorcycle. We got on the ride and looked at each other on launch.

“This is perfect for the TRON ride. It’s actually really comfor…” Jerry said as the ride launched and we were on our way to TRON ride bliss with our dream in tact.

As the years went by and a sequel released in 2010, our interest piqued once again to examine the new style of lightcycle and see if it can add anything.

It was neat to see the new designs take shape along with the new ways they move, even eliminating the sharp 90 degree turn. Jerry saw the design and dug the aesthetics of the way it looks, but still wanted it to be based on the original film due to the 80’s still being big. The sequel gave the audience of the modern world another vision of a fully realized world and I felt we could take some of the aspects of that and insert it into the ride.

Little did we know that this dream was already in the planning stages of turning into a ride. This year, the dream we’d never thought we see was realized at Shanghai Disneyland.

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 This is a beautiful sight to behold. (Source: Shanghai Disney Resort)

Shanghai Disneyland is now home to a dream ride known as TRON Lightcycle Power Run. From what I gathered from the website, the ride allows people to experience the beauty of the lightcycle and the Grid to face off against evil programs in a race that is sure to be thrilling. It sounds awesome and better than what we can imagine. We imagined a ride closer to that of the classic Grid, but this goes above and beyond the call of what we dreamed. Yes, we are upset it doesn’t cheat out a beautiful 90 degree turn, but it accomplished something. Something I’d never thought we’d see.

The Franchise Runner: “Spider-Man 2” (2004)

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After the monster success of the first film, the idea of making a sequel was a no-brainer. Everyone was back on board for the next chapter to continue on with the story of Peter Parker and his balancing act being Spider-Man. Yet, the stakes seem higher in Spider-Man 2 with a new villain in the form of Doc Ock wrecking havoc on Manhattan and Harry Osborn growing more in anger finding the spider who “killed” his father.

Did I mention Peter also loses his powers at one point? This movie did not hold back.

Mild-mannered Peter Parker, once again played by Tobey McGuire, is trying to get through his life with a job. Of course, he is constantly getting fired, being late to class and restless due to his hero work. Parker is still fawning over Mary Jane Watson aka MJ, played by Kirsten Dunst, who has actually achieved her goal of being a model and actress.

Parker promises to make up for his lack of schoolwork by doing his report for Dr. Curt Connors’ class, played by Dylan Baker in a ‘wink and nudge’ role, on a nuclear fusion experiment by Dr. Otto Octavius, played by Alfred Molina. Through Harry Osborn, played by James Franco, Parker is able to met with Dr. Octavius in a meeting. In this meeting, Parker learns not just about the dynamic force of romance through Octavius and his wife, but of his own brilliance and laziness.

Meanwhile, Parker tries to make MJ’s performances in The Importance of Being Ernest. MJ does not accept Peter’s shortcomings and moves on to J. Jonah Jameson’s kid John Jameson, played by Daniel Gillies. By moving on, MJ means the two are engaged to be married.

Parker witnesses Octavius perform his experiment with ease and four tentacle-like mechanisms attached to his brain to harness a solar nuclear fusion ball. The ball becomes unbalanced to cause destruction, kill Octavius’ wife and make the tentacles become one with him. Parker rapidly changes to Spidey mode to face off Doc Ock and save the day…somewhat. Doc Ock escapes and proceeds to start a life of crime to build a replication of his equipment and his dream project.

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Spider-Man No More: Peter Parker gives up the suit

As Parker goes about his routine, his mind starts to be drowned in over thinking that it clouds the strength of his powers. Parker sees this as a sign to give up the game as a hero and go about a life of normalcy. Parker sees Aunt May, played by Rosemary Harris, and blames the death of Uncle Ben on himself. Aunt May forgive Parker and gives Peter the strength to become Spider-Man.

Meanwhile, Doc Ock is ready to make a deal with Osborn in order to acquire Tritium. The deal includes getting the item, but in return giving him the life of Spider-Man. This builds into a fight on a train against Spider-Man and Doc Ock in which, despite giving his best effort, Parker does get his ass laid out to be delivered to Osborn. Osborn is ready for the kill and takes off the mask to see Parker’s face. Osborn is stunned even though Parker ensures him that he did not kill his father. Osborn gives up the location of Octavius after Parker convinces him that Doc Ock is going to cause more harm than good.

Parker heads over to Octavius’ location where he has taken a hold of MJ hostage. Parker tries to reason with Octavius in a bitter fight and shows him who really is behind the mask. This allows Octavius to give up on his vision and drown into the Hudson River with it. Parker and MJ escape as Doc Ock drowns. MJ knows that Parker is Spider-Man and ditches John at the alter to run toward him the next day. MJ tells Parker to “Go get ’em, tiger” and Parker swings in the skies.

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Tigeress Stare: Mary Jane sees Spider-Man take off and go.

Spider-Man 2 stills holds up as a top notch superhero film with amazing performances, spectacular action and superior storytelling.

Molina as Doc Ock impresses with a heart of gold and intelligence in his performance. He is a man obsessed with his own dream unrealized and it shows in the weight of his role. Mcguire becomes a stronger performer under the mask and really hones in being Spider-Man. He shows his strength in being both the hero and the everyman. Everyone else is just a notch above their original performances.

The action ups the original by giving a bigger and broader spectrum. The train scene alone combines martial arts, wire fu and pure action in a set piece that rivals others. Another highlight is the fight on the side of a building with Raimi showing the audience the scale of the battle by following the action as it goes up and down the building.

The story is excellent with Parker struggling tobw grrater than what he is and dealing with the possibility of failure and hatred by others. It gives the film humanity and grounds it in reality, despite the “powers gone” part not really making a whole lot of sense.

Spider-Man 2 is a grand sequel and, arguably, the best film of the trilogy. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the next film in the trilogy.

Film A Week Podcast: Episode 1 “Purple Rain”

Dig if you will this picture…

Film A Week Podcast begins Season 1 of its year long look into cinema with 1984’s Purple Rain.

Hosts Serg Beret and Patrick Raissi purify themselves into the waters of Lake Minnetonka to encounter the majesty of the late Prince, the cackles of Morris Day and the beauty of Apollonia. Beret also reveals the rotating selection of guest hosts, themed months, Criterion of the Month and Classics Revisited of the Month.

Lyrics: “Late Sleeper”

The moon is out with the stars
I’m outside chasing cars
Confident one can hit me
And take me out to a paradise I wish to see
I just want to out of this place to refrain
You rape me in the words of Kurt Cobain
Not physically, but mentally
Stanley Milgram in disguise
I’m sure one day I can again rise
Not for you, but for a friend
One ready to take it to the end
But till then I’ll sleep on it
If I can actually get to bed

Late sleeper dreaming away from life
He is seeking a love without strife
The last one burned him tonight
His being is the only one he can fight

Late sleeper dreaming
He can’t wake up
Late sleeper drifting
He can’t come back
Late sleeper dreaming
He can’t wake up
Late sleeper drifting
He can’t come back

There in bed, he sleeps alone
In my heart was his home
Evicted by emotions that rage
He fears going back in my cage
“You did nothing wrong” I say
So why do you feel worthless anyway?

Late sleeper dreaming away from life
He is seeking a love without strife
The last one burned him all night
His being is the only one he can fight

Late sleeper dreaming
He can’t wake up
Late sleeper drifting
He can’t come back
Late sleeper dreaming
He can’t wake up
Late sleeper drifting
He can’t come back

Surely, one day I’ll sleep, maybe even twice
Alcohol does not help, writing is my only vice
Use the pen, never the sword
You having a great life is such a fine reward
Now back to sunset filled dreams of the one
A lady in waiting that never seems to come
As I drown in tears for you
I’ll leave it up to you to see if they are red or blue

Late sleeper dreaming away from life
He is seeking a love without strife
The last one burned him all night
His being is the only one he can fight

Late sleeper dreaming
He can’t wake up
Late sleeper drifting
He can’t come back
Late sleeper dreaming
He can’t wake up
Late sleeper drifting
He can’t come back

The Franchise Runner: “Spider-Man” (2002)

Welcome to The Franchise Runner. This written series focuses on those movie franchises that have taken over our hearts and our hard earned dollars. They’ve exploited their popularity, their characters and their premise to go beyond the constraints of one story. As with anything else, this can either be a great epic series like The Lord of the Rings Trilogy or drawn out to cash in on fan’s loyalty like The Twilight Saga.

Every franchise (hopefully) will get a look at their rise, fall and eventual rise as time goes on film by film. With bigger franchises with too many films or specific stories such as Star Wars, Batman or Marvel, those will be broken up into sections as to not be exhaustive. Also, James Bond is out of the question as that was covered back in 2012 in the 007 in 23 series (though Spectre was covered in a one-off recently).

Without further ado, let’s begin our run with some web slinging thrown in for good measure.

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Spider-Man was a dream come true for many a kid when it released in 2002. I remember specifically waiting in line for over an hour just to get inside to see it opening weekend.

Spider-Man himself had been a long wait before coming to the big screen. At one point, James Cameron, the master behind The Terminator and Titanic, was attached to it and went as far to write a script treatment for it. Cameron’s vision was more adult-oriented than the vision cooked up by Sam Raimi. Raimi is well known for The Evil Dead franchise and for diving into different genres with the greatest of ease. Him being attached to Spider-Man never sounded too far-fetched. The main casting, however, seems to be a bit questionable just reading it on paper.

Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson seems like a no brainer as she can rock the “Girl Next Door” look with the best of them. Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn/Green Goblin can be a powerful and cheese worthy perfromance. Tobey McGuire as Peter Parker  is a bit of a stretch. He’s good and all, but to take on the awkwardness of Pete and the responsibilities of Spider-Man seems to be outside of what he can due. He’s more subdued than anything. Luckily, that was proven wrong in this first outing of the our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

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Spider-Man (Tobey McGuire) decides to test his web shots

Spider-Man starts with Peter Parker doing his typical nerd duties, living in Queens, New York, with his Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) and Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson) and eyeing Mary Jane Watson from a distance. One day while on a field trip to a science lab to take pictures for the paper, he is bit by a genetically mutated spider, a departure from the old radioactive spider in the comics.

Peter reacts oddly to it all causing Harry Osborn (James Franco) some concern. He heads home only to pass out and wake up in the morning toned and ready to be the man he always wanted to be. Him and Uncle Ben talk later on about him not being as responsible and him having to accept that he has the power to balance it out. He decides to use his new powers to get money for a new car by wrestling in a match at a indie show. He goes up against Bonesaw (“Macho Man” Randy Savage) and is given the name Spider-Man from one of three Bruce Campbell cameos in this trilogy. Unfortunately, Uncle Ben is killed by a random mugger making Peter take this hero business seriously while also trying to make ends meet at the Daily Bugle under the rule of J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons).

Meanwhile, Norman Osborn is testing out a new serum for the government to help the military succeed with more power and a glider for some reason. Anyway, he decides to test it himself one night to prove that the serum is completely safe. It isn’t, killing a scientist and going on a rampage that borders between split personality and Willem Dafoe just being Willem Dafoe. Thus, the Green Goblin is born and the two must duke it out in order to make sure the Green Goblin causes no more harm to Peter, his family and friends and even New York.

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Spider-Man (Tobey McGuire) and Mary Jane Watson kiss in the rain

The first film of Spidey’s adventures is an odd one to say the least. It is not that it is a bad film, but it is incredibly dated. Spider-Man hits the right notes of a superhero movie and no one comes off as bored during it.

McGuire is a perfect fit for Peter Parker by capturing the human side of the titular hero, but the Spider-Man part needs a bit of work. Wonder if the sequel will change those view. Dunst is perky and fun as Mary Jane, even if she serves more as a plot device than an actual character. Dafoe as Norman Osborn is golden. He chews the scenery with ease and feels like a genuine threat. Other supporting ruols are great with Robertson as a warm and kindhearted uncle, but the best of all is J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah. The man oozes charisma and makes every scene his own.

The direction is solid with Raimi’s quick edits and close-ups capturing the comic book world like he has been practicing for this moment his whole life. Raimi makes shots look grander than they are. The action is fast-paced, energetic and fun to keep the audience’s attention going. The story is paced well and never has a dull moment of bore. Raimi does have a few minor missteps, but that’s mostly on the effects side of things.

The effects are god awful. They do not hold up at all and that’s not a good thing. In the same year where The Two Towers came out, this film has effects that are laughable even by today’s standards. The entire Times Square sequence proves it as it seems like amateur hour at Industrial Light & Magic with interns. Heck, this scene even proves how dated it is out in the open with a Macy Gray performance that honestly goes nowhere. Yet, this is a minor fault in a otherwise good film.

Overall, Spider-Man is a good comic book movie and a fun starting point in a trilogy that would only get better in the next entry: Spider-Man 2 (2004).

This Thursday
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Lyrics: “Glimmer”

The ray comes into view
Endless dreadful thoughts in lieu
Of carefree dreams
The bed starts to grow
Larger than it was before
It is not as small as it should be

Mind, oh how you wander
All about in the halls of fantasies
Legs, how you beg me to move
I’ve been laying sleepless holding onto
Distant promises of the future

There’s the light again
Shining down on me
It’s of an embrace
Of the night turning to dawn soon

This strength has been dead
Hours upon hours stuck in bed
Cherry blossoms fall
Waves crash onto rocks
The stars filled with wishes
Now dismantled goals

Mind, oh how you wander
All about in the doors of yesterday
Legs, how you beg me to move
I’ve been trying to break them down
So I will never move

There’s the light again
Shining down on me
It’s of an embrace
Of the night turning to dawn soon

If it turns out to be
A brighter day
I think I’ll make my way
Out into the world
And meet a stranger that accepts

There’s the light again
Shining down on me
It’s of an embrace
Of the night turning to dawn soon

Lyrics: “Afflatus”

Little heart inside
Courageous being I find
You make up reasons to stay
But never believe me when I say
That I’ll never bind you or take you
And toss you away

The secrets, keep them coming
These lies you hid from me
Put me out into the sunlight
To burn up my hide

Where do you get off
Leaving me behind?
How could you say
You still admire me
Are you mad to think
I’ll ever come back?

I’m so much stronger
Than you gave me credit for
I’m much better off
I’m so much braver
Than I gave you credit for
I’m much better off

You think it’s all so simple
To stay behind the wall
Of characters, symbols, and numbers
To reveal the mouse you are

The secrets all lack substance
The lies do not add up
Push me off a high rise
To fall into an invisible savior

Where do you get off
Tossing me aside?
How could you say
You still admire me
Are you mad to think
I’d ever forgive you?

I’m so much stronger
Than you gave me credit for
I’m much better off
I’m so much braver
Than I gave you credit for
I’m much better off

Where do you get off
Going away to hide?
How could you say
You’re still infatuated
You are mad to think
I’d want to hold you again

I’m so much stronger
Than you gave me credit for
I’m much better off
I’m so much braver
Than I give you credit for
You can say I’m better off

I can say I’m better off

Lyrics: “Silent Treatments”

Harsh words you speak are
Ever so off
Did I not cherish
Or did you give up
On us, on trust, on your friends
Your fragile mind is winning instead

Push me, attack me, fuck my being
You say you want me, but this is not how
Wanting admiration works
Your maturity has faded into air

Silent treatments help you cope
But guess they never work
Abandon me here to ponder why
It could not work
Words unspoken of
Start to hide the truth
Whatever happened to
The one I knew

Chemistry of your brain starts to plane
Voices come to caress you and
Make you feel their reign
Such a shame you gave into their pain

I treated you as royalty
You never saw that in yourself
A false patriarch of romance
That spun out of control

Silent treatments help you cope
But guess they never work
Abandon me here to ponder why
It could not work
Words unspoken of
Start to hide the truth
Whatever happened to
The one I knew

Lyrics: “RGHTS”

Curse my name aloud
Breaking all my lines
Blood seeping out from my skin
Now you’ve cut me up
I’ll turn away and hide

Spitting out harsh truths
Must I claim their lies?
Subtlely is not my greatest strength
So just cut me up
I’ll hang on every word

There is too much acid
Spilling from your open grin
Yes, I’m trembling
Yes, I’m crumbling
There’s a side I’ve never seen
A scope aimed and locked on me
Yes, I’m trembling
Yes, I’m crumbling

Take me out as fast as you can
Read my rights before I leave land

Precision wit starts to strike
This heart I built inside
Scrambled red matter dripping
As you cut me up
My words are just mumbled thoughts

Someone innocent so pent up with hate
Proceeds to blind out my eyes
You have cut me up
Didn’t see that one coming

There is too much acid
Spilling from your open grin
Yes, I’m trembling
Yes, I’m crumbling
There’s a side I’ve never seen
A scope aimed and locked on me
Yes, I’m trembling
Yes, I’m crumbling

Take me out as fast as you can
Read my rights before I leave land

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