Author Archives: scruffythinking

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‘… and they watched the fire which does contain within it something of men themselves inasmuch as they are less without it and are divided from their origins and are exiles. For each fire is all fires, the first fire and the last ever to be.’

Oh snap, you caught me. I thought I’d try to sneak back in here whilst you were chewing on the apocalyptic verse of Cormac ‘were all going to die’ McCarthy. Ah well Hiya! It’s me Scruffy, returned after a five-month tenure visiting all the sacred sites of the major and minor religions in order to gain a greater spiritual insight into the self and the act of blogging as a meditative release.

Henceforth Metajunkies shall strive to be bigger, stronger, funnier, more productive, more sensual, more relevant, better written, more serious, less serious, less dedicated to pithy throwaway cultural references and finally, thanks to the lengthy sermons of Pastor Aloysius Avarice of Waynesville, North Carolina, much, much more radically Right-Wing.

Unfortunately Sharpie is away, giving seminars on advanced IED defusal to private military contractors in an as yet un-named location, so I shall be at the helm for a while, but never fear, no doubt she’ll come slinking back once the money runs out.

Right, before we start there’s some house-keeping to get out of the way:

E-MAILS: None

COMMENTS: None

SUBSCRIBERS: One! Congratulations ijm1983@yahoo.co.uk for your staunch and steadfast support when all others recognised a sinking ship when they saw one, I’ll buy you a pint out of that thirty quid I owe you.

Now, on with the show.

(EDIT: ijm1983@yahoo.co.uk just contacted me in a lengthy and some may argue foul-mouthed e-mail saying I actually owe him forty quid and if I don’t get it to him soon he’ll send a crew of Rough Lads packing brass doorknobs in burlap sacks to pound my kidneys into a bloody urine pâté.)

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In which Zack Synder is compared to a drunken frat-boy with an erection.

Once upon a time we at Metajunkies had a dream, a special dream. We wanted to create a website which celebrated art, culture and just a little bit of love. A website which saw not the cruel and stupid and ugly in society but instead recognised all that is beautiful and good and worthy about human kind. Alas, as with all things, that dream quickly, quietly died. Aborted, as like a bird never even allowed the chance to take flight. Nowadays we spend our time reviewing Sucker Punch.

Ah, Zack Snyder, what have ye done? Didn’t you realise you had a good thing going simply taking the works of greater men and adding a slow-motion tracking shot and an anachronistic cover of a popular song? Why else do you think those delivery men kept on dropping off bushels of money at your door?  How the fuck else can you now afford that yacht shaped like The Hulk’s angry fist? It certainly wasn’t your keen understanding of character, or pacing, or even basic coherence.

That’s right, the man who didn’t think there was anything slightly peculiar, if not downright ironic about the latent xenophobia present in Frank Miller’s 300 has been given the opportunity to make a movie about anything he damn well pleases. The results are less a film and more a comprehensive list of Zack Snyder’s personal psychiatric problems, as filtered through the eyes of a monkey masturbating in the throes of a Ritalin dervish.

So, whilst slugging back Bud Lites and catching the game in an idiot’s sports bar Snyder was beset by a drunk academic who smelt of the sea and potential gone to rot. It was in the rough course of the scholar’s gin talk that the director’s brain heard about this computer game or something called The Bell Jar. Snyder soon found himself helplessly intrigued, not by the story of a young woman’s descent into depression and madness, but how this Plath dude could miss out on what all truly great works of art need; the holy trinity of guns, swords and tits, and robots, and Nazis! In the trenches!

Nerdgasm!

Dizzy with possibilities, Snyder fist-bumped the now incoherent wino and raced out of the bar, almost tripping over his unlaced sneakers with excitement. This was fantastic. All his life Snyder felt different, felt special. Now, finally, he was going to prove it to the world. All he needed was to get his awesome owl film out of the way.

Okay, so almost none of that scene took place, but I think it does replicate the basic impulses that drive Snyder onward. If he had decided to simply release a quadrate of music-videos detailing his every stupid fantasy then that would have been… well, not fine exactly, but understandable. Instead he had to place them in a framing narrative that becomes sillier the further down the rabbit-hole we go. That a recently-institutionalised woman should retreat into a fantasy world so as to escape the horrors of her situation makes sense. The fact that this is the fantasy world not of a damaged young lady in the sixties but of a mentally-stunted World of Warcraft enthusiast is less so.

In fact said institution is itself too much of a downer for Snyder, so let’s turn it into a high-class brothel. Sweet! Unfortunately Snyder has a child-like approach to human sexuality and thinks that women spend exactly one half of their time gyrating lustily on a man’s lap and the other half getting raped. In fact ‘getting raped’ seems to be the only threat Snyder can possibly envisage for a woman. It happened in 300 for no good reason and there was a very intense scene again in his Watchmen adaptation which was only alluded to in the graphic-novel. Sucker Punch has been described, by me at least, as the horrible sex-fantasy of a demented misogynist. I don’t actually think that’s the case. The tone of the film is simply too childish to be truly offensive. Then again, Synder mysteriously made some concessions to the ratings board, having to cut several scenes so that it could be a PG-13. You could confidently take your children to watch this film knowing that they will only leave the cinema with a vague sense of depression. In fact I thought that the women of Sucker Punch were almost too beautiful. They made me want to court them Edwardian style, placing my coat on the floor so they didn’t have to tread in peasant shit.

As for the violence, well there isn’t any, not unless you seriously feel for the plight of imaginary orcs and steam-powered Nazi-men. The action itself looks pretty, as it tends to in Snyder’s films, however due to the central conceit of the film, that it all takes place in a fantasy, there is never any sense of risk or danger. In fact with no tangible connection between the fantastic scenarios except for that created in Snyder’s stupid mind, it is almost impossible to care about what happens during these sequences. Which is peculiar considering what happens involves giant samurai with chain-guns which is basically what I think about when I’m taking a dump without a book.

The cast itself isn’t up to much either. Jon Hamm makes the most confused-looking cameo I’ve seen in quite a while, which is understandable seen as by that point the film stopped making sense about seventy minutes ago. The women look beautiful as I said but given the amount of dialogue in the film that is basically all they have the opportunity to do. In fact I don’t think that the ­main-character, Babydoll (Emily Browning) actually says a word for the first forty-five minutes as Snyder is too obsessed with turning everything into a music video to remember that he’s dealing with actors and not backing-dancers. Also I fear that if you decided to speed the film up to real time it wouldn’t last more than five minutes.

Overall Sucker Punch is the greatest example of style over substance I can think of, and when I say ‘style’ I mean a protracted music video involving the cast of Final Fantasy VIII fighting the Helghast in the middle of Arkham Asylum. In fact if you understood everything about that last sentence then this film is probably for you.


In which a Nicholas Cage film is compared to a motorway littered with dead people.

HUAaaRRGH! I mean- what? Hello? When is Up? What colour does red smell like? Hello?

Bollocks. It’s actually happened. After twenty-three years my mind has finally succumbed to madness, snapping like brittle twigs in an autumn park. Now, like Guy Pearce’s tormented amnesiac in Memento, I’ve had to spend the last two days trying to piece together what it is that led me on Wednesday night to tear off my clothes and race through the eldritch corners of Manchester, shrieking horribly that He Has Come.

And as it turns out my spiral into the undulating maw of insanity was not caused by drugs or the Higgs boson particle, or even Sunn 0))). It was Drive Angry 3D, the latest car-crash movie to star Nicholas Cage. Now, when I say ‘car-crash’ I mean that in two respects; the first is that you can only watch this thing with the same kind of startled, macabre awe that you may normally gift a rather unseemly seven-vehicle pile-up on the M6, splintered bones and bits of children smeared across the tarmac, the other respect is much more literal in that if you don’t notice a Dodge Charger smashing hood first into something at least every two minutes then you must have been stricken blind with stupidity.

Drive Angry is so nefariously dumb it almost comes across as a scientific experiment in movie excess, the abstract being: What would happen if we gave a director an unlimited supply of explosions, cocaine and Nicholas Cage’s weird, glowering face? The answer, you would be forgiven for presuming, would be for the Earth itself to rip itself in twain and belch forth a fiery porridge of concentrated evil, and in some roundabout way you’d be right.

Because somewhere below this great ocean of stupid slumbers the ancient coelacanth of a plot. I must admit I can’t remember very much of it, shocked as I was by the twin jumper leads of Cage and Vodka. However a quick perusal of the internet gave me some indicators. Nicholas Cage is ‘Nicholas Cage’, a hard as nails career criminal with a bad attitude and even worse hair. He has just escaped Hell in order to seek revenge on a Satanic cult out to ritually sacrifice his grand-daughter, because that is simply what Satanic cults do. The cult is led by Jonah King (Billy Burke) whose pure, inept malevolence oozes out of his every pore to soak into his ridiculous silk shirt. He reminded me of Peter Stormare’s equally daft role in 8mm, which also starred Nicholas Cage, cinema’s Litmus test of quality.

Along for the ride is Piper (Amber Heard) a sassy waitress clearly impressed by Cage’s ability to beat up her boyfriend and steal her car. There isn’t any actual reason why Piper is involved beyond what must have been a very important clause in the explosions and cocaine contract involving women and the inevitable ogling thereafter. Ah well, she does play a very sassy waitress. Finally, hot on the duo’s heels comes The Accountant, played by That Guy. Y’know That Guy. The dude from the bank robbery scene at the start of The Dark Knight and I think he was in Armageddon and possibly Black Hawk Down and some other things. That Guy is actually William Fichtner, who plays his part rather excellently as the Devil’s right hand man. In fact everybody seems in on the joke in this film, from the lowliest buck-toothed redneck to the, well, the lowliest trailer-trash slag bag. Everybody that is, except Nicholas Cage, who wears a mask of constipated annoyance throughout the film and refuses to take it off.

I was seriously hoping for Cage to go full retard in this film, howling and gibbering, cursing the devil through sloppy tears of anguish. Instead he gives a comparatively restrained performance, as if this entire film acts purely as a means to solve a costly tax problem. Fuck that though, this is Nicholas Cage, Man of Action, which, as a highly evolved race capable of space-exploration and cracking the atom, is what we all really care about. So, action. Once again I can’t really remember much of it except for the aforementioned Dodge Charger driving rather furiously down a seemingly never-ending highway with an entire police force chasing after it. I do recall it being pretty good in a fuck the environment kind of way, plus there’s a fabulous scene where Cage is able to foil an ambush whilst in the throes of (admittedly not very passionate) coitus, never losing his rhythm throughout. This would have been more impressive if it hadn’t already been done in the equally dopey Shoot ‘Em Up. I can’t remember what relevance this scene had precisely, but here it is in all it’s Completely Fine and Safe For Work Especially with the Volume Turned Up glory.

Oh, look’s like it’s been taken down for copyright infringement. Oh well here’s something else you may enjoy.

I don’t begrudge the film for taking my money, I was drinking vodka after all. Also if I’d downloaded it then I would’ve missed out on all the wonderful 3D, which I honestly can’t be dicked about discussing because I said most of what I wanted to say on that subject in my Tron: Legacy review. All that the extra dimension really did is make the person next to me flinch every now and then whenever a chunk of car or pellet of brain matter came flying out of the screen. I’m sure it would be cheaper for everyone involved if they just paid the ushers to throw pop-corn kernels at us instead. Whatever, bollocks to 3D.

And, now that it’s all said and done, what did we learn? Not very much actually, except that a sequel would be excellent, especially if they called it Drive Angrier, and included 100% more of The Accountant, who was shamefully underused. Aside from, that… uh. I think I left the cinema stupider which is probably what led to the pantless shrieking incident, and for me to daub all over my room in blood-black ink: ‘IT DOESN’T MAKE A LICK OF SENSE!’

The End.


What’s in a name? James Blake and the curse of erroneous labelling.

God, is it February already? Either the years are getting shorter, or my faculties for temporal processing became mangled during the jabbering chaos of the New Year. I swear I’ve been writing a review of Harry Potter for about seven months, with nary a paragraph to show for it, and now I’m about to review an album which I won’t listen to for another three days. Have I finally become unstuck?

Probably, because it doesn’t seem like it’s been almost four years since the summer that Benga & Skream’s ‘Night’ brought dubstep wobbling and stomping into the mainstream and that dark winter that saw the release of Burial’s majestic second album, Untrue. Since then you can’t go to the shops anymore without being overwhelmed by the relentless whomp whomp whomp of a devastating soundboy riddim, to the extent that BBC news 24 now employs dubstep for their theme music. Hell, dubstep is old now. Digital Mystikz are so ancient they can barely twiddle their own knobs due to arthritis. What we need… is a prefix.

Enter James Blake, and what has been somewhat lazily called the post-dubstep movement. The internet being what it is, stars can now rise and fall in the time it takes a DJ to record their first bedroom mix-tape, which meant that Blake, with barely enough tracks released to constitute an ep, was named as one of the Artists To Watch in 2011 by the BBC, amongst many others. I can see why. His self-titled debut is a disquieting, sometimes beautiful effort. Whilst Burial’s music evokes scenes of dim-lit subways and hooded spirits haunting empty alleys, Blake delivers a much more personal but no less ghostly vision. His songs are fragile, fine wisps of smoke with often only the barest hint of a beat.

Blake first achieved popular appeal late last year with his cover of Feist’s Limit To Your Love, which appears midway through the album. It stands out rather tellingly as the most media-friendly track and also the least-nuanced. The clutch of songs preceding it are almost crushing in their melancholy, lending a sense of gentle despair which I think is sorely lacking from modern pop music. I’ve read hereabouts that it is a difficult listen, which I don’t really understand. Mournful lyrics and spare electronic bleeps sound like a warm bath to me compared to, say, Alec Empire. The sparseness can be jarring and almost challenging though, and the ambiguity of the vocals, garbled as they are by effects, means that you concentrate much more on the tone rather than the lyrics. Plus he can sometimes sound a bit like a robot cranking, which I suppose is not a good thing.

Hmm, yes. But is there anything here that we haven’t heard before? Probably not, but it is rare that something like this is given such mainstream attention. I don’t particularly understand the post-dubstep tag, and I’m sure Blake would much prefer to be described not by a clumsy genre but as an individual. employing his actual name is one signifier, as opposed to dubbing himself something like DJ JAMblak. I can’t imagine him dropping sick beats to screwed up faces at five in the morning in an Ancoats warehouse either, it wouldn’t even make very good come-down music. Instead what James Blake and his like, particularly Jamie Woon, have done is follow Burial’s footsteps by creating a musical form which can exist artistically independent from the scene from which it sprung, and as an example of miserablist electronica I can’t think of much better.

FINAL VERDICT: Yeah, it’s pretty good. Two Stars.


‘War, war never changes.’ – Hellboy

Roughly 53 days ago I reviewed Call of Duty: Black Ops and if I recall I gave it a pretty good review but cryptically claimed I was going to leave the battlefield for a while in order to explore a little burg named New Vegas. Well, I’ve returned from that hideous desert bruised, battered, and pretty exhilarated.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m talking about Fallout: New Vegas, the latest instalment in a computer game franchise that was around in the days when you had to crank a lever on the side of your PC before it decided to work, when the internet was made of string. The series is set hundreds of years after a nuclear apocalypse cashed society’s cheque and casts you in a variety of everyman destined-to-become-superman roles in a massive wasteland setting. The first two games were primitive-looking isometric 2d RPGs with a combat system that made the shifting of tectonic plates look sprightly, but will almost certainly make any veteran PC gamer grow glassy-eyed with nostalgia. There were then a couple of rubbish spin-off games which no-one likes to mention, like the cousin at a party who everyone knows smokes dope and listens to Pissing Razors. The 21st century gifted the series an extra dimension and thus we had Fallout 3, one of my favourite games of the time.

I sometimes don’t know exactly who I’m writing for when reviewing games, but really the only people genuinely interested in reading about computer games are those who play them and in which case almost certainly know what Fallout 3 was all about. It’s like we have a secret club. So I’ll fuck the rest of the exposition off and assume you avenged Liam Neeson, destroyed Malcolm McDowell and listened to Ron Perlman  moan about war never changing for the umpteenth time.

Right. My only problem with F3 was it didn’t really have much connection with the rest of the series. Of course, it had some of the same goodies and baddies, the same retro 50’s-aesthetic and you did emerge from a vault as in the first game, but there didn’t seem to be much continuity. I assume this is something to do with ten-year gap since the last game, wherein a new generation of gamers had risen who didn’t know you could play games on PCs and assumed that the ‘3’ at the end of the title was leet for ‘tits’. Admirably the devs decided to readdress the balance by giving F:NV the same west-coast setting as the first two games and actively referencing their events, giving the series a greater sense of cohesion.

Plot-wise you play The Courier, or at least A Courier, who, in the course of his or her work is ambushed by a set of bastards and shot in the face by none other than Chandler from Friends, recession being what it is Obsidian probably couldn’t employ anyone more expensive for fear of bankruptcy. Anyway, with the bullet once ensconced in your face removed by a kindly doctor you begin a trail of revenge that will eventually make you the main player in a war that will change the face of the Mojave desert forever. Or not, because in true Fallout tradition the game world allows you to do pretty much whatever you want, within the confines of the game’s physics engine etc., allowing you the opportunity to become petty thief, mass-murderer or nancy-boy, depending on your approach towards violence.

F:NV isn’t just the third game with a new set of clothes. Well okay it is, but they’re pretty fancy new clothes. For instance you now have the opportunity to play in HARDCORE MODE(!), in which you must actually drink, eat and sleep in order to survive. To be honest it isn’t very hardcore, the penalties of not eating are slight and both food and water are pretty readily available. Still, you get an XBOX achievement for completing it, if you’re one of those people who think that your gamer-score mirrors the size of your cock. There is a massive new arsenal to play with as well as some new and horrible enemies, including a strain of gigantic mutated wasp-twats called ‘cazadors’ who were the bane of my existence throughout my entire play-through, plus there is an extremely unwelcome return of the dreaded Death Claws, the capitalisation of whom should negate any need for a description.

Cazadors aren’t the only bugs to plague F:NV, the game being notorious for containing numerous glitches, system-crashes and the like. Some vaguely amusing, such as the time I conducted a conversation with a man whose head was stuck in the ceiling, and others which could lead the player into paroxysms of fury, such as the fucking disgusting time when I couldn’t get through a door because a completely random computer screen would get in the way whenever I tried to pick the lock. Those are the only instances I can think of, but many other reviewers complained that the game can sometimes be pretty much unplayable. Your best bet is to install the game onto you hard-drive and save diligently.

There are other, less technical problems which were also intrinsic in the first game. Whilst the script is often smart and funny the voice-acting doesn’t really live up to it. This could be down to the fact that they only seem to have seven different actors to voice over hundreds of characters (recession biting again), but it often sounds like they are simply reading from a sheet. Certain individual characters are fine, such as Matthew Perry’s Benny or The Wire’s Major Rawls as uber-bastard and potentially the game’s main antagonist Caesar. Another annoying hangover from the last game is the way your character seems to float over the environment rather than walk on it, and trying to navigate some of the more mountainous regions can be an exercise in frustration. I swear I could get up some of those hills and I’m not a super-powered avenger of the wastelands carrying a gun capable of launching nuclear warheads.

Hmm, there’s plenty more to say really, the game being as huge as it is, but if there’s one thing I learnt from my Blops review its that nobody really cares. This review was quite easy actually, because if you liked the third game, you’ll love this. If you hated the third game, you might just tolerate this. If you hate computer games overall, you’ll hate this almost beyond hyperbole. Tellingly I’ve been playing it for over 50 hours overall and still have plenty more to do, the pleasures of unemployment, what recession? Etc.


‘The book thereafter is kind of uneven.’

Here at the Meta Centre we’re not afraid to sometimes descend to High Art, Sharpie looked at a painting once, and I slept through an entire production of Mamma-Mia! As such, what with it being a new year and all, I considered my ridiculous fire-hazard of a book collection and thought I should probably read some of these. So, as well as the numerous, dubious reviews of computer games and films about rape that is the norm around here there may be a few highfalutin missives on books. There will be chin-stroking.

And Christ, I couldn’t think of a book more chin-strokingly literary than A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius if I tried, the title alone reduced me to clawing off my own mandible. As with everything else in pop-culture I am often slow on the uptake with novels, it took me 110 years to get round to reading Lord Jim, so A.H.W.o.S.G is already a decade old. The book, written by McSweeny’s editor and smarty-pants Dave Eggers, takes the form of a memoir describing the author’s struggles in raising his younger brother after both their parents succumb within weeks of each other to cancer. What makes A.H.W.o.S.G unique, and led the literati of the day into an absolute orgy of praise, is the book’s form. Eggers, being a smarty-pants, recognises the fundamental flaw of the medium he is using; how can one truly tell a true story with the manifold restraints of the written word? As such he eschews the general conventions of the memoir for a subjective, novelistic approach wherein narrative can suddenly jump forward, back, upside-down and into itself. Characters speaking to Eggers become Eggers himself commenting on the very use of those characters and you can practically feel the book itself nudging you and saying ‘did you see what I did there?’

It isn’t only in the bulk of the story itself that Eggers employs his literary fancies. The sharp-eyed reader may notice that, amongst the usual This paperback published in etc. that most people ignore, Eggers has included little easter-eggs; a scale out of 10 of Egger’s sexuality, for instance, and a subversion of the classic disclaimer: Any resemblance to persons living or otherwise.. Ho ho.

There then follows a lengthy discourse on the book itself, which includes such oddities as a guide to enjoying the book (which recommends that you skip the majority of it) and an acknowledgements section which lasts for roughly 30 pages and includes a description of the themes and a comparative list of symbols and their meanings that will appear in the book. Now, I’m one of those people who feels the compulsion to watch all the special features on a DVD, even the trailer to the movie that I’ve just seen. I suffer the same tendency with books (I actually feel slightly ripped off if there isn’t even an author biography, even when I can easily find one online that’s not the point) so I ignored the instruction to skip the preface, guessing that it would be integral to my enjoyment of the rest of the book. Yeah.

My problem is that after ten pages of reading Eggers bang on about ‘D) THE TELLING THE WORLD OF SUFFERING AS MEANS OF FLUSHING OR AT LEAST DILUTING THE PAIN ASPECT’ and the like I began to feel quite bored. I got the impression that Eggers was trying to take the piss, as if by finding the entire section tedious I simply didn’t ‘get it’, like I’m not high-minded enough to understand the, like, totally subversive use of the form to make a statement about the, y’know, written word, or some such. Well, Fuck You Eggers, if I was going to satirise the conventions of the medium I’d at least have the decency to make it fucking entertaining (incidentally I also found the lengthy sections dedicated to the whaling business in Moby Dick to be tedious as well, if for entirely different reasons). Anyway.

Anyway.  I now have to somehow turn this into a positive review, because A.H.W.o.S.G is actually fantastic. Yes. Staggering and Heartbreaking in equal measures. It cannot be denied that Eggers is a fine writer, with a confident grasp and intimate knowledge of his trade. His photo-montage paragraphs of the San Franciscan landscape and lifestyle are resplendent enough to make you feel the sun beat on your face and his description of the icy Chicago winter enough to make you feel a genuine chill (although that may be due to the fact that it’s January in Salford, where even computers shiver). The book is also very funny, I particularly enjoy his worried visions as to what could happen to his little brother Toph if not adequately cared for, which mostly involve either violent death or crack-addiction. There is enough energy in here for a thousand novels three pretty good novels. When it isn’t funny the book is deathly, crushingly sad, never letting you forget the horrible circumstances that led to the Eggers bros. situation.

And also, conversely, the main thrust of the book, the meat, is also pretty standard fare. Of course Eggers employs an entire plethora of literary tricks, but none of which we haven’t read many times before. It is the emotional resonance of the book that is its best feature, and it is lucky that Eggers’ well of fancy-pants writing techniques dries up well before the end, otherwise the last two chapters, for instance, wouldn’t feel half as fucking powerful. Jesus, I’m criticising art for trying to be experimental. What’s a matter with me? Best off you ignore all but the second to last paragraph of this review and well, just buy the book.

 


‘A film so insubstantial an automatic door wouldn’t register its presence.’

Shit SHIT! I best get this down quick before Sharpie finishes her breathless remarks about how although Tron: Legacy has a terrible plot it is still utterly brilliant. Christ, she types like the Devil Himself is guiding her fingers. Shit!

2010 has been a stellar year for movies, more or less, but it will be best known as the year of the Spectacle Film; movies which, like firework displays, look pretty but are essentially meaningless. Visual cantrips meant to pacify the critical functions of the viewer through a combination of shock and awe. Neatly rounding off the year we have Tron: Legacy, a film so insubstantial an automatic door wouldn’t register its presence.

I’m going to sound like some old, embittered docent in this review, sounding off about the death of plot and characterisation in cinema in favour of light and sound and extra dimensions that aren’t really there, as if the only films I ever watch are directed by vaguely ugly men smoking unfiltered Gauloises and quoting Sartré. I feel like Kevin McCarthy, gesticulating wildly ‘twixt a traffic jam, ‘Do not be fooled!’ I’m howling, ‘3D is a sham! You may love it now but once the next big thing comes along it shall go the way of smell-o-vision! Never forget Jaws 3-D! Where is Dennis Quaid now!?’

Oh right, a review. Tron: Legacy is the sequel to 1982’s Tron, a film I saw and loved when I was about 10. I can’t really remember the intricacies of that films plot which is a shame because Legacy gives absolutely no indication at all of what fucking happened. The film follows Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) the son of a CEO and computer-whiz who disappeared mysteriously during his childhood. Sam is supposed to be gnarly and subversive and like, totally breaks the rules, so naturally he sports a brand-new leather jacket, a vintage motorcycle and a flagrant disregard for the plight of the honest working-Joe. Think Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk in the Star Trek reboot and you’ll know what I mean. As Sharpie says he is good-looking as well, which doesn’t help my self-esteem, fuck him and his perfect teeth. Anyway, Flynn finds himself entering The Grid, a computer program which should be familiar to anyone who watched VR Rangers as a kid or, well, the last Tron film. There he meets up with Daddy, has to battle someone who looks like Daddy, gets down to some funky beats in the worlds shittest club and falls in love with a woman made up of ones and zeroes. Oh yeah, and Daddy is played by Jeff Bridges.

I’m quite pleased that Jeff Bridges might just be competing with Tom Hanks as the planets favourite actor. The man could give a good performance in his sleep, which is lucky as he practically sleep-walks through the film, making sub-par Dudeisms like your dad might if he were trying to infiltrate a jazz club in the 30’s. When Bridges isn’t being hip to the uttermost jive he is spouting science-fiction jargon so soft it makes Back to the Future sound like it was written by Isaac Asimov. Bridges also plays the antagonist CLU, a computer program hell-bent on getting in the real world to ‘perfect’ it, how he (it?) plans on doing this is never fully explained. As CLU, Bridges performs with an unconvincing CGI mask meant to shave off twenty years, which works fine in the virtual reality of The Grid but looks laughable in the real world. Rounding off the cast we have Olivia Wilde playing The Pretty Girl, because there always has to be one in these kinds of things, and she’s actually alright, bringing charm and humour to a miserably underwritten role. Lastly we have Michael Sheen, attempting to out-act absolutely everything, including the scenery, which is difficult considering how fucking bright the scenery is.

You may have noticed that my principle issue with the film is the writing. The plot attempts to be complex but is ultimately just confusing, finally deciding to jettison all sense of coherence by the final reel. The dialogue is bland and clichéd, (does anybody ever actually say ‘You’ve gotta be kidding me!’ to themselves when faced by something that obviously isn’t kidding them?) and relies too heavily on meaningless technobabble (‘My God, if the Mu-RF doesn’t restabilise, the Index Algorithms could gestate quadratically within the system splicer!’ ‘But, but what does it mean Dr, Francisco?’ ‘Why it means that we would become… obsolete.’). There are about a dozen other reasons I disliked the movie, but Sharpie has just told me not to write another essay and threatened me with actual physical violence. So, with no further ado, let me present (in a very short paragraph) The Good Bits!

Well, it looks pretty, for about half an hour, before you become bored of the same background. I don’t think the makers realised that the original Tron only looked the way it did because of technological limitations. Erm, the music provided by Daft Punk is excellent (see Sharpie’s review of the soundtrack). The special effects are obviously very accomplished but don’t really serve any purpose, the same goes with the 3D visuals.. er, yeah. Cillian Murphy is in it for about seven seconds. That’s it, I’m spent.

But fuck it, just because I didn’t like it doesn’t make it a bad film. It is produced by Disney after all (oh Christ, I forgot to mention the product placement, hats off to Coors beer and the Apple Ipad, amongst others) and it is meant for kids. It’s a fun movie and full of action and the like and one probably shouldn’t put too much thought into the plot, I certainly never did when I saw the original. Youth is for the young, and I think I’m best off left muttering in my hovel, watching my miserable wintery films about death and doom, on a very small black and white TV screen, on VHS, in 2D.