Weekend Forecast for December 17-19, 2010
By Reagen Sulewski
December 17, 2010
With the last chance to get a full week of showings in before Christmas, this weekend's slate of new films is significant, with both blockbusters and expanding Oscar hopefuls getting their shots in.
Leading the way is Tron: Legacy, the 28-years-later sequel to the landmark (but, let's face it, not very good) sci-fi film Tron, set entirely in a virtual computer world. In the sequel, legendary computer programmer Kevin Flynn (think Steve Jobs crossed with a zen monk) has been missing for 20 years now, leaving behind a son and a business. Then - like father, like son - his son Sam gets zapped into the same virtual world where a digital copy of Flynn has run amok and is assembling an army for, well something. It's not very clear what the real end game is.
The world takes the form of various games, including the familiar disc wars and light bikes, with an emphasis on visual spectacularity. Indeed, the sleek, brightly colored world of Tron looks amazing, and a 3D presentation makes a lot of sense for a film that is so dependent on CGI (Strange to think that at the time of the original, it proved so controversial that it splintered Disney's animation department in two). The plot is sort of incidental, though you hope they at least gave a bit of thought - with two Lost executive producers writing it seems like both a positive and a negative – and it's all about the shiny, shiny graphics.
As infamous as Tron is, it wasn't actually that big a success on its initial release, only making about $30 million, the equivalent of $84 million today, though that was plenty enough to make a profit at the time. That would of course be a disaster this time around, with a reported budget in excess of $200 million.
Jeff Bridges returns as Flynn and a creepy, computer de-aged version of himself called CLU, along with Bruce Boxleitner, getting his most significant movie role since, well, Tron. Relative newcomer Garret Hedlund, best known (?) as Brad Pitt's uncomfortably close cousin in Troy, plays Sam, with significant appearances from Olivia Wilde, Michael Sheen and French electronica-ists Daft Punk, who wrote the score (but which is more traditional than you'd expect).
Geek anticipation runs really strong with this film, and geek culture has only grown stronger and more mainstream since 1982, turning this into a potential blockbuster. In this case, that's likely to be self-limiting, as it becomes too geeky for the norms to consider. Essentially the last big action movie of the year to open, it needs an action movie type opening weekend to justify its hype. Starting in 3,400-plus venues, it will win the weekend, but will likely fall short of what's really hoped for the film with a $47 million opening weekend.
Warner Bros. unleashes a horror upon the world with the live action treatment of Yogi Bear, the Hanna-Barbera cartoon that's far better in memory than in actually watching it. Dan Akroyd voices Yogi, the smarter-than-the-average-bear (which is not much of an achievement if you think about it – most bears are pretty stupid) who just wants to steal campers' pic-a-nic baskets with the help of his friend Boo-Boo (voiced by Justin Timberlake, who looks like the best part of this whole sorry mess). Perhaps we can get Werner Herzog to narrate to liven this up.