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Tag Archive: Jeff Bridges


It’s a member of the exclusive clubhouse of the greatest year of movies–1982.  In a summer that gave us E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Blade Runner, Poltergeist, and John Carpenter’s The Thing, Disney’s groundbreaking Tron is a great movie, and it stands the test of time as a unique science fiction classic.  For a movie fan, if you were stuck in a time warp you could hardly find a better place to be than 1982.  Getting noticed in a year of movies like Conan the Barbarian, Rocky III, First Blood, Tootsie, The Secret of NIMH, The Last Unicorn, Night Shift, The Man from Snowy River, Tex, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, was no small feat.  Tron sees the 35th anniversary of its release this week.  A cinematic milestone?  Of course.  A must-see classic?  Absolutely.  Better still, you can view Tron in a more vibrant and detailed clarity than how you may have viewed it in a local 1982 movie theater thanks to an updated 2011 Blu-ray release.

For those not involved in the computing world in the early 1980s, Tron first introduced audiences to programming terms like the Master Control Program (MCP), random access memory (RAM), and the idea of avatars.   It introduced us to light cycles, an early CG home run–even decades before quality 3D or IMAX–viewers were ducking and dodging in their seats as opponents exploded into the walls of the Grid.  Identity discs brought to life what were only blips on the screen in the “real” world, and we cringed as Flynn took a step too close and almost fell off the game rings.  No other film since looks like Tron, not even its big budget 2010 sequel Tron: Legacy or its 2012 animated series Tron: Uprising.  Its backlight animation worked amazingly well for our first entry into a world we hadn’t seen before.  Video games were just beyond the stage of blip games like Pong.  It was a time before the Atari 2600.  It was in this world that director Steven Lisberger was able to film Bruce Boxleitner as Alan Bradley aka Tron and Jeff Bridges as programmer/hacker/high scorer Flynn in a complex blue-black and white costume and fill in the details in post-production and place them in a brilliantly colored, infinitely tiny, futuristic universe.  The look was both retro to an almost 1940s vision of the future and yet also it pushed ahead, way ahead, to some future we will never really meet.  Just look at this futuristic, visionary image from early in the film where Bridges plays an avatar of his real world character–well before anyone knew what an avatar was:

And the story works.  Tron offers a one-of-a-kind and unreal world where, in the classic sci-fi style of The Fly, you can be teleported to someplace not outside but deep within this world, where Flynn tries to understand his new world of the Users, to fight to survive with identity disk battles and light cycle races, and to get home.  Boxleitner, who would get far less screen time than Jeff Bridges, provided an understated hero for a generation of kids.  David Warner (Time After Time, Star Trek V, VI, Star Trek: The Next Generation), the best actor to play a villain in any franchise, also played a dual role as Dillinger and the MCP, giving movies one of its all-time best villains, and adding yet another perfect genre performance to Warner’s portfolio.  Caddyshack’s Cindy Morgan as Lora/Yori, Dan Shor as the ill-fated RAM, and Barnard Hughes as Dumont all created memorable supporting characters (plus master stuntman Vince Deadrick, Jr. (Iron Man, True Grit, Star Trek Enterprise, Fletch, Romancing the Stone) to boot).

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20th Century Fox released a teaser last month for Kingsman: The Golden Circle, and last week followed up with a full preview, including an intriguing cyborg.  The secret British spy organization is coming back to theaters this year and the sequel to Kingsman: The Secret Service stars a top-notch cast including Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry, Taron Egerton, Channing Tatum, and Julianne Moore.

Edward Holcroft returns as Taron Egerton’s stuck-up nemesis, Charlie Hesketh.  But this time he’s sporting interchangeable arms, no doubt a future contender for the borg.com Hall of Fame.

Check out this first, full-length preview for Kingsman: The Golden Circle: 

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A cyborg bowler or The Cyborg Who Love Me?

The 2014 surprise hit Kingsman: The Secret Service showed the world what it would be like for Colin Firth–the not so secret man all women want to be with since his role in the 1995 costume drama mini-series Pride & Prejudice–to play James Bond (or someone pretty close).  The secret British spy organization is coming back to theaters this year.

The sequel to Kingsman: The Secret Service, titled Kingsman: The Golden Circle, stars a top-notch cast including Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry, Taron Egerton, Channing Tatum, and Julianne Moore.

Check out this teaser for The Kingsman: The Golden Circle:

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hell-or-high-water

Review by C.J. Bunce

For fans of the traditional Western, Hell or High Water is a Western in name only.  Sure, it has the hallmarks:  Frank and Jesse James-inspired bank robbers, it takes place in a Western enough locale, and there’s plenty of cowboy hats and even horses and cattle.  But it’s something very different, and reviewers calling it a Western are setting the wrong expectations.  Yes, it’s closer to Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven than your typical fare, but not that close.  A nontraditional Western?  Barely, maybe.  Better described it’s a drama in Western dress.  It’s also a look at a place and time: West Texas, today.  Which makes it in other ways a West Texas version of the Coen Brothers’ Fargo.  You’ll see plenty of life reflected with a Texas cultural twist.  Good and bad.  Strangely enough, if life is indeed reflected in the cinema each year, Hell or High Water is the best reflection of America to hit theaters in 2016.

In addition to the perfect Western title, Hell or High Water has the perfect imperfect hangman sheriff in its Ranger Marcus Hamilton, played by Jeff Bridges in what is yet another brilliant supporting character role.  If he hadn’t landed the Oscar for True Grit, he’d have it for this.  Bridges plays another crotchety old man, he’s days from retirement, and all soaked in his own blissful ignorance of his racism, much like Clint Eastwood’s old man in Gran Torino and Eastwood’s own take on the Texas Ranger in pursuit in the 1993 “modern Western” A Perfect World.  Bridges’ partner is the put-upon Comanche Ranger Alberto Parker, played by Gil Birmingham, an actor of actual Comanche lineage who has guest starred on numerous genre classic series including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, Veronica Mars, Castle, and even Riptide.  At times Birmingham gets his Oscar-worthy moments, too, especially when he fires back at Hamilton with equally biting quips.

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The Rangers are hunting down two brothers, played by Star Trek and Wonder Woman’s Chris Pine and 3:10 to Yuma and X: Men: The Last Stand’s Ben Foster, who have a strange plan to rob a Midland Texas chain of banks because they learned the banks’ network of video recording hardware is being updated, with the added bonus of being able to launder the money through an Oklahoma casino.  The movie trailers laid out every aspect of the plot–why they need the money–more concisely than its laid out in the film, but the film is really part character study of the brothers, part indictment of the banking system, and the destruction of the family unit, and everything else wrong in the world.  To that end this is a typical drama, but it has its moments, including a quality bank robber story.

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Jeff Bridges at Nerd HQ 2014

In its fourth year operating across from San Diego Comic-Con, Nerd HQ will be streaming live panels on the Web with archived panels available for viewing after the panels each day as they have done for past years.  Click here to see all of last year’s panels.

Nerd HQ offers an alternative to catch a few panels away from the SDCC venue, and is ideal for those who didn’t get tickets in time for the big show but will be in town this weekend, although tickets sold out quickly for Nerd HQ this year.  Seeing several Nerd HQ panels will cost you lots more than a ticket to SDCC, so the online version is the next best thing, and for those not in San Diego this weekend, an easy way to share in the vibe going on right now in Southern California.

Not at Comic Con logo

These are full panels, held in a small venue, which will give those who have not attended a big Con an idea of what they’re missing.

Here are some of the panels held so far this week at Nerd HQ:

A Conversation with Firefly’s Adam Baldwin

A Conversation with Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Seth Green

A Conversation with The Hobbit’s Evangeline Lilly

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Bacon and Bridges in RIPD

Somehow the adaptation of the Dark Horse Comics series, R.I.P.D., came and went last year with little fanfare and plenty of negative reviews.  Did the critics simply not understand the film?  Most seemed lazy and dismissed it as a Men in Black knockoff.  Admittedly it’s a good film, not a great film, yet it has so much going for it that you may want to check it out now that it’s out on Blu-ray and DVD.

R.I.P.D. stands for the Rest in Peace Department.  Like the Men in Black, this worldwide squad tries to keep the peace between our world and their world.  That hidden world has simple rules: when you die you go to heaven or hell, but sometimes the dead get caught in between.  It’s up to R.I.P.D. to track down those in-between souls.  It sounds serious but it’s mainly all comic book fun and over-the-top action movie antics.

Miller and Hong in RIPD

R.I.P.D. has the feel in parts of several classic movies about ghosts and “hidden worlds behind our world,” like Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice, Ghost Rider, and yes, Men in Black.  But it’s not as great as any of these. It also has a dramatic thread from movies like The Crow, Always, and City of Angels.  But it’s not a drama and only touches on the seriousness of what is at stake for the characters in the story.  Yet it’s worth watching for some standout components that make for a fun rental.

If you ever wanted to see a live-action Yosemite Sam, you can see what that would be like with Jeff Bridges’ performance as Roy Pulsiphur, an undead ex-U.S. Marshall and Civil War soldier.  Bridges completely immerses himself in this Old West coot and the result is another classic and unique Bridges performance. (How the heck does he manage to drive his car side-saddle?).  There’s definitely some Sam Elliott inspiration here.  Green Lantern star Ryan Reynolds plays Nick, a cop who is killed on duty as a Boston police officer.  It may be Reynolds’ best film performance as he, too, is believable as an undead cop in this strange otherworld.  Bridges and Reynolds have some strange chemistry, which amounts for some good buddy cop moments.

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Jeff Bridges in Seventh Son

How can you get any cooler than Jeff Bridges’ hacker/video game mogul character of Flynn in Tron?  As The Dude in The Big Lebowski?  Two new trailers will no doubt elevate even diehard Jeff Bridges fans’ views of this singularly awesome genre actor.

We already previewed the first trailer for next week’s release R.I.P.D. here at borg.com R.I.P.D. adapts the Dark Horse Comics paranormal cops series and stars Ryan Reynolds as Nick Walker and Bridges as Roy Pulsipher, a gun-toting badass that makes Bridges’ Rooster Cogburn from the True Grit remake look like a wimp.  This new trailer for R.I.P.D. relies heavily in its attraction on the coolness that is Mr. Bridges.  Add to it that mammoth revolver and this movie looks like a guaranteed summer blast.

Just check out Bridges in this cool new trailer for R.I.P.D.:

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RIPD cops

The largest independent comic book publisher and the third largest comic publisher overall, Dark Horse Comics has scored pretty well at movie theaters so far in its relatively brief 27 years as comic book publisher, with successful adaptations by its Dark Horse Entertainment division of its books The Mask, Time Cop, Tank Girl, Mystery Men, Hellboy, Sin City, 300, and Aliens vs. Predator.  Finally, Dark Horse Comics has teamed up with Universal Studios to bring to the big screen one of its most popular long-running series, R.I.P.D., from the anthology series Dark Horse Presents.

RIPD comic book prequel

Roy Pulsipher and Nick Walker are dead, but that doesn’t mean their stint in law enforcement is over.  Both Roy and Nick are officers in the Rest in Peace Department, or R.I.P.D., sworn to serve the Almighty and protect the living from the evil monsters among us.  If you haven’t read R.I.P.D. before, you can see a seven-page preview of the prequel comic book series, R.I.P.D.: City of the Damned, released this past winter in a trade edition and available at Amazon.com, here:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Tron is one of those franchises that has barely been tapped for its universe of potential stories about the Grid.  The original movie Tron followed Jeff Bridges’ character Flynn as he became sucked into the computer sphere, into the video game, Tron.  The graphic novel Tron: Betrayal smartly covered the events after the original film, to provide a segue into the new Grid universe in Tron: Legacy, a strange, cool, new world of the Grid on the big screen.  Tron: Legacy met Flynn again, this time an aged hermit-slash-guru, trapped for years as an outcast rebel leader, and his son, who enters the computer world to find him.  We got a brief glimpse of Tron’s real-world equivalent (Bruce Boxleitner, Chuck, Scarecrow & Mrs. King), but didn’t see much of Tron himself.  The excellent updated role play video game Tron: Evolution features even more of the new world, but not until now do we get what we’ve wanted all along, more Tron, and specifically more Boxleitner as Tron.  Unfortunately Tron isn’t the lead of the new animated weekly half-hour TV series on Disney XD, Tron: Uprising, but he gets an important key role as Jedi-like mentor to Elijah Wood’s young Padawan-esque character, Beck, years after the events of Tron: Legacy.  The story is one of persecution and revolution, and the whispered message across the Grid is “Tron lives.”

You’ll find plenty of parallels to Star Wars and other good science fantasy and science fiction, even cool references back to the original Tron movie itself, like the little floating diamond that repeated the word “yes” with nice comic timing.  And you’ll be hard pressed not to try to compare it to the Clone Wars animated series.  I think the art, sound, story, music, color, depth, movement and vibe leaves not only Clone Wars behind, but any other animated series that comes to mind, after watching the first three episodes broadcast yesterday and last Tuesday.  If there is any drawback it may be characters and producers still getting comfortable with the dialogue and techno-babble, but this may just get ironed out over the course of the series.  The other drawback is getting used to the string-bean thin and tall hero characters of this universe.  But those items are easily dismissed for all that is very cool in this series.

The best part may very well be the band Daft Punk’s soulful, hopeful, sometime dark, sometimes bright techno music that is borrowed from their unique and stunning score for the film Tron: Legacy and carefully and expertly edited into this series.  The thumping base line and synthesized strings at the right movements take you into this new world to the point you find the art direction and sound together creating a complete universe–and you will question whether this is a movie or a video game or an animated series.  Imagery of a classic Encom light cycle has glass-like mirror reflections of animated characters that looks like it could exist in the real world.  Water flows like real water, yet nicely done with a computerized edge to it as in the original Tron film.

And then you have Bruce Boxleitner as not an elder Tron so much as a mature Tron, leader and icon of this new uprising.  His character looks a bit like Boxleitner without the need for motion capture technology.  Elijah Wood’s Beck is young and impulsive.  Emmanuelle Chriqui’s Paige and Kate Mara’s Perl are cool, tough villains.  Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica, Burn Notice) provides the perfect voice for the voiceover introductions as well as the voice of the Grid.  Lance Henriksen’s (Alien) Tesler is a slicker villain than Jeff Bridges’ motion capture computer-generated character Clu from Tron: Legacy.  And Paul Reubens’ voice is perfect for Tesler’s henchman.

You can’t forget the animation itself, and Disney has outdone itself here.  it looks like it must have taken years to developed this type of imagery.  Some scenes look they come from the best of Pixar’s achievements, including some that just establish setting, with little or no action, although the light cycle chase scenes are seemless and exciting as you’d hope for.

A great start for a great franchise!

Spoilers!

When the original Disney movie Tron arrived in theaters in 1982 it was a technological innovation.  Jeff Bridges’ Kevin Flynn and Bruce Boxleitner’s Tron, a user and a program, interract in a fully realized alternate universe after Flynn is sucked into his own computer system.  Nearly thirty years later the Disney sequel Tron: Legacy revisited the computer world known as the Grid to show us what happened to Flynn and Tron.

But before the film’s release, Disney released a graphic novel in two parts that explains what happened between the two movies.  And the result is actually better than what we saw onscreen in the movie sequel.

Tron: Betrayal, written by Jai Nitz, takes us to the world that we wished had made it to the screen.  The graphic novel compilation includes a nice prologue to get the reader that missed the original film up to speed on the events of the original Tron film.  This was enormously necessary because Disney failed to re-release a DVD version of the film in the months leading up to the release of Tron: Legacy.  (A prior edition had been released more than a decade ago, but in classic Disney marketing style it had not been put back into release once it sold out).

Tron: Betrayal begins with Kevin Flynn revisiting the Grid.  He works with Tron and begins building a new world, a “perfect world”.  Flynn uses the same Tron movie laser technology to transport between realities, and in our world we learn his wife is pregnant with the son we will meet years later in Tron: Legacy.  Lori, whose avatar was Yori in the original film, is still with Tron’s user, Alan.

Kevin is addicted to the Grid and subtley Nitz reveals a man who each day becomes more and more obsessed, a man who can hardly pay attention to his life in the real world, his wife, his new son, his business he is supposed to be running.

Flynn needs to be in two places at once.  So he creates an avatar of himself to carry out his work on the Grid, called Clu.  Clu works with Tron and his loyal assistant Shaddox, who points out that Clu is doing all the work, with little help from Flynn, the creator.  And as a new pest called gridbugs infest the world, “life finds a way” (to quote Jeff Goldblum from Jurassic Park), and new gridpeople are spontaneously formed–isomorphs or “isos”–including a self aware female named Ophelia (in the film Tron: Legacy this would be revisited with the character Quorra).  Flynn declares all isos are to be protected by Tron and Clu.

The key conflict becomes clearer, the same conflict that would be revealed in the new film: Clu, just like a computer program would react in the real world, does not know what to do when confronted with ambiguity as Clu is given seemingly inconsistent direction from Flynn.  What is a perfect world?

In part 2, Flynn’s real life falls apart.  He has a son, but his wife has died and he is left to raise son Sam with his other obligations still pressing in on him.  His inlaws are there to help…but nothing works for Flynn.  Here Jai Nitz has set up relationships and realities that, despite being a fantasy story about a guy who gets sucked into a video game, reflect modern pressures of life in a believable way.

Beyond the complex story of priorities, faith, and duty, Jeff Matsuda and Andie Tong’s artwork is excellent, all locked into this dark world inside the computer sphere.  The cover by Jock is up to his typical cool style.  Neon cycles, including Flynn’s superbly crafted white light cycle we barely see in the new film, are a great extension from the perfect cycles of the original film.  It is here where the look is better than the final film, even though the final film looks great in its own right.  What is certain is that this story would have made a better film, for several reasons.

First, this story includes the title character, Tron, in a key role.  Tron: Legacy inexplicably barely used Tron, and when it did, we barely got to see the beloved actor Boxleitner be the Tron we loved in the original film.   The movie is called Tron, right?  Is Boxleitner’s fee greater than Academy Award winner Bridges?  Also, this is the story that happened following the events of the original film and this is the story most fans would want to see.  The Flynn of the new the film is washed up.  He is past the character most fans would want to dig into.  He is the Dude from The Big Lebowski right before he ODs.  The new film was subtitled Legacy and it is about Flynn’s son Sam.  Yet we as fans care for Kevin and Alan, the original characters that excited us.  This story also allows a greater depth of character than we were shown in the movie.

With the graphic novel Tron: Betrayal we get to see what that more ideal film could have been.  And that would have made a very cool movie.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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