Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tom Clancy Reboot! + What is Tugg, and Netflix gets TED

March has been a hard month for this blog. I'm still technically on vacation, but I'm acting like I'm not. Work projects ate up a lot of my time; and my old eye injury came back - it made actual work difficult enough, forget about actually posting. Since I've been so lazy, I'll post at least once a day for the remainder of this month; it's not as cheap (or as easy) as it may sound...

Netflix's selection isn't always thrilling. They have a lot of kids' shows, a ton of Anime for some reason, and lots of TV series that I would never, ever watch. And then they do something crazy like streaming videos of recent TED presentations.

If you're unaware of what TED is, it's a conference dedicated to "important ideas." It draws a lot of attention from philanthropists, CEOs, scientists, and many others. The topics aren't always dry or depressing, either. In 2008, oceanic exploration was a topic; more recently, so was "smart laughter."

In terms of providing some sort of intellectual stimulation via video - instead of rotting your brain with unrealistic ideas and expectations - this move is a clear winner. You shouldn't give Netflix too much credit, tho - the website has for many years offered over 1000 of these speeches, and it's still there, all for free. This is thought-provoking material, and I must recommend it.

AiCN informs me that Tom Clancy's "Jack Ryan" series is receiving a reboot, and that Kenneth Branagh will be directing it. This is especially embarrassing, I should think, as the series already got one do-over with Ben Affleck as the lead in in 2002's The Sum of All Fears. That pic got mixed reviews but almost doubled its budget in the US alone; somehow, any more Affleck-Clancy pix never followed.

In fact, that entire franchise has a weird history with film. I really enjoyed The Hunt for Red October, especially the excellent lead by a young Alec Baldwin, and I was disappointed when Alec was replaced in the role by Harrison Ford. It's sad for an Indy/Han Solo fan to write this, but Mr. Ford had this incredibly low-key energy that made him (a) portray a far more Ryan than Baldwin did and (b) made the character seem at least 10 years older in 1992 (Patriot Games) than he was in 1990 (tHfRO).

But Harrison is very popular and Patriot Games did well, despite having a crappy plot and mediocre dialogue. No one seems to have noticed its flaws, judging by the 72% score on RT. 1994's Clear and Present Danger did even better financially, and got a similarly solid (and undeserved) concensus of reviews.

Despite all this, it took another 8 years to make another movies in this franchise, which was left to rot after tSoAF gave us an odd return to youthfulness with Affleck. Maybe someone noticed that he's obviously the wrong kind of guy to play that sort of role? In any case, the continuation of this franchise now looks and feels late, dumb, and totally not relevant to today's world. Someone should manage these properties better, don't ya think?...

Finally, we come to Tugg. It's a new idea that seems overdue. I'm not sure if it's actually going to succeed, but it's a smart move. In essence, Tugg will allow movie-watchers to RSVP in order to reserve a particular showing of a particular film at a particular theater. Yes, Tugg is all about deciding what is playing at a venue near you, the chance to enjoy stadium seating, professional-level sound, and a massive screen. Wrath of Khan, anyone?

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