I found out later (on the bus trip, which I will get to later) that I along with several other people had seen the trailer for this movie at some point and thought “Eh.” I am happy to say how incredibly wrong I was about this movie. It is one of the few instances in which 3D means “This. Is. Awesome.” because the guys making this movie are the same guys that made My Bloody Valentine 3D. They were there and introduced the movie as their homage to 70s car chase movies. Nicolas Cage is an escapee from hell trying to save his very much infant granddaughter from being used as a sacrifice in a satanic ritual by the same man who killed his daughter. Somehow it ends up being set very much in the South and so it ends up being a car chase movie with a lot of classic style muscle cars. William Fichtner plays the demon sent to try and cart him back. Team up Cage’s Milton with Amber Heard’s Piper and you’ve got a duo of surly and cute but not stupid (and thankfully Heard doesn’t play Piper as “scrappy” but instead as a smart woman getting smarter by the minute). I have seen a few movies that I describe as “Better than it really has any right to be.” and this is one of them. It sucker punches me by being about an escapee from Hell and car chases combine, both of which I am a big sucker for. But the performances make this movie fun and watchable and easily worth seeing in the theater. These guys go straight for gimmick in their 3D use and never back down from it which is refreshing, and they are very aware of how lighting should work in 3D movies and because of that the scenes never seem to dark. Having natural sunlight as a constant helps that a great deal, but even the indoor scenes are thoughtfully lit to make the 3D not seem diminished. These guys should teach classes in the proper and economical use of 3D. This movie is easily worth a few bucks to see in the theater.
After DRIVE ANGRY Harry literally says “Pick up your stuff. We’re not coming back here. There are buses waiting outside for you to take you to your last movie.” And there indeed were four tour buses waiting outside to cart us to the nearest IMAX theater. Some folks have complained about there not being an opportunity to socialize and form community between movies this year, but this bus trip was all of those little moments between films rolled up in to one great moment. Our bus broke out into a Mandom sing-along because, well, it was Mandom and we couldn’t help it. We arrived at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum and filed out of the bus. My favorite part about being able to see TRON LEGACY at this place is that it was one of the first places Jenn and I went on our first trip to Austin. In the next room over from TRON LEGACY is one of the very first integrated circuits invented by Texas Instruments and the notebook from their lab.
It takes a while to get TRON LEGACY rolling. We break out into MANDOM again and Happy Birthday for Harry and another Happy Birthday for someone else at Harry’s request. Then the TRON MCP voice comes up and calls everyone “programs” and tells us how to use the restrooms (it’s funnier than it sounds).
Finally, TRON LEGACY, the reason I wanted to really try for BNAT this year to begin with, hits the screen. 3D IMAX BNAT is practically a pipe dream in a way. 3D IMAX is amazing on certain films, and this was no exception. It was great.
TRON LEGACY has gotten a lot of shit, and plot holes abound, but it’s a standard and basic storytelling trope: creation turns against creator. Moreover, the visceral negative reactions to it stem from fans of the original, who saw it when they were kids, wanting it to grow up with them. And it doesn’t. It remains a simple story. It’s a kids movie for the most part. Simple story with silly plotholes, like so many other stories we loved as kids. I’m a kid and frankly I was able to easily accept the movie for what it was. Unlike some others, I believe that for myself the BNAT closing movie delirium truly contributed to enjoying TRON LEGACY’s visual elements even more and it loosened me up for appreciating the storyline without feeling like it needed to be for me as adult but to be for me as a kid. Part of my love for BNAT on the whole is that it does for me as an adult what great movies did for me as a kid. It’s truly like re-experiencing STAR WARS for the first time nearly every time.
And it was over. The bus trip back was infinitely shorter in feel, and we wandered into the Highball to watch Harry open gifts and to chat with everyone and then to arrange lunch. It was the first time I also closed BNAT with a great coffee porter beer and it felt right to do so. :) Lunch was had with the fantastic Melissa from MN and with Meghan and with a couple of other BNATters that wandered in. We then slept and I got to meet a non-BNAT friend I had been trying to meet for years. And then Guero’s and then for Jenn and I sleep.
The community that surrounds BNAT is honestly almost as good as the event itself. You find out quickly why people come from all over the world to do this. Yes, it’s the movies, but it’s also about the very much regular people that Harry understands love movies. There are a few familiar movie faces that attend (and I know for a fact they fill out applications like the rest of us), but honestly, the event is so very much about just being a very regular person that loves movies. That’s what I love about it. If I even DID end up in the business, I honestly would think twice about applying. That’s not who it’s for. It’s for people that love being the audience.