Speaking Seriously About the iPad

In January this year, I wrote about why the iPad matters. There, I pointed that a lot of changes would come to the digital world since it appeared.

Recently, the iPad was officially launched in Brazil. Now you don’t need to import it and pay huge taxes for it; you can go to a local shop and buy it, paying the huge taxes for it.

There is only one problem with it: All reviews that people post here about it are translations of American articles, saying how awesome the new iBook Store is, how now you don’t need to carry books around, how you can easily watch your favourite TV series on Hulu and get movies from Netflix, buy the soundtrack of the movie or the new album of your favourite artist on iTunes Store… In short, all the good things about having a slim notebook where you won’t type much.

The problem is: Nothing of this is available here in Brazil. So, in the end, the iPad is nothing but a huge iPod Touch. And when you point that, people get pissed.

I mentioned that on Twitter to someone that posted a translated article from IT World (I think, can’t really remember right now) which mentioned all those good services you can access but are only available in very selected places of the planet. Their answer? “The iPad is an awesome device and people that say it’s a huge iPod never used it or don’t like it ;)” (yes, smiley face and all.)

First of all, I used it already. My aunt have one and I’m still trying to figure out how she uses it. I like the bigger virtual keyboard compared to the iPod Touch, and the huge screen to check websites, but that’s it — exactly what a bigger iPod Touch would do. Second, if you read my original post, yes, I do like the iPad because what it means. So neither points were valid, to start with. But this guy had to defend how awesome the device was, doesn’t he?

That’s when I pointed that a small netbook would do the same, for much less money ’cause, in the end, all you have is internet access to read the local newspaper online. And any device with connectivity would suffice, including a recent iPod Touch (as long as you have a wifi around) or even an iPone 3GS, which would do much more than the iPad for around the same price.

So no, it’s not that I don’t like the iPad or never used it. The problem is the tiny minded people with money that don’t want to share their things with the world and put geological barriers on a bondariless technology. And while those barriers are still up, the iPad would be just a huge iPod Touch on everywhere except the USA.

PS: Just one thing: I used the iTunes Store in Australia and as a digital distribution system, it’s awesome. The problem is that you get crippled versions of most albums instead of the full thing. One example is the soundtrack of “Across the Universe”. I bought it from iTunes Store Australia, only to find a few minutes later that the American version have 5 or 6 tracks more. So the barrier is still there.

Tron: Legacy (2010)

IMDB Plot:

A virtual-world worker looks to take down the Master Control Program.

Spoilers alert: There may be some minor spoilers. I’ll try hard to hold myself to only say things that you probably saw in the trailer but some stuff may spill into this review.

Let’s step back from that horrible, horrible description from IMDB and put it straight: 28 years after Kevin Flynn steps inside a mainframe and saw other programs as human beings, it’s Kevin’s son, Sam, to step in. You know that by the trailer.

So, let’s review this movie this way:

First, this is a sequel. How does it fit in the previous story? Disney said that, to understand “Tron: Legacy” you don’t need to know the story behind the original “Tron”. That’s kinda true, the story of this new movie is self-contained and the points you know to follow this story are given in the plot. Obviously, knowing the original movie actually helps, but, as Disney said, it’s not required.

Second, is it as groundbreaking as the original Tron? The answer is no. Let’s be honest: The original Tron had amazing 15 minutes of computer generated story and, today, we have whole movies made completely by computers (and Pixar makes a huge profit with them). And the background with bright blue/orange/red layout is everywhere, from our nightstand clocks to the display on our cars. But it doesn’t ruin the story that the original Tron universe is here and now, in the real universe; the virtual universe of Tron was expanded, improved over the original one with current day’s changes. Think about it as what J.J.Abrams did to the Star Trek universe.

Since we are talking about the story, let me say that I’ve been hearing Daft Punk soundtrack for the movie for about two weeks already and I couldn’t stop the goosebumps from “The Grid” music playing in the first minutes of the movie. And, to prove the point of real/updated world, they mixed it in a very nice way, right out of the bat.

Acting is pretty good, even for the virtual Jeff Bridges. The newcomer Garrett Hedlund, which I can’t remember seeing in any other movies (although he did some and I’m the first to admit that not seeing him is completely my fault) is also pretty good and saying Olivia Wilde is a good actress would be silly, as we know her from the two seasons of House.

Speaking of Olivia Wilde, it’s kinda weird seeing her play Quorra as a naive program compared to the strong Thirteen from House. On the other hand, her look in this movie and her sexy, sexy voice is really nice. And no, it’s a Disney movie, so no skin. Not from her, not from any other female cast. Which is kinda sad, when you think that Olivia Wilde and Beau Garret in the cast.

Also, I need to talk about Jeff Bridges acting, playing a young and an old version of himself (actually, the Flynn guy he played in the previous movie). There is a point on an actors career that he simply masters the art of acting (except for Gwyneth Paltrow). So he masterfully plays an angry version and a zen version of the old character without a flaw, including the use of slangs that someone would consider part of history which, actually, are, in the story.

The CGI is on par with the current movies. There is nothing to add about that and there is nothing so absurdly amazing that you haven’t seen in other movies. Yes, that includes the young Flynn played by the now old Jeff Bridges (which, again, you saw in the trailer). We saw what can be done in Avatar, so it was no surprise they could do that to living actors. And you wouldn’t expect something subpar from a company as big as Disney, would you?

On a side note about the CGI, I went to see the 3D version of it, on the cinema and, honestly, it’s not worth the extra buck for it. There are about a couple of places where the 3D pops up but, mostly, it’s just to point that actor 1 is in front of actor 2, which is completely unnecessary and not worth the headache. Also, if you get the 3D version and get the subtitles, I really hope they don’t do what they did here: The subtitles where in the same plane, in the same place, all the time, even when something behind them should be in the front. Headache galore.

Unfortunately, not everything is perfect in this movie (but, again, not everything was perfect in the original anyway). The kernel of the plot is weak, to say the least (so weak that I couldn’t figure out what was the problem — or the solution, in the cast — even after the movie ended). The lack of skin makes really a kiddie movie and doesn’t explore some more subtle things like what would happen in a relationship between a human and a program (and the original had only a program-on-a-program action). Daft Punk soundtrack is awesome but extremely overused and gets tiring right in the end of the movie. The big plot twist is not so big and you can figure it out waaaay before it is exposed. And a good easter-egg for after the credits isn’t shown.

Overall, it’s good movie and expands the original universe nicely, although with an “ok” script (not nice, not “WHOA”, just ok).

And, in the end, I couldn’t stop thinking “Man, that would be an awesome game…”