Two weeks ago, I had occasion to see Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner in IMAX at the TCL Chinese Theater. To show my gentle readers just how jaded a mere four months in California has made me, I balked. I wavered. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go. This was a Wednesday. What the hell else would I be doing: counting flowers on the wall? I was wishy-washy, and I dilly-dallied. Did I want to make that drive? (Take the 101 to Cahuenga Boulevard! We live here now!) To paraphrase Winston Zeddemore in the original Ghostbusters, “If someone asks you if you want to see the Final Cut of Blade Runner in IMAX, YOU SAY ‘YES!’”
I had another compelling reason to go. It was my lovely wife who snagged the tickets, and Blade Runner is her favorite film. She even wrote a book about it!
One week ago, I had occasion to visit Disney World in Orlando with my godchildren. To show my gentle readers just how jaded a mere four months in California has made me, I balked. I wavered. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go. This was a Wednesday. What the hell else would I be doing: smokin’ cigarettes and watchin’ Captain Kangaroo? I dilly-dallied, and I was wishy-washy. Do I want to make that flight? (Take the PCH to LAX. Sit on a plane for four hours or so then cab it to the resort, baby. Don’t forget your special magic bracelet and your wallet! I know the routine!) To paraphrase Winston Zeddemore in the original Ghostbusters, “If someone asks you if you want to go to Disney World, YOU SAY ‘YES!’”
So I went. I spent quality time with the people I love the most. It was groovy. Riding the Jungle Cruise and the Haunted Mansion reminded me for all the world of my Blade Runner screening. These rides would not be built today. They are too special.
Space 220 was even worse. A fine-dining restaurant that pretends to be in space, patrons are ushered aboard an elevator that simulates a flight to the stratosphere. The doors open... into a largely grey space with black carpets and tables and huge video screens meant to look like windows to outer space. Occasionally, CGI spaceships and astronauts float by. Our server asked us if we wanted “space water.” Yes, this is the height of Imagineering Cleverness in this restaurant: “space water.” I’ll let that sink in.
Here’s the thing: in movies, in rides, in restaurants, I don’t think it’s asking too much to say, “Show me something new.” It’s not always easy for me to say YES. I said YES to Blade Runner and was rewarded with an embarrassment of riches because of the nature of the original film. I said YES to Ratatouille and Space 220 and received what seems in retrospect to be THE BARE MINIMUM one would need to call something a ride or a restaurant.
Now, I’m not trying to say here that the past was better (Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion, and Blade Runner) and that the future is awful (Ratatouille and Space 220). All I’m saying is that the future is awful... and that the past was better.