Friday, December 24, 2010

Back to the Grid: Review of Tron: Legacy

Oh “Tron: Legacy”. What you could have been. I was going to title this “Fanservice: The Movie” but there wasn’t even enough of that. I guess we should all just be glad it wasn’t called TR2N ( ).

I will warn you that in this review, I will extensively compare “Tron: Legacy” to the original “Tron” movie. Perhaps this is unfair, because many movie goers will not have seen the first one (the two main actors for “Legacy” weren’t even born when the first movie came out). However, since one of the major reasons this movie was made was due to fan support, a lot of the audience will have seen the first movie, and may be disappointed with what they find in this one.

Whereas “Tron” was pretty solidly sci-fi adventure, “Legacy” starts as an action flick, and it should have stayed more in that vein. Instead, it ends up as a mad hash of Star Wars and The Big Lebowski.

At certain points, I could almost hear the writers (8 mentioned on IMBD ) discussing where they wanted to go with the movie. Should it be on / in the internet? What about Y2K? We gotta work the character of Tron in, but how? I don't think I agree on their final choice - a strange alternative dimension as opposed to the inner workings of ENCOM.

At the beginning of the movie, Sam, the currently MIA Kevin Flynn’s son, pulls of a terrific digital heist. I was hoping this topical Wikileak-esque release of a for-profit program onto the Internet would lead the story forward, but instead, Sam ends up answering a page and going to an old arcade to journey to the Grid. I won’t say I didn’t enjoy the trip back to Flynn’s Arcade, but the earlier setup seemed so good, it seemed a waste not to use it (granted, why couldn't he have done his hacking from the comfort of his own computer? Not as cinimatic I guess, so it's understandable.)

There is way too much talking in “Legacy”. One of the attractive aspects of the first film was that the visuals did a lot of the talking; things were mentioned in passing but not discussed. Here, characters try to explain everything. At one point, I all but begged for a flashback – when Quorra discussed meeting Flynn. The movie had already proven it was ok showing flashbacks; rather than sit and look at her intense eye makeup, why not show what could have been a very exciting and terrifying scene?

That was another thing. The bad guys were not scary enough. At certain times they were threatening, but not like Master Control, with his deep voice and Big Brother attitude. Even the light cycles in the first movie were rather torturous – I remember flinching before impending crashes. With the speed and randomness of both the physics and paths driven by the cycles in “Legacy”, there was no time to anticipate anything – it was all just a light show.

A lot of things looked like other things in this movie. The first disk fight reminded me of FFX’s Blitzball ( ). Quorra reminded me of Leeloo from “Fifth Element.” The dance party and bar reminded me of any number of taverns and cantinas from movies and TV (Quark’s bar for instance). Zuse enters the ranks of pale bishi-to-foppish characters like Jereth from “Labyrinth”, Prince Nuada from “Hellboy 2”. The ranks of programs ready for battle were reminiscent of the CGIed drones in “Attack of the Clones”. Flynn himself is weirdly Dude-ish.

And some things just didn’t make sense. Why was Clu Hitlering-out, giving some useless speech to his minions when he should have been sending them after his enemies? I couldn’t keep track of who the helmeted henchmen was, or even how many of them there were (at least not in my first viewing.) I mentioned the physics of the light cycles earlier, which seemed to be in conflict of their own rules at certain points. Sometimes people flew out of their bikes when they crashed, some times they de-rezed (which now that I think about it, happened in "Tron" too). Sometimes bikes burst apart at contact, other times they merely sent out sparks.

All of this being said, “Tron: Legacy” was not unwatchable. It was still cool, and the Daft Punk soundtrack is beyond excellent. It was simply what I expected-not more, maybe slightly less (I wish Jeff Bridges had brought some of the charm and fun of Flynn with him, but both of those things were sorely lacking). Sam and Quorra were more tolerable than I thought they’d be. It was cool to see light cycles again (I really liked the Flynn’s throwback model.) I liked the addition of flying light jets, however at one point I swear I heard a TIE fighter.

1 comment:

Den said...

I have to agree with your critique. I saw it in 3D, did you?

The best 3D movie I've seen was Avatar and I saw it in; IMAX 3-D, Dolby 3-D, RealD (I saw all three several times and the IMAX was best) next was The Polar Express: An IMAX 3D Experience.