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Friday, January 28, 2011

Movie Review: Tron Legacy

Sigh. It really does break my heart to write this review-- this review more than many others. It hurts because I am a BIG fan of the original Tron. It came out when I was 10 years old. Back then I was a pretty hefty computer nerd-- now this is back when not many people even had a computer in their homes  (I think at this point I may have had the Commodore 64, and the TRS-80 before that). TRON appealed to me on so many levels-- it was smart and great to look at. It still is! And who could not love the soundtrack by Wendy Carlos-- iconic! It was a great film that continues to stand on it's own, and I had never even really considered a sequel to be all that necessary. True, there was a video game called Tron 2.0 that came out several years back that acted as an interesting sequel (it even featured the voices of Bruce Boxleitner and Cindy Morgan).

Flash to 2009, San Diego Comic-Con....Walt Disney pictures is presenting their slate of new films. And as the presentation ends, the speaker comes back up on stage and says "Oh, wait! There's one more thing!" The lights go out, and then they show this:

Well, everyone collectively shat their pants. Back then, it was called T2ron. They later changed it to Tron: Legacy. I was EXCITED!!!!! I hadn't thought about a Tron sequel, and then it just kinda pops up out of nowhere! That teaser trailer was a preview to gauge audience interest. Needless to say, the audience WAS ELATED! They then went into production on the film, and we waited.

Well, I saw it. I saw it in IMAX and in 3D. And I have to tell you...I haven't been this disappointed in a film in a LONG time.

TRON: Legacy was boring, hollow, and poorly written, with one of the worst CG makeup jobs I've ever seen (for superior CG makeup, see Surrogates with Bruce Willis).

Here's the story-- back in the 1980s, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) was a promising computer programmer that had his work stolen by his colleague Ed Dillinger, who presents the work to their bosses at Encom, is promoted, then fires Flynn. Beaten, Flynn opens an arcade where he becomes the master of the top games of the day (he can play video games better than anybody). Long story short, his friends (Alan and Lara) help him break into Encom to try to get proof of Dillinger's theivery, when Flynn is sucked into a computer world and must fight to get out (I'm leaving out a lot of details to save time). TRON: Legacy picks up a few years after the first film. At t his point, Flynn has a son, and he tells him bedtime stories of his adventures in the computer world. Suddenly, Flynn disappears. 20 years later, his son is tipped off by Flynn's old friend Alan (Boxleitner) that he got a text message from Flynn (he still has that pager from the 80s? And it still works?!) for Alan to meet him at his old arcade. Long story short, Flynn's son Sam goes to the arcade, and is sucked into the computer world, then heads off to try to find his dad.

This is the kind of film where you REALLY have to suspend your disbelief-- even though that's implied by the very STILL have to forget that most of the crap that happens in this film is ridiculous. Well, maybe that's the wrong word. I was waiting for this film to DO SOMETHING INTERESTING with the "legacy" that the original Tron has left. This is such a rich story, with so many possiblities...and they blew it, as far as I'm concerned. They had stuff with Dillingers' son in the film...did nothing with it. All of the tech speak and tech puns are gone, except for a few recycled lines from the original film that were clumbsily tacked on ("Greetings Program!" and "End of line." to name two). There were two incredibly boring sequences to provide back story for things that happened in between the two films. And the title character, Tron...he's in the film for about 10 minutes! And they don't even talk much about him! LAME!!!!!!!!!

The worst-- the absolute WORST thing of all..........the Jeff Bridges CG makeup! They did this CG thing to make Bridges look the way he did back in the 80s. MONUMENTAL fail. It looked bad. It looked like Bridges had way too much botox injected in his face, because there was absolutely no emotion to be read in his "virtual" performance. This is NOTHING like what they did in Avatar, for example-- where the actors performances actually came through the effects. Here, it was a flat-line. Dull, lifeless, fake. MAJOR disappointment. I mean, Tron broke a lot of ground at the time of it's release back in 1982. It was revolutionary. Not so much here.

Don't get me wrong-- the Light Cycle stuff is GREAT, as were the other action scenes. Let's not forget  Daft Punk's soundtrack-- FANTASTIC, and getting a new album from those guys is probably the best thing about the movie. But I'm afraid that that stuff does nothing really to improve the overall quality.

There is a disclaimer at the beginning of the film stating that not every scene in the film is in 3D; there are both 2D and 3D scenes. Honestly, they should have stuck with 2D. The 3D seemed flat and stale to me. For instance, before the film started there was a trailer for some kind of nature documentary that had the most beautiful 3D photography I've seen since Avatar, and even Jackass 3D(!). Comparing that to Tron: Legacy....Tron lost out.

Like I said before, it really breaks my heart to trash this movie. I so wanted to like it! I know there are a lot of people that did like this movie, and I can understand why-- there's nothing else really like it out there. As far as I'm concerned, this is one of the most disappointing movie going experiences I've ever had.


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