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Review: Tron: Legacy

Dec. 15, 2010by: Chris Bumbray
100%

PLOT: Twenty years after Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), the CEO of ENCOM International, disappears, his son Sam (Garret Hedlund) finds himself sucked into a mysterious computer world, ruled by CLU, his father's doppleganger, who rules with an iron fist. Forced into gladiatorial combat, Sam escapes with the help of Quorra (Olivia Wilde), a beautiful warrior, who also happens to be the real Kevin Flynn's confidante and protector. Reunited with his father at last, Sam makes a desperate attempt to get back to the real world before CLU, and his army can use the portal back to Earth to start an invasion, where CLU can enforce his cruel, genocidal vision.

REVIEW: Well, by this point I'm sure everyone reading this has already had their fill of TRON: LEGACY reviews. I've been reading them pretty religiously myself, but the numerous mixed reviews had me walk into the film with a certain degree of trepidation. Yet, I think reading those early reviews actually added to my enjoyment of the film, as I didn't walk in expecting the game changer a lot of my peers might have expected after the brilliant trailers and comic-con footage.


To be sure, TRON: LEGACY is not a perfect film. Far from it actually. The script is very weak, and it basically seems that the writers took the scripts for BATMAN BEGINS, STAR WARS, TRON, and even THE BIG LEBOWSKI, chucked them in a blender and called the result TRON: LEGACY. Thematically no new ground is broken whatsoever. Sam Flynn as played by Garret Hedlund is basically Bruce Wayne-lite. He's a child of privilege, having grown up without parents, and mentored by a kindly, pseudo father-figure (with Bruce Boxleitner's Alan Bradley filling in for Alfred).

Like Wayne, the trappings of wealth don't interest him whatsoever, with him feeling more of an obligation to do good. While Wayne fought crime as Batman, Flynn fights his own corporation's greed by playing pranks, and leaking the source code for his company's multi-billion dollar OS onto the net in order to make it free for whomever wants it.


The first twenty minutes of TRON: LEGACY really made me wonder if director Joseph Kosinski was aware how dangerously close he was getting to plagiarizing Christopher Nolan's BATMAN films, with even the cinematography being reminiscent of Wally Pfister's work on BEGINS, and THE DARK KNIGHT. Yet, even in these early scenes, TRON: LEGACY was entertaining. Hedlund, while no Christian Bale, made a likable hero, and it was great seeing Boxleitner again (I was a huge BABYLON 5 geek back in the day).

But then, about twenty-five minutes in, Sam hits the Grid, and the film explodes into full 3D, sucking us into the TRON universe. At this point, what began as a BATMAN BEGINS ripoff became something else entirely. As weak as the screenplay is, visually TRON: LEGACY is a perfect film. You've NEVER seen 3D like you've seen here, and visually it may be even more impressive than the game-changing AVATAR. Every single frame of the film once it hits The Grid is gorgeous, and you could literally take any frame from the film and pass it off as a fine piece of modern art.

And the music- don't even get me started! The idea to have Daft Punk score LEGACY is inspired, and rarely have I seen a film where the music so perfectly complements what you're seeing on-screen. By the same token, if you were to strip away the Daft Punk score, I have a feeling TRON would have imploded, as the music is essential. Even in a film like INCEPTION, where the music plays an important role, I'd say it's responsible for about 25% of the film's success. Here, the DAFT PUNK score goes about 50/50 with Kosinski's visuals. It's almost like a techno-musical, especially once we hit the incredible “Derezzed” scene, where Sam, Quorra, and Flynn fight their way through a nightclub full of opponents, with Daft Punk themselves appear on-screen mixing the tracks. The effect is incredible, and without a doubt this whole sequence is one of the cinematic high points of 2010.


Which makes the tragedy of the TRON: LEGACY screenplay all the more tragic. If as much care had been put into the script as went into the visuals, this might have been a masterpiece. But as it stands, it's still a very unique action-adventure and a heck of a lot of fun. In addition to Hedlund, TRON features a lot of other fine performances, the highlight of which is Olvia Wilde as the precocious, kindly, somewhat naive, but still resourceful and ferocious Quorra. Between this and her upcoming turn in COWBOYS & ALIENS, this is going to be a big year for Wilde, and throughout this film I truly felt like I was watching the birth of a superstar.

As for Jeff Bridges, he's likely going to be a very controversial character. Forget his character from the first TRON, as the guy he's playing here is NOT the same Kevin Flynn. Granted, it's probably been about a decade since I last saw TRON, but I don't remember him being so “Dude”-like. Essentially, he's re-creating The Dude from BIG LEBOWSKI, and while I can understand that sticking in some folks' crawl, I was surprisingly OK with it, even when he tells Sam at one point that he's “going to knock on the sky to see what it sounds like”. Obviously Bridges is having fun playing a sort of Obi-Wan Lebowski, and I had fun watching him. Less successful is Bridges' other part, as the villainous CLU. His performance is OK, but the FX process to make Bridges resemble the way he looked in 1982 isn't quite there yet, and is the only special effect that doesn't entirely work.

As for the other returning TRON player, Boxleitner, he's got a pretty tiny role, and hardcore TRON fans may not like the way the titular TRON is dealt with here, in a way that seems almost like an afterthought. The other noteworthy performance comes from Michael Sheen, channelling David Bowie circa-Ziggy Stardust as club-owner Zeus. My only complaint about Sheen is that I wish he was in it more, as he adds a little levity to what's a surprisingly dark ride for a PG Disney flick.

Suffice to say, TRON: LEGACY is a profoundly flawed film as far as character development, and story goes. But as a visual experience, it comes damn close to fully compensating for it's shortcomings on the page. Let's face it, the original TRON, while fun to a child of the eighties, is no classic. It's not MEGAFORCE, but it's not STAR WARS either. It's a fun, if dated film, and TRON:LEGACY improves on it by a wide margin. The ending naturally paves the way for a sequel (as does a big name cameo early in the film who I suspect might be the next film's antagonist), and if this pull in big bucks, I have faith that another instalment might actually really take this to the next level. Visually they've got TRON down cold. Now, all they need to do is buckle-down, churn out a great script, and then we'll really have something.

Source: JoBlo.com

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+0
2:29PM on 01/29/2011

Legacy Maintained

The classic Tron is a nostalgic piece of art that most of us remember from our childhood and from experience, we know that Disney does not usually produce decent sequels, Tron: Legacy being a rare exception. In today's hyper active world it seems to get harder and harder to maintain one's attention for an entire movie but this movie sucked me in and I did not leave the world of Tron: Legacy until the end credits arrived.

The 3D gimmick is quite irratating these days but this also seems to
The classic Tron is a nostalgic piece of art that most of us remember from our childhood and from experience, we know that Disney does not usually produce decent sequels, Tron: Legacy being a rare exception. In today's hyper active world it seems to get harder and harder to maintain one's attention for an entire movie but this movie sucked me in and I did not leave the world of Tron: Legacy until the end credits arrived.

The 3D gimmick is quite irratating these days but this also seems to be one of those few movies where it does the final product some good.
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+2
2:57AM on 12/16/2010
I saw this tonight, and I liked it a lot. The original Tron was a fun movie with great visual effects and a fairly weak story as well, and frankly that's what I went into this thinking it was going to be and it was just that. It also helped that I watched the original a couple of hours before, so it was nice seeing a minor character from the first movie (CLU)actually playing a much larger role in this one.

***SPOILER****
The "big name cameo"'s character is supposed to be the son of the
I saw this tonight, and I liked it a lot. The original Tron was a fun movie with great visual effects and a fairly weak story as well, and frankly that's what I went into this thinking it was going to be and it was just that. It also helped that I watched the original a couple of hours before, so it was nice seeing a minor character from the first movie (CLU)actually playing a much larger role in this one.

***SPOILER****
The "big name cameo"'s character is supposed to be the son of the original movie's antagonist, played by David Warner. So, yes, he probably will be the main bad guy in the sequel. And we'll probably actually see Tron in the sequel as well.
***END SPOILER****

If you're looking for a fun ride that doesn't make you think too much, then this is the perfect movie. If you're looking for the meaning of life, I suggest you look elsewhere.
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+5
7:03PM on 12/15/2010
Jeff Bridges was pretty dude-like in the original movie, so that really shouldn't be an issue at all.... and I'm glad we can finally comment on the reviews on here.
Jeff Bridges was pretty dude-like in the original movie, so that really shouldn't be an issue at all.... and I'm glad we can finally comment on the reviews on here.
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5:14PM on 12/15/2010
great review chris, can't wait to check it out in IMAX 3D this weekend
great review chris, can't wait to check it out in IMAX 3D this weekend
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4:26PM on 12/15/2010

I'll be tripping the lights fantastic this Friday!

So with a weak story and thin characters, this is basically the Avatar of 2010. I have no problem with that as it will still be better than 90% of the shit released this year. I've been waiting for a visually and aurally arresting movie ever since Inception. While this may not hold a candle to that film, it still looks better than any of the other CG-enhanced blockbusters of 2010. Can't wait!
So with a weak story and thin characters, this is basically the Avatar of 2010. I have no problem with that as it will still be better than 90% of the shit released this year. I've been waiting for a visually and aurally arresting movie ever since Inception. While this may not hold a candle to that film, it still looks better than any of the other CG-enhanced blockbusters of 2010. Can't wait!
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2:07PM on 12/15/2010
Why send the kid in? Bradley wrote the TRON program - why doesn't he send in TRON? TRON knows this place! Gamer kid doesn't! Why call it TRON at all? Call it CLU:LEGACY.....
Why send the kid in? Bradley wrote the TRON program - why doesn't he send in TRON? TRON knows this place! Gamer kid doesn't! Why call it TRON at all? Call it CLU:LEGACY.....
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2:41AM on 12/16/2010
the people voting you down clearly have never seen tron.
the people voting you down clearly have never seen tron.
3:00AM on 12/16/2010
It's actually explained fairly easily in the movie. Go and see it, and then comment on it.
It's actually explained fairly easily in the movie. Go and see it, and then comment on it.
12:58PM on 12/15/2010

Still looking forward to it.

As I recall, folks weren't to keeon on the original Tron either when it came out. That's why it took 30 years to get a sequel.
As I recall, folks weren't to keeon on the original Tron either when it came out. That's why it took 30 years to get a sequel.
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