Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Movie Review: Tron Legacy

Release Date: December 17, 2010 (3D/2D theaters and IMAX 3D) 
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures 
Director: Joseph Kosinski 
Screenwriter: Eddy Kitsis, Adam Horowitz 
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner, James Frain, Beau Garrett, Michael Sheen 
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi 
MPAA Rating: PG (for sequences of sci-fi action violence and brief mild language) 
Official Website: Disney.com/Tron 

So Here’s What The Film Is About…
20 years later, Encom has taken the world by storm; providing people with state of the art technology that would have Steve Jobs shaking in his boots.  But where’s Kevin Flynn?  Didn’t he take over the company once Dillinger was exposed as a thief?  Apparently Flynn has been missing for 20 years, leaving the more money hungry administrators in charge of the powerful corporation. 

Enter Sam Flynn, son of the missing owner, who seems to have it in him to ruin the present image of Encom and maintain his father’s vision of providing cheap technology to the people of the world.  As the introduction pumps through, and we learn of Sam’s deep longing to find his father, Sam accidentally finds his way into the game grid where he runs into a program with the spitting image of a twenty year old Kevin Flynn.  Of course we, the die-hard Tron fans of old, know this Flynn doppelganger as the program called Clu, who has a dream of ruling the game grid…and the world of the Users. 

Limited time allows Sam and his real father the chance to escape and go back home.  The monkey wrench?  Clu will stop at nothing to enter into the real world.  Can Sam and Kevin stop Clu from world domination, or will Clu succeed and cause mass chaos in both worlds?

And Here’s What I Thought About It…
In this day and age, it’s really is hard to please the average film goer when it comes to CGI integration in realistic movies.  If it looks obviously animated, it becomes a distraction which, in turn means the majority of audience members will hate on that aspect of the film’s animation endeavors.  But of course, while these critics are making fun of the animated head of Clu (made to resemble Jeff Bridges) and how unrealistic it is, they also fail to recognize that Kevin Flynn, who is a real human being living in a digital world, has somehow lived for twenty years in a world where human food doesn’t exist.  How did he exist for so long without sustenance?  This will always remain uncertain.

The point?  If you want realism in your movies, don’t watch Science Fiction.

Now this isn’t to say Legacy doesn’t have its flaws, they merely lay in the areas of the film that most people don’t seem to care about to begin with.  But I guess when it comes to a winter action film, the quality of the story doesn’t matter as much to people when it comes to digital effects.

It’s nothing to run home about; the plot isn’t as profound as Disney makes it out to be, but the story’s execution is the best it could be given the circumstances.  The question is, however, did we know what was coming because of the painfully revealing trailers released by Disney, or is the plot just that obvious?  I would vote the latter, but I can’t say that with absolute certainty. 

The retro, David Bowe motif that ran through a good chunk of the film was a bit much.  The 1982 film presented the game grid as a world filled with very stoic, wooden characters with no more life in them than an idle Jellyfish.  But almost 30 years later, Legacy shows a world much more vibrant, exciting and rebellious.  Even if you’re one of those people who can’t get over Clu’s cartoony style head, it’s hard to deny the beautifully digitalized world of the game grid.  The simulated ground flowed with gorgeous light cycles which trail semi-transparent ribbons of color, shimmering and twisting all throughout the racing sequence.  It’s obvious that Disney went above and beyond in upping the anti with better animation combined with its darker, more gothic tone.  Even the suits worn by the characters were spectacles in and of themselves.

Favoritism on my part lies with a film’s script and always has, so I was quite disappointed with the Legacy’s very mediocre story, but it was MORE than tolerable to sit through thanks to the tremendous performances given by the cast.  Jeff Bridges, like always, gives audiences everything and more, technically playing three different characters; The younger and more colorful personality of Kevin Flynn, the older Zen-like religious wiseman of the older (and hairier) Flynn, and the defiant and dictatorous computer program known as Clu, all three coming off very believable and fun.  Garrett Hedlund, who’s always brought terrific performances to the big screen, was perfect in portraying a very confident man whose feeling of loss is never overshadowed by his vibrant personality.  But the best addition to the film’s “minor character” list is Bruce Boxleitner return as Alan, also known as Tron, who has a voice made for the big screen.

Speaking of which, did any of the other Tron geeks get a major nerdgasm in how well Tron was used in that subtle, non-revealing way?  Truly, Legacy was made for the cult of fans that have loved the first Tron film ever since 1982, or whenever a fan first discovered the landmark Disney Sci-Fi film.

Much like most films these days, Legacy is in 3D, but it doesn’t lend much…if anything.  All the 3D technology does for the film is to help pop the characters out a bit, but the action sequences are hardly utilized with the 3D at all.  The film is even prefaced with a note, letting us know that only certain parts of the movie were filmed in 3D.  This, in turn, compelled me to take off my enormous glasses only to realize just how much brighter the overall look of the film is.  As advanced as 3D technology is today, no one has found a way to get rid of the annoying dimness provided by the glasses.  And to be honest, I think I would have enjoyed the film just as much, if not more, had I seen in it 2D.

Legacy hits the ground running almost from the start, which is always the more intelligent thing to do in Science Fiction.  Its downfall, as stated above, is its inconclusive plotline.  It’s a roller coaster ride of a film and may very well be one of the more visually exciting and fun films of the year, hopefully worthy of an Oscar nomination.  But Quorra’s statement of “All your questions will be answered” doesn’t really extend its favor to the audience very well.  Through all the twists and turns we go through in the film, in the end, nothing changes.  Sure, Sam decides to take back his fathers company, but he was already keeping it in check with his late night invasions and technological thievery. 

The film hopes to explain the plot through a series of expositional dialog that’s forced into our ears, giving the illusion that the plot is effectively being executed when in reality, it’s just causing more confusion.  This has a lot to do with the fact that so much was packed into the story that it was hard to keep the plot simple enough not to rack the brain to and fro.  It throws one to many plot devices at us; such as three versions of one character, a society of intelligently advanced programs called “Isos” which were obliterated before we had a chance to really know what they were, A beautiful and fun woman whose purpose in the story wasn’t entirely clear, and a highly developed world that’s too complex too explain in just under two hours.  The end result of all this and more is bringing the audience to a state of mind no different from when they sat down in the seats of the auditorium two hours before.

Don’t expect too much with this film.  It isn’t mind blowing nor is it a milestone in the history of cinematic excursions.  But it is a spectacle that should be seen and will keep your eyes open and your body pumping ready for the next scene.  And while it doesn’t even touch the animation achievements made by James Cameron’s Avatar, it certainly brings a much more enjoyable and exciting ride when it comes to Science Fiction films in general.

Rating 7.5 out of 10

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