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Tron Legacy

A 2010 movie directed by Joseph Kosinski.

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"It's Bio-digital Jazz, man..."

  • Dec 31, 2010
Rating:
+3
1982 was a great year for fantasy and sci-fi films. It saw the release of The Dark Crystal, Blade Runner, The Thing, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and, of course, the all conquering E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. Also released was Steven Lisberger's Tron. While it certainly wasn't the best movie released that year, it was definitely the most technically ground breaking and perhaps (along with The Dark Crystal) one of the most daring. Tron pioneered the use of computer graphics imagery and other cutting edge animation and special effects techniques. Even Pixar's John Lasseter admits that if there had been no Tron, there would have been no Toy Story.
Made at a time when computers and video games were new and exciting, Tron was inspired by people's fascination with technology and, moreover, the possibilities of technology. We were at the frontier of a new digital world where anything was possible. 17 years before The MatrixTron contemplated the idea of what it would be like to enter a world constructed entirely of computer data - The Grid. It foresaw a world that was reliant on computers and data protection. Of course, Tron was made at a time before the internet, before e-mail, social networking, blogging, online dating and massively multiplayer online games took over people's lives. We now live in a world filled with technology. We're bombarded with information from a myriad of technological sources, we carry devices that connect us people all over the world, giving us access to seemingly infinite amounts of information and entertainment. People now have a greater familiarity with computers and are more comfortable with technology. In the years following the release of Tron, movie special effects have also become far more sophisticated and audiences have grown far more familiar with how certain things are visualised and created onscreen, particularly when it comes to CGI. I think that's ultimately why Tron's belated sequel ends up feeling more mundane in comparison.

As a fan of the original film, I was eagerly awaiting the release of Tron: Legacy. Now, I'm not the kind of fan that thinks the original is beyond criticism. Quite the opposite in fact. Tron was a heavily flawed film; it looked great, sounded great and had moments of brilliance, but it was let down by a weak story and script. Sadly (and, I guess, rather fittingly), Tron: Legacy suffers the same fate.

This is the ultimate concept movie. It's all about concepts - from the look of the film to it's story. Every shot looks like it's been torn from the pages of a slick, sci-fi concept design book, and the plot is hung together on unrefined conceptual ideas. As a result, the film feels rather hollow and insubstantial, and it will leave you asking a lot of questions. It was no surprise to me that the screenplay for this film was written by two of the writers behind the TV show Lost. That series also had a plot flimsily held together with half thought out concepts, was full of threads that went nowhere, had holes in the story the size of the Grand Canyon, and left viewers asking a lot of questions.
Tron: Legacy has lots of nice ideas, but most of them are unexplored to a satisfying degree. Many things that need to happen for narrative, dramatic, or character arc reasons, simply don't happen. There are just far too many things in this film that are set up only to go nowhere: Edward Dillinger Jr (a criminally underused Cillian Murphy), Flynn's original light-cycle, the Iso's, Tron himself... The list goes on. I suspect that some characters and ideas were included purely in consideration for possible sequels.
40 minutes in to this film, I really thought I was going to see something very special. The initial set up of Sam Flynn's character, his entry into The Grid, the disc game and light cycle sequence are all handled well and the film has real momentum. Sadly, that momentum is completely lost during the middle portion of the film and is never really regained until the climax.
Director Joseph Kosinski has a background in advertising and that really shows in this, his debut feature. He certainly knows how to compose a good looking shot and he deals with the action sequences well, yet his inexperience in handling dialogue and pacing is obvious. And, judging by the shameless product placement for Ducati Motorcycles, he hasn't totally forgotten his advertising roots.

Tron: Legacy does go a long way on its looks alone though. Parts of this movie are, in a word, stunning. The film has some highly impressive special effects work - I think this has to be a contender in the technical categories come Oscar season. Cleverly, they've taken the design aesthetic from Tron and given it a 21st Century spin. I was thrilled to see how certain things had been updated and re-imagined. The light cycles in particular were a highlight for me. Oddly though, despite the fact that it all looks fantastic, it feels less like a computer world than the original did, but that was possibly a deliberate move to show how The Grid had evolved.

Tron: Legacy sounds great too, thanks to a great score and some clever sound effects work.
Mixing Hans Zimmer-esque heavy brass and percussion with electronic sounds, Gallic dance music duo Daft Punk deliver a wonderfully pulsating score that really helps to drive the movie forward. There are a few nice tips of the hat to the original Tron soundtrack , in the form of some very Wendy Carlos sounding synth tones and a nice use of a track by Journey, who provided several songs for the original film.
The sound effects design is also impressive - I thought it was a neat touch that the more "basic" programs on the Grid speak with a more synthetic, digital resonance to their voices.

Performances in the film are solid, if a little underwhelming. Jeff Bridges is as good as always. I loved the Zen master/digital hippie vibe he's given Flynn, the character he reprises from the original. I understand much of that was down to Bridges himself who brought a real Zen Buddist to the production as an adviser. Of course, thanks to some clever (if not totally convincing) CGI, Bridges also plays a younger version of himself and his digital avatar, CLU, in the film. Bridges is really the heart of this film. His character is there to answer a lot of questions and explain a lot of the plot. As a result, he gets lumbered with some pretty lousy expositional dialogue, but he delivers it well and lightens things up with a few Dude-like remarks.
Garrett Hedlund is both watchable and likable in the lead role of Sam Flynn, yet he never really gets any material to sink his teeth into and so his performance ends up being rather bland.
Michael Sheen gives a very flamboyant turn as club owner Castor. He's equal parts Ziggy Stardust, Willy Wonka and Frank-N-Furter. He's good, but his performance is perhaps too big for the film, which for the most part has a serious, ponderous tone.
For me, the real revelation in this film was Olivia Wilde as Quorra. From the trailers I saw for this film, I was expecting her to be just another tight leather-clad, sassy, kung-fu kicking female character, like we see in every other sci-fi/fantasy film, but her character has far more depth than that. One of the few things the writers do right in the film is to make her something more than "the sexy love interest". Wilde gives the character a childlike quality - pure, innocent and inquisitive - and provides some much needed humour.

Simply put, Tron: Legacy is the movie equivalent of a bimbo: Great to look at, but a bit dumb and shallow. It's a film that sparks furiously, yet never quite ignites, which is a shame as it has all the ingredients for a truly great film. What we do have is a well made and entertaining, but highly flawed film that has a lot for fans of the original to enjoy. Those new to The Grid may be left more baffled, but the visual spectacle makes it well worth a watch.

RATING: 3.5 / 5

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June 17, 2011
Clear up the open items in a sequel.
June 17, 2011
Yeah, it looks like a sequel is going to be made, so I hope they do manage to tie up the loose ends. :)
 
December 31, 2010
You're nicer to this film that I was, I guess the barely coherent plot really got in the way of my enjoyment of the film. Great line on this: "Tron: Legacy is the movie equivalent of a bimbo: Great to look at, but a bit dumb and shallow." LOL! Welcome back, Simon and Happy New Year!!
January 01, 2011
Cheers, William. You sure didn't pull any punches in your review! Happy New Year! I hope 2011 is a great one for you. :)
 
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More TRON: Legacy reviews
review by . December 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Uninspired, Unimpressive, Dull And Redundant
Every once in awhile, we get to see a film aimed at displaying the latest advancements in movie magic. Movies such as this prove to be simple escapist entertainment that is meant to take the viewer along for its ride, and not much else. However, I think escapist entertainment is just another excuse of a mediocre film, since movies such as “The Matrix”, the anime “Spirited Away” and even the recently released “Inception” have managed to impress with a compelling …
review by . December 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Reviewing Tron Legacy is hard.  It is not a bad movie by any means but as I watched and observed it seemed as though there was something missing.  Along those lines it's not that Tron Legacy has nothing to offer, it's more that it's a movie that offers little more than it's own visually stimulation.  This wouldn't be bad at all IF Tron Legacy didn't try so hard to try to say something.  And we'll get to that.      By watching the …
review by . January 05, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
I never thought I would like this movie so much
“Tron Legacy eh? Isn’t Tron that weird old movie with the terrible computer graphics?”      Those were my first words when I heard of this movie. I remember watching Tron as a kid it came on the Disney Channel one day while watching I thought it was the coolest and weirdest thing ever. Obviously as a 9 year old kid I was really only watching it for the Light Cycle battles. I saw bits and pieces of it again a few years ago on TV I was channel surfing between …
review by . December 18, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
**1/2 out of ****      2010 seems to be a huge year for sequels. Long-awaited sequels in particular. First, we got "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps". Then we get "Tron: Legacy". So how has "Tron" aged in 30 years? Somewhat well. The sequel isn't half bad either, and in all respect it is every bit as average as the original. In an attempt to get an actual audience this time around, the filmmakers decided to have Jeff Bridges reprise his role as …
review by . June 08, 2011
Let's be clear on something here, just to be sure we understand: The original Tron was NOT about characters or plot! Never, ever! It really wasn't - it was written and directed with every intention of being an excuse to show off Disney's new-fangled array of whiz-bang special effects. Although the special effects in the original Tron look badly dated by today's standards, back then they were a revolution, with Disney ushering in the official age of computer effects and using Tron as a way to intimidate …
review by . December 21, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
   Ok, so it’s been almost a full day since I saw this movie and I’ve had to spend quite a lot of time, much more than usual, sorting out what I thought and what I wanted to write about it. The plot is pretty basic. The 1989 version of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), disappears. Twenty years later his son (Garrett Hedlund), goes looking for him. He gets sucked into the computer world where an evil program, Clu (Jeff Bridges), is masterminding a plot to take over the real world. …
review by . December 24, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
   This time last year, almost to the day, James Cameron’s Avatar was released to fantastic reviews and an accolade of awards, leaving just as many viewers saying “meh” as there were praising it as “the best movie of all time”. I’ll admit I was one of the viewers in the middle. It’s not a bad film, in fact its visual flair and ambition are the best things about it, but it’s not a film I would consider a front runner for Best Picture, an …
review by . December 17, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
      This is a very ambiguous movie if you're trying to contemplate about it too much. It may appear to be a groundbreaking science fiction but it also may look like another pale blockbuster saved only by the visual effects. I'm not one of those Tron fanboys and I will not criticize the movie just for fun but I need to say that this film lacks in substance. You don't need to see the first movie to really connect the stories because there's an intro and many references …
review by . December 20, 2010
Tron: Legacy is a slicker, sexier, and faster movie than its predecessor - which for a movie about the digital world, makes perfect sense.      I took two of my daughters with me to see it, one of whom is just a couple years older than I was when I saw the original Tron, eons ago. I remember getting lost in the idea of a world inside the computer, programs represented as individuals, digital pathways traveled like roads, and games where the stakes were more real than I had ever …
review by . December 18, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Is it wrong of me to prefer logic over spectacle? Did I miss the point when I left “Tron: Legacy” feeling it was a monumental failure as a story? If I’m to continue with this review, I must first make it clear that I don’t see the “Tron” films in the same way a lot of people do. I don’t believe they deserve praise simply for their innovative special effects; I personally require an engaging plot, character development, and the sense that it’s operating …
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Simon Lee Tranter ()
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“Tron: Legacy” is a 3D high-tech adventure set in a digital world that’s unlike anything ever captured on the big screen. Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), the tech-savvy 27-year-old son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), looks into his father’s disappearance and finds himself pulled into the same world of fierce programs and gladiatorial games where his father has been living for 25 years. Along with Kevin’s loyal confidant (Olivia Wilde), father and son embark on a life-and-death journey across a visually-stunning cyber universe that has become far more advanced and exceedingly dangerous.Poster art for "Tron: Legacy 3D"
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Details

Director: Joseph Kosinski
Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Release Date: December 17, 2010
MPAA Rating: PG
Runtime: 2 hr. 7 min
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
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