12 January 2011

TRON: Legacy

TRON: Legacy

Starring Garrett Hedlund, Jeff Bridges, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner, Michael Sheen. Written by Adam Horowitz & Edward Kitsis; Based on characters created by Steven Lisberger & Bonnie MacBird. Directed by Joseph Kosinski. Release: 17 December 2010. Disney, 127 mins., Rated PG-13

Plot: ENCOM founder Kevin Flynn has disappeared, leaving his son Sam alone on a quest to find out where his father went to, leading him to The Grid.

First, I gotta get this out of the way: Olivia Wilde is H-O-T. Daaammmnnn. Alright, moving on.

Never saw the original TRON, and I'm not going to start now. For one, Disney were idiots and took the DVD out of circulation, and secondly, TRON: LEGACY tells a pretty much complete and standalone story, where seeing the first one isn't all that necessary to our understanding of the narrative or gain the emotional connection between father and son.

Concerning the story, I think it's the perfect type of story for this film, effectively providing the emotional connection to our characters and the emotional weight of their plight. Plus, the whole Kevin Flynn vs. Clu thing was brilliant. There's that sort of religious undertone of the Maker vs. Creations, as Flynn must fight his creation Clu and all the programs under his command; and let's not forget the (SPOILERS) 'reboot' of sorts that happens at the end, very similar to the end of MATRIX REVOLUTIONS where the Matrix has been tarnished and needs to revert back to its original uncorrupted state. In The Grid, Flynn is God, fearful yet in love with his creations. So there's that bit and also the very grounded, very relatable story of a grown up son looking for his missing father. Original by any means? No, but I wasn't expecting a script with the complexity of Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio's PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN sequels. Hell, the writers even throw a surprising element in the mix with Kevin Flynn's general attitude about being saved and his ultimate decision within The Grid. So is the story flat or lacking, as the critical consensus seems to be? By my reckoning, no, but I understand where they come from. Indeed, the flashy visuals and techno music can overshadow the more subtle character moments and seemingly average script.

But that's why we got such good actors on the payroll. Jeff Bridges reprises his role from the original, even this Clu character (he was in the original, right?) in full CGI glory [at the very least, the digital de-aging looks remarkably better than Patrick Stewart's work in both X-MEN III and WOLVERINE]. Jeff Bridges is Jeff Bridges, and the best thing about this performance is that you can actually tell what he's saying this time! Sorry, but after coming out of TRUE GRIT where he mumbled and growled the majority of his dialogue, this is a welcome sound for my ears. Garrett Hedlund is completely charismatic as Bridges' son, Sam Flynn, and if there are sequels in the horizon, I'm more than happy to see him continue the saga. Cool guy. And Olivia Wilde. Well, um, she's hot. But wait - did you want to know how she did, acting-wise? Um, y'know, fine. The parts I was paying attention, at least...

Oh, and look for an out-of-nowhere appearance of Cillian Murphy (BATMAN BEGINS) for only two shots and three scenes with a balls-out-crazy Michael Sheen (FROST/NIXON), looking far more frightening that I have ever seen him before (and that's saying something).

Now, I am most likely looking far too into the logistics of the TRON world and all that jazz by thinking about the following questions, let alone asking them: 1) And this is a spoiler, but the film ends with Olivia Wilde's Quorra now in the real world after Sam brings her out of the digital world, fully clothed and looking exactly like her digital counterpart. Okay, the clothing thing I get because some time passed since Sam and her got out, but everything else I don't get. How can a program, even a ISO, even come into reality? At best, Sam could upload her signature to a USB and spend some quality time with her in the digital world, but bringing a full on digital creation into this world? Bringing Freddy Kruger into reality and out of the dream world makes more sense to me. We're talking about a fully fleshed human being here, organs and all, let alone the head-scratching idea that she looks exactly the same. 2) So Sam and Kevin are zapped into the world of TRON by a laser thingy, turning their bodies into digital data and successfully leaving no physical trace neither Kevin or Sam had ever sat down at that spot. Hmmm... OK. I can buy that, but just barely (the whole physical body not being left behind thing). 3) In the dinner scene, how can Kevin and Sam even eat? They're real-world people (as evidenced by Sam's blood in the Grid) who can't possibly find any sort of edible value in a completely digital world. It would do nothing for them. For Quorra, being a digital being, it's a buffet, but for Kevin and Flynn...I would rather think it's impossible. Or am I missing something? Cos, it's quite possible.

As far as the special effects are concerned, well, with a project such as this which has been in some stage of production for the last three years, it's rather expected the effects to be polished, no? Well, meeting our expectations, TRON: LEGACY boasts perhaps the most amazing array of special effects I have ever seen. Frak, I'm going to go so far as to say that it trumps James Cameron's AVATAR. Yes, yes, I know: blasphemy. Just the amazing amount of detail, prettiness, and painstaking effort that must have been put into it is staggering. Sure, there are goofs here and there, like when a particular character jumps into the air with their little stick thing and it transforms into a glider or bike; it's still well done, but not to the magnificent and near perfect level of everything else. Not only is the cityscape amazingly well done, but the lit-up suits and their glowing disc thingies are so bloody beautiful. Without a seconds hesitation, I would happily award the SPFX department an Oscar for their work here. Amazing, splendid stuff. Similar to Cameron's 'epic', TRON: LEGACY offers the audience the opportunity to be engulfed in a world entirely unlike our own, governed by new rules and personalities. Now that's some epically cool stuff right there.

What isn't so epically cool and worth all the praise is the 'score' by Daft Punk. I wasn't familiar with the band until this release, but hearing what the director and producers were going for, I probably would have recommended MATRIX composer Don Davis instead; after all, he could deliver all the techno beat stuff they wanted and even add a bit more originality and lack of redundancy to it. Sure, in the context of the movie, the music works fine, but taken on its own, it does seem like the same cues repeated a little too much (same with THE SOCIAL NETWORK). This is by no means a huge jab at Daft Punk. I quite enjoyed it, and it worked generally; there's simply room for improvement, but it's still some great music to blast when you're cleaning your room. Not like I do that. Cos my room is always clean. Always. Never a random item of clothing on the floor. Nopers.

TRON: LEGACY was cool. I dug it, people generally seem to dig it, so there's quite a large chance you'll dig it too.

And finally, just because (chalk it up to promotional purposes):


Anonymous said...

Hey I'm surprised you could still write a detailed review after your gushing about miss Wilde :D

Yeah, I think some of the visual effects rival that in Avatar, though Avatar probably has better rewatch value for me. I don't love this as much as you though, the dismal plot just can't match up with the glorious visuals. And I actually like Daft Punk's music here, definitely adds to the mood of the film.

Btw, off topic but just wondering if you're on the email about MN movie blogger get-together in mid Feb. Let me know if you're interested to join us, the more the merrier.

Andy the Time Lord said...

Are you saying I was gushing about miss Wilde a bit in this review? Surely not I! The key was to write the Olivia Wilde-gushing first, and then add the meaty review part.

Have you listened to the Daft Punk score isolated without the film? Coupled with the movie, it works tremendously, just when you hear it on your iTunes, you can sorta tell the redundancy. But I still dig it, especially the End Credits composition.

I did not know about this MN movie blogger get together. I'd be game, absolutely, so long as I'm able to get away from Mankato University to do so. Would it probably be weekend based?