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TRON Legacy - Wasting My Money So You Don't Have To

Posted by Ozzallos Tuesday January 4 2011 at 6:35PM
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Wasting My Money So You Don't Have To: TRON Legacy


Tron. Now that's a hallowed word, my friend. It's a word that almost belongs in the bedrock of scifi itself; revolutionary in a day when the internet was still a Department of Defense managed entity unknown to the masses of the world. It was an imagined landscape of digital reality when few such templates actually existed and technology could barely keep up with the demands of Hollywood.

Taken in 20/20 hindsight, the movie seems almost corny in retrospect, but only because its screenwriters were producing a movie on the very frontiers of fiction along side other classics such as Blade Runner with no idea of what the future held two decades hence. The acting dialog adapted to describe TRON's digital world seems hokey today and the plot itself is quintessential of Disney's wholesome work in the 80s. When coupled with the the admittedly bland CG and compared to movies like Avatar, TRON arguably hasn't exactly aged gracefully.

And even so, it's a classic; the yardstick by which to compare its sequel: TRON Legacy.

Well, ladies and gents, I'm here to tell you there is no comparison. Realistically, this should have been a slam dunk-- Tron Legacy had an entire world to build upon and the CG to back it up. The premise was actually an interesting one: Son and disillusioned corporate heir Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) finds out that not only is there the possibility that his MIA father Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is alive, but trapped inside the very virtual world he helped to create. Sam is drawn into the world of TRON during his investigation and cue plot.

Yes, this should have been an easy execution given the material at Disney's fingertips, but reality tends to take days off when Hollywood dollars are concerned. Where the original was the ground breaking in it's interpretation of a digital universe, Tron Legacy is merely content to ride on the heels of the other Hollywood products around it while paying only a passing nod to the source. Sure, there's the wholesale plot dump that details what happened in the intervening years that it took Flynn's kid to grow up, but there is little beyond that. Instead the movie defers to other films, notably The Matrix and Blade Runner to keep it moving. You don't get to see recognizers stomp Tron tanks. Light cycles make their appearance for exactly one scene, and gone are the 90' degree movements they make, companion bits, and other notable landmarks that one would expect to see more- or more of -in a sequel twenty years in the waiting.

First, let's get this out of the way... The movie is pretty and today's modern CG is put to use. The soundtrack courtesy of Daft Punk is likewise epic and in keeping with the digital mood. When the movie decides to pay attention to an element of vintage TRON cinema, it usually does a competent job at it. I was also surprised, finding myself liking the interaction between Sam and his father. Both played their two decade estrangement perfectly. Even CLU (also digitally de-aged Jeff Bridges) made for an acceptable- if fairly generic -villain.

In short, there are things to like about this movie. It's just too bade it's mired in an equal if not greater amount of Hollywood 'me-too!' kludge.

The first thing the aspiring ticket holder is likely to notice is that the world of Tron is dark. Very dark. Unnecessarily dark, though one can chalk that up to stylistic preference if they so chose. The problem with that dark is that it was purposely forced into the mood of the movie as well, tainting everything from the action to irrelevant debauchery of the cantina scene where one has to ask... Why? Why are these programs fornicating, drinking and even dancing as if they walked into a bar from blade runner or were dancing the rave in the middle of Zion? Why is The Riddler from Batman lore a goddamn go-to person in said bar? Viewers of the original will remember that TRON is none of this, nor does the plot bother to explain how this well-spring of hedonistic behavior came into being... And isn't that what the ISO beings were supposed to represent before their extermination anyway?

Okay, I'd chalk this up to nit-picking if it were the only plot fail involved, but speaking of ISO's, apparently a life or death battle to get the old man out alive wasn't enough. Producers felt it necessary to shoehorn in a contrived story about new digital life forms, a love interest w/said life form and potential for world wide digital invasion led by CLU into the plot along side the death of Kevin Flynn. Oh yeah, not just an invasion of networks world wide, but a real life invasion consisting of thousands of digital soldiers that will some how come out the other end of Flynn's digital lazer as real people to try and take over the world, Pinky.

Okay, so I can take the data disks becoming Frisbee rings. I can take magic wands that will become anything you ask them to be, up to and including virtual jet aircraft (and hey, didn't the disks do that in the last movie?) "Mister Potter! This wand is 10 1/2 firm, made of torrent source code and megahertz. Give it a good flick now."

I'm sorry, though. I have to draw the line at Eric Flynn's sudden 70s hipster flash backs; as if that was actually his character in the original movie. It hurts. It hurts A LOT to see the source material butchered in this manner. Even the original vinatage costumes were more detailed than the black wetsuits they wore in this movie, as if the producers couldn't be bothered to instill a modicum of quality into their creation. There's emo black styling and then there's lazy. Legacy is frimly in the latter.

Tron Legacy is a movie that would benefit from not only a healthy amount of moderation, but staying true to its roots. In the end, it's a watchable rental that is content to fall lockstep in with the more modern (and better) cinema. Sadly, that cinema is less the movie that spawned the franchise. Honestly, you'd be better off picking up a copy of the game Tron 2.0: Killer App for a more authentic rendering of the franchise, and better sequel material to boot.

Verdict: Redbox it.

otomage writes:

I have to agree with you on principle. Compairing it to the first movie, there is no contest. And that's the way it should be for those who saw the first movie and knew how game-changing it was.

Too bad I didn't, I guess, because I missed that revolution of cinematography, that 'virtual jazz, man' that TRON's CGI was able to make. I didn't compair, and I knew it was fruitless to do so either way, because I'd end up dissapointed.

However, TRON:Legacy did three things for me that I truely  enjoyed from a movie critic and gamer perspective(and saved the movie for me):

1. The 3D versions were NOT gimmics. I saw all three versions of the film: IMAX 3D, True 3D, and 40mm 2D, and the 3D versions were actually extremely well done. The added depth was both noticable and well recievied- I was happy to say that the production team did it right, and it was worth the extra bucks.

2. It brought back the awe of 'the retro.' When the camera panned over the stadium, I couldn't help but remember stepping into an arcade as a kid for the first time. I wasn't lucky enough to have space invader cabinates, but the feeling persists- walking into this neon, blacklit area with the control consoles for these classic games at chin level... the CGI and artstyle made me remember those first steps into this world and community. The visuals were extremely well done throughout, from the club scene, to off-grid, to the games stadium, to the flying scene, and the visiuals all together were seamless and incredibly well done.

3. The soundtrack was incredible. Daft Punk is already an accomplished group, but this put them on a whole new level to me. I stayed through the entire credits and just listened. It was worth it. The closest scores I can think of to describe how awesome and unexpected it was would be the Sherlock Holmes soundtrack. Derezzed is only one song, and the rest are equal, if not better, in quality. And I'm a Metal Head!


But in conclusion, those three things- Non-Gimmiky 3D, a soundtrack worth listening too that adds to the experience, and bringing back that awe of the oldies, make me reccomend this movie for actually watching. There's not much that's truely good out anymore, but this falls into the 'watch' catagory for me.


Wed Jan 05 2011 1:17AM Report
Ozzallos writes: No apology necessary. in fact, I agree with most of your points. The CG was good, the sound track worthy of buying on its own and I even found myself liking the first quarter of the movie- that being the parts not in the Tron world. Even as its own movie, it's not absolutely horribly, just dirivitive and borrowing excessively from the contemporary cinema around it. Again, there are worse sins in Hollywood, but as a sequel to a franchise 20 years in waiting, legacy falls down IMO. Wed Jan 05 2011 8:42AM Report
Claudel writes:

Tron legacy owned at least 20 top movies of 2010, but still i believe ages ago they could do better movies then nowadays, even tho we have better technology to work with, some still can't do much even now and it's sad

Wed Jan 05 2011 10:38AM Report
Fawarendan writes:

Go to the theaters just for the uber awesome soundtrack. Oh, and don't forget to bring light sticks.

Fri Jan 07 2011 12:57AM Report
alakram writes:

Such a pity.

Fri Jan 07 2011 6:14AM Report
Thalarius writes:

Movie was terrible, went to the movie house to see it. After first 15 minutes myself and around 90% of the people there got up and walked out.  Management was nice enough to give us full refunds after a few lawyers had a chat with them.  Next day I heard that the movie house pulled Tron and will no longer have showings of it. 

Fri Jan 07 2011 9:33AM Report
zahir123 writes:

Why terrible the story was pretty good, acting was good, effects were good, CG animation was awesome.

I prefer tron legacy kind of movie to Avatar and other dumb movies made for mentally challenged that still liked "pocahontas in 3D".

Tron legacy does deliver just its not for the older crowd that lost the flexibility to like new things.

Fri Jan 07 2011 11:38AM Report
sfly2000 writes:

I saw Tron in 3D at a movie theatre and had a very enjoying experience. Haven't been watching much 3D so this was kind of an eye-opener. Difnately gonna watch more 3D.

Back to the movie...even though there wasn't really that much 3D in this one it is a very pretty movie and very well executed.

A must see if you are even remotely into gaming.

Mon Feb 07 2011 8:00AM Report
bakagami writes:

I agree, I remember going to the theater with 2 of my friends to watch the original.  afterwards we went back to the ticket counter & watched it a second time.  true, it hasnt aged well but I still enjoy it when I see it.  I played Tron 2.0 a few times as well, it was a fun game.

I lament most of the same things you did, the "strictly for fanservice" lightcycle scene. the abscence of most of the elements of the original but what I missed most in Legacy is what both Tron & Tron 2.0 were all about - fun.  Legacy is no fun at all, its dark & dry & takes itself seriously, and expects us to as well.

good review btw

Thu Jul 14 2011 9:19PM Report writes:
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