Monday, January 3, 2011

Tron: Legacy

Having never seen Disney's "Tron" in 1982 (partly due to the fact I was born in 83'), I didn't have any memorable response to the Tron Legacy teaser I saw back in 2008 (was it 08? I don't remember). I recognized the Light Cycles, like most, and I'd seen the arcade game before, but outside of that, my knowledge of the franchise was slim to nothing. I did note that the special effects in the trailer were pretty awesome, and that alone peeked my interest, if anything. Now cut to November 2010 and I'm actually really looking forward to the film, having seen full trailers with even slicker effects that the teaser. It looked darker, more serious than what I had thought the original probably was. All I really knew was that it was Disney and it was based on video games, so I just assumed it was typical cyber-campiness for kids.

Now I can't just go see a sequel without seeing the original... However to my dismay, Disney (being the fascists that they are) pulled ALL of the original copies off the shelves. So now it's impossible to find a copy unless you're willing to give Amazon $140 dollars. I don't even think it's in the infamous "Vault". It's just nowhere to be seen, and I haven't heard anything official from Disney explaining it. So I shell out 60 bucks to get a copy of the 20th Anniversary Addition off of and PRAY I don't get ripped off by some random schmuck in Milwaukee. I was a lucky man. 3 weeks later I finally obtain my copy of Tron and now I'm ready to watch it and run to the theater for some sequel action... Sadly I didn't get around to watching the original until after I saw the new one. C'est la vie. What I will say is that it was cool watching the original AFTER the new one and learning some of the back-story and even a few inside jokes that most people won't get.

But I'm getting sidetracked. Tron Legacy. For the sake of people who like to be rational and see film as an SAT rather than something fun, what I'll say is that TRON Legacy won't go down in history as anything ground-breaking or extraordinary. And for what it's worth, that's okay in my book. So going into this film, put your intellect aside and don't expect Citizen Kane.

That being said, I've seen this movie twice now and I'm aching for a third viewing. If I can sum this film up in one word, it'd simply be "BEAUTIFUL". You literally cannot take your eyes off of this movie for a second. I don't know if it was the 3D, or if it was the bright lights, or if it was Olivia Wilde (probably the third option), but it was absolutely breathtaking how gorgeous and sleek this visual treat really was. Personally, I think 3D needs to just go away. I loved Avatar. That was a movie that demanded a third dimension, and it worked because 3D fims never pushed the bar like that... However, nowadays these idiot film makers think that slapping an extra dimension on their movie will make it a good film. Really all it ends up accomplishing is giving me a major headache and a serious case of vertigo. But I digress... Tron. Legacy. It used 3D to its advantage. What you won't find in this film is excuses for using that particular media. 3D was meant to compliment the already captivating visual environment they created. You don't get things flying at you (though there was one scene that made me jump out of my seat) or a bunch of 1st person perspectives to make you feel like you're there... You get actual dimension. It makes you feel like this isn't the real world, this is something different. Which is what Tron is all about. The digital world, a place outside the real world. What I also found interesting was how the real world was in 2D and the digital world was in 3D... We live in a three dimensional reality and video games are a two dimensional format... So it's a little ironic in that regard.

So outside of dazzling visuals, what else are you getting? Typically in a movie like this you get loads of action, fast paced, shaky cameras, a chase scene every 10 minutes, and a heroic one-liner for every dead henchmen. What was interesting about this film was that it didn't hype up the action, nor did it rely on the action to drive the plot. What I've heard some say is that it's actually a little slow in some parts. The fight scenes weren't terribly cliche... Though we did get one unnecessary forced bullet-time evasive maneuver... Can we please stop doing this, filmmakers? Please? The only real action check-listed item was that EVERYTHING explodes in the digital world. EVERYTHING. Programs are among the most frail humanoids every created. You crash your car, you explode into pixels, someone throws a Frisbee at you, you explode into pixels, you fall over or trip, you explode into pixels, you get shot in the arm, explode into pixels. I think in the next Tron movie they should have a Thumb-War competition and on a three-count, you explode into pixels. I'm serious, don't even play "Patty Cake" with these people.

Now, for all the people saying that Tron Legacy didn't live up to the original Tron's potential... Please shut up. Having now watched the original Tron, I can say with the utmost confidence that ANYTHING this movie did would have been an improvement over the original. Bad acting, simple plot, stupid costumes and an end sequence that still makes absolutely no sense to me... Jeff Bridges (sorry, Kevin Flynn) jumped into the antagonist program's head and Tron threw a disc at it. Then Flynn ended up back in the real world with little to no explanation. Not to mention he totally makes out with Tron's digital girlfriend for no reason before jumping off a ship. Very random. Very weird. Very 80s. So yes, the original was ground-breaking, no one had ever seen CGI like that before, but in retrospect, this came out after Star Wars and Star Wars to this day still looks believable. So get over your nostalgia already. Not to mention... were they wearing hockey pads in the original? Someone said the new one has too many plot holes as well... I'm fairly certain the original didn't even EXPLAIN how that laser was able to zap Flynn onto the Grid in the first place. I'm just going to go ahead and say it had something to do with The Matrix.

Speaking of the Matrix, I am curious now how Neo would fair against the digital godlike powers of the Big Lebowski himself... Seriously, somebody make that movie.

I've got to talk about the soundtrack... Daft Punk took a really good movie and made it great. If this film isn't remembered for its plot, visuals or acting, it's definitely going down as one of the coolest soundtracks ever. Period. I ran out and bought that soundtrack immediately after seeing the movie and even now when I listen to it, I can piece together the whole film in my mind audibly. They didn't cheap out and use a bunch of forgettable orchestral pieces, they went all out 80's retro, cyber-punk epic on this one and it was GLORIOUS. It's a two hour long music video.

So I suppose I should mention a Con or two to all these Pros... While the CG was pretty flawless, I think it owed a lot to the fact that we're not being led to believe the Grid is anything in the real world, so it didn't have to look realistic, it just had to look cool. The places where the CGI needed to look believable were a little bit lacking. Kevin Flynn's younger face is what comes to mind. Because Jeff Bridges is obviously too old to portray himself 28 years ago, they had to resort to computer graphics to re-create the young Flynn. While there were parts where it looked real, the majority of the time, it was obviously faked. And I really can't hate on this too much, it's not exactly a science we have perfected... Creating a CGI face is borderline impossible, although "Benjamin Button" did it really well. So when young Flynn (or C.L.U. 2) was talking, you could tell it was off just a little. Something with the lips didn't look right... But still, a pretty ambitious and effort nonetheless. Nothing terrible there.

I also think the movie skipped over some potential action sequences towards the end for the sake of time... Sam Flynn, who clearly is not an action hero, somehow walks into a room of guards and walks out a minute later having killed them all... HOW DID HE DO THAT?! Prior to this, he basically got his butt kicked by every guard that crossed his path. I'd want to see that fight. Even if it was a series of dumb-luck flukes, SHOW ME ALREADY!!!

Outside of this, I really don't have much else to critique... Maybe it just needs time to sink in, so I can get over my bewilderment some and think a little more rationally. I really just loved the heck out of this movie.

So what's left to say of Tron Legacy? I think it gave some depth to a franchise which really didn't have a whole lot to go with. The characters were likable, the acting was decent, the plot, while not too involved, was enough to keep the movie flowing, and like I've already said 100 times, it was beautifully designed. Assuming they have a larger budget next time, I'm excited to see what form The Grid will take on in a sequel.

Aight. That's all.

End of Line.
~ Mark


  1. that was so long, baby!

    also, i hate you (Olivia Wilde).

  2. lol, why did you hyper-link Citizen Kane?

  3. You just don't get it man. The original Tron was the Matrix... on acid.