Friday, December 17, 2010

Change the scheme! Alter the mood! Electrify the boys and girls if you'd be so kind.

Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will.

Tron has always had a special place in my heart. Despite it's extremely dated graphics (compared to today's standards at least) and it's pretty cheesy dialogue, I always enjoyed the story and the acting, especially that of Jeff Bridges. For a young gaming nerd like myself it was a dream movie. But unlike Star Wars/Trek and some of the other sci-films I loved from my youth, Tron seemed to disappear from the minds of most movie goers. If you asked them they would probably remember it, but it would take a second. Maybe it was because the impact of Tron wasn't as significant as that of Star Wars or Alien but if you ask me it was because Disney was ashamed of the movie. Why? Well in recent months there has been news about the original Tron's conversion to Blu-ray and it being done and released just in time for the second movie's release. Well Disney wasn't having any of that because it halted the films release and pushed it back to an undisclosed date "in the future." On top of that, the once easy to find Tron on DVD, became a rare find that would cost more than 100 dollars to buy from most major online retailers. And how did it become so rare? Disney stopped making copies of the film. It was fine releasing Snow White for the 5th time but not Tron? There's something wrong there.

But enough of my ranting, you came here for a reason, that reason being to hear my thoughts on the second Tron movie, Tron: Legacy. As a fanboy of the original you probably think I'm just going to give this 5 stars and gush about how great it was. But you would be wrong. While Tron: Legacy is by no means a bad film, it is far from perfect and in some ways is a letdown for those who waited all this time for a sequel.
The film's story begins a few years after the original movie. Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) escaped the grid and became CEO of ENCOM. In this time he has also pimped the hell out of Tron, releasing video games, toys, and even a movie (cough cough) detailing his adventures in the grid. He's also had a son named Sam, who's extremely fascinated by the grid and one day hopes to follow in his father's footsteps by taking over ENCOM and going into the grid himself. We come into the movie as Kevin re-tells the story of Tron to Sam, right before he leaves to go to work. Kevin leaves and is never seen or heard from again. This devastates the young Sam and despite being the major shareholder of the company, he refuses to take control of ENCOM, even sabatoging it on occasion, almost out of spite for his father's leaving.

One day, right after Sam (Garret Hedlund) gets done sabatoging the newest edition of ENCOM's software by releasing it free to the public (much to the chagrin of the executives), Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) comes to Sam and says that he got a message from his father and that he should go to the arcade and see what it's all about. It turns out to be a trap as Sam is sucked into the grid, just like his dad.

This is when the film gets it's first major fault: the plot after Sam enters the grid. At first glance it seems pretty straightforward, but the more you think about it, the more complicated it really is. The film is so pre-ocupied with it's own lore and how every little thing works, that it can become lost on even the biggest Tron fan. Unless you've read every book or played every game, you will scratch your head at some of the elements of the story. It's not a terrible story per se but there are a lot of moments that are just people explaining the world in great detail. These pad out a lot of the middle part of the grid story and become kind of a chore to watch. If not for Bridges being as great of an actor as he was, I honestly would have fallen asleep.
Since I'm on the topic, acting is a also a bit of a high and low spot for the movie. Bridges, as the mysterious creator Kevin Flynn as well as the main villain CLU 2.0 (they Zemmeckisized him to make him look 30 years old) is great in both roles, playing the malicious dictator and the zen master perfectly. Olivia Wilde is also great, although the writers seem at a bit of a loss as to what to do with her. Most of the time she is just eye candy, staring blankly into space or at Sam and Kevin. But when she does do something she is quite good and it only solidifies my feelings that she is someone who will seriously become a major acting threat in the years to come. But this is where the praise stops. Garret Hedlund as Sam is just plain boring. He's as interesting as dry wall. He delivers his lines fine but there is no umph to him. Bridges just acts circles around him almost to the point of embarrasment.

But the biggest acting blunder is Michael Sheen as Zeus/Castor. Sheen himself is a great actor and I've loved most of his work. But in his 10 or so minutes on screen, he sucks the life out of the movie almost completely and is almost painfully awkward to watch. Imagine Ziggy Stardust with the personality of Jack Sparrow, Alex from Clockwork Orange and Drop Dead Fred combined. While he does deliver one of my favorite lines in the film, almost all of his dialogue is poor attempts at humor mixed with really painful wordplay. His attempts at being clever fail epically and he really almost ruins the movie. That being said his role is short (thank God) and wasn't dragged on for too long.

My only other complaint is that the 3D is used almost exclusivly for depth and not for any real in your face kind of action. The depth is cool but to a lot of people, myself included, the 3D needed more to be significant. The visuals themself though are quite astounding and are almost breathtaking to watch. A lot of time and effort was put into making the visuals as crisp and as beautiful as possible. Colors pop, derezzes are fun to watch, aircrafts and trains look out of this world and the world itself just has a sense of epicness. Throw in one of the best soundtracks I've ever heard by the amazingly talented Daft Punk and I'm willing to forgive the 3D's lack of creativity.

It may not be the spectacular follow up I was hoping for but in the end Tron: Legacy is an enjoyable film and one that I don't regret spending money on. Will I remember it 10 years from now like I will the original? Probably not. But considering the shoes they had  to fill, I respect Disney for at least trying to bring Tron back into the limelight, even if it's only for a brief moment. Oh well...back to the grid I go.

1 comment:

  1. I remember reading an interview where Sheen said the director gave him free-rein for the role. And I think that he'll never do that again.