Friday, December 17, 2010

TRON:Legacy (2010)



Title: TRON: Legacy (2010)

Director: Joseph Kosinski

Cast: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde

Review:

TRON:Legacy was one of the most anticipated films of 2010, and most of that anticipation comes from the fact that this film is a sequel to Walt Disney’s groundbreaking science fiction film TRON (1982). Like many people, I don’t think that the original film is anything amazing in terms of storytelling or action adventure (actually me thinks the film is kind of slow) but it did offer up some interesting visuals. Hell, it was also one of the first films to ever use computer animation, along with Disney’s The Black Hole (1979). Computer animation has grown by leaps and bounds since 1982, so this new TRON flick has the task of improving the effects we saw on the original film and if it attempts to be as ground breaking film as its predecessor, then it will try and take computer effects to a whole new level. Did this new film achieve its goals?


TRON: Legacy tells the story of Sam Flynn, son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) the creator of one of the most successful games ever, TRON. Sam, his son has always lived his life plagued by the fact that one day his father said “see you later”, got on his motorcycle and then disappeared from the face of the earth. If you saw the first TRON then you know that Kevin Flynn disappeared because he inserted himself into the TRON program and then was unable to escape. The computer program where Kevin inserts himself into, know as “The Grid” in the film, is a Matrix of sorts where a whole different society exists. It basically is a mirror image of earth. One night, Sam decides to fool around with his fathers old computers and accidently transports himself in The Grid, same as his father all those years ago. Now he must try and adapt and survive in this new world that is apparently being run by a despotic ruler named CLU. Will Sam ever reconnect with his father?


The thing about this new movie is that it’s not the end all be all that a lot of people are expecting. First off, let me warn you guys about the supposed 3-D. It’s yet another scam. It’s not 3-D at all, and that my friends pissed me the hell off. It pulled a Clash of the Titans (2010) on us! I felt cheated, there was no need to “convert” this movie to 3-D because the effect simply does not work. The movie had amazing visuals, but they weren’t 3-D. You’ll enjoy this one just fine without having to pay the extra cash, so do yourself a favor and see this one 2-D. I’m sick and tired of studios doing this to the audience, cheating them out of their hard earned cash. No doubt many people will go see it expecting to see some mind blowing 3-D, and I don’t blame them since Disney has hyped the 3-D angle in all the previews. Sadly, audiences will be disappointed, same as I was. Hell, even Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010) had better 3-D effects then this new TRON movie. I blame Disney for hiping this one as the end all be all of 3-D films, when in fact it was anything but that! You just know something is fishy when the film starts out with a disclaimer letting you know that this film was originally intended to be seen in 2-D and not on 3-D.


Aside from that, we have the script which was extremely similar to other films. First of all the movie is kind of, sort of a remake. This movie pulls an Evil Dead 2 on us by offering a bigger budgeted, slightly altered  yet extremely similar version of the original film. It is a sequel because they do reference events from the first film, but when you look at it, the film plays out exactly the same way the original one did. Person gets sent to “the grid”, person gets a new suit, has to participate in some games and win, and then he must travel to a portal where he will finally face off the evil despotic leader. When you look at it, it’s the first film step by step. We have the disk fight, we have the motorcycle race, they even travel on a ship that travels on a beam of light. It was too similar. On top of that, the film has elements from The Dark Knight and The Matrix, right down to having Sam Flynn be the heir to a big company and not wanting to accept responsibility and having to reprogram everyone so they wont continue being slaves to the system and all that. I did like the films themes, I mean, I’m a sucker for a film where the good guys go up against an evil ruler, but even I must admit that that’s been done to death.


It does play with some original themes. Like for example Clu, the films villain is amassing a private army! That’s a sign of an evil ruler if there ever was one! So when Clu learns that the media (run by a guy named Zuse) will be allowing some rebels to get their word out about starting a revolution, Clu decides to wipe out the entertainment mogul. I thought this was an interesting way of talking about the control of the media by governments who want to control the publics opinion. Governments know the power that media and entertainment has. Films are censored because the powers that be know how powerful films are in terms of getting ideas through to people. So I enjoyed how the film commented on the power of the media over peoples opinion. 


Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn comes off as a futuristic version of ‘El Duderino’ from The Big Lebowski (1998). On Tron, Flynn represents the hippies from the 60’s and 70’s who were a hell of a lot more rebellious then the kids nowadays. In a way, the film is telling the younger generation to stand up against the evil, to speak up, to change things. It’s telling them not to stay comfortable at home playing video games and watching movies, go out there and give a damn about what’s going on in the world or the bad guys are going to win. So what we got here ladies and gentlemen is a subversive film from the folks at Disney. Actually, Disney has been making a lot of these types of films recently, which just points at one thing: art is reflecting life. 


One thing the film does get extremely right are its visual effects which as expected, were good. Technically speaking, the film is great. The colors, the cgi, and just the look of the film were entertaining and beautiful to look at. Everything is slick looking and futuristic, the colors are awesome. The red is the bad guys, the blue the good guys. But on thing did let me down about the special effects. I didn’t like how the CLU character looked. He is supposed to look like a younger version of Jeff Bridges, but in my opinion it just didn’t work. I mean, the performance looks stiff somehow. I thought they would be breaking new ground with that effect, but it turned out to be another stiff performance from a CGI character. I guess this movie proves once and for all that real actors will never be replaced by CGI characters, no way no how!


Another thing they got right was the music, by Daft Punk. I’m a huge fan of Daft Punk and have been enjoying their futuristic beats and sounds for years. They even cameo in the movie at one point during a sequence that takes place inside of a disco. Their music sounds so robotic, it fits perfectly in the world of TRON. This is without a doubt a soundtrack to keep.  

Daft Punk make a cameo

So my friends, what we got here is a decent sequel, a film that's extremely subversive in nature. It pays homage to the original while injecting things with new updated ideas. It's like watching the first film with modern effects. It's extremely anti-system all the way. It's against governments that want to control every single little aspect of our lives. It's a film that is firmly about fighting for our freedom to exist in this world. It's stylish to the max with visuals that are a delight to the eyes. TRON: Legacy was obviously designed to perfection by talented individuals; looking forward to other films from Kosinski. 

Rating: 4 out of 5
 

Tron (20th Anniversary Collector's Edition)TronTRON: Evolution

10 comments:

J.D. said...

Nice review. I think I liked this film a little more than you did but then again, I am a HUGE fan of the original so there's that. I really can't argue any of your problems with the film because it's true but I guess they don't bother me so much because the film was such an immersive, visual feast for the senses. That being said, I do need to correct on thing you said. The film was NOT converted to 3D a la CLASH OF THE TITANS but was actually shot with 3D cameras... in fact, the same ones that were used to shoot AVATAR. However, not the entire film is shot in 3D. The opening bit in the "real world" was shot in 2D which is actually fitting as you'd want to pull out the snazzy 3D effects for when we get to cyberspace for that extra "wow" factor.

As for the 3D itself, I will admit that this is the first modern 3D film I've seen so I really don't have any other film to compare it to but I thought the effects were pretty cool. I mean, you don't want to have 'em be too in your face or they'll distract from the rest of the film. Er, of course, in the case of this one maybe that would've been a good thing as the dialogue was pretty ho-hum (except for Jeff Bridges' occasional Dudeisms) and the characterization non-existent.

I also think that you might've been a little harsh on Daft Punk's score - of which they did all of it. If anything, good chunks of it were reminiscent of early '80s John Carpenter and I swear there was a couple bits that sounded like something right out of ESCAPE FROM NY. Weird.

I do agree with your final assessment, though. I would say a good, not great film.

Jaccstev said...

Completely agree with your review, the visual is really something but the storyline is somewhat not.

Carl Manes said...

I havent seen the original, and honestly Im not the least bit interested in this one. I dont know why, TRON just never appealed to me.

The Film Connoisseur said...

@J.D.: I made a day out of seeing TRON: Legacy, I mean, I was really looking forward to it,and for the most part I enjoyed it a whole lot. The visuals really have their moment to shine, gotta give the movie that!

As far as the 3D, I have seen way better 3D effects in other films, I didnt really get the "effect". It was filmed with 3D camaras yet the effect didnt really pull through for me, I am gonna be seeing it again soon, so maybe I'll think differently then, but my first impression was this one.

I've been seeing the original ever since I was a kid, it was the kind of movie I loved watching to wow myself with the effects, and I have to say, the visuals from the original still have their charm.

Dude I thought I was praising DAFT PUNK!! I love those guys! And I loved the music on this one, agree about the John Carpenter sounding parts. I simply mentioned that I found it similar to the one for the DARK KNIGHT, which is true, you gotta admit it!

@CArl: It's interesting visually man, if you want to see a movie that will dazzle your eyes, but not your brain, then this is the one! Its not a bad film at all, just not mind blowing thematically speaking, or plot wise. I wish they would have taken things on a different route, the film is too similar to the original.

Thanks to everyone for commenting!

J.D. said...

Film Connoisseur:

I just listened to a few tracks on iTunes and you are right! There is definitely some DARK KNIGHT-type vibes there. Good call. But I certainly can sympathize with you re: expectations based on the original film. I still love the visuals from that one no matter how "quaint" or outdated they may seem to others.

The Film Connoisseur said...

But you know what J.D., I thought the soundtrack was freaking awesome, aside from the Dark Knight similarities, I think its a very techno sounding thing, coming from Daft Punk, that makes perfect sense.

I hear the TRON: LEGACY soundtrack (which I purchased over the weekend!) and I just think about freaking robots and machines....I LOVE IT!

As for the visuals of the original, they were groundbreaking for their time, and I totally agree with you, they still razzle dazzle in my book.

HorrO said...

First, I have to say it is always interesting reading your take on movies because you always seem to find the message about our society or government in them. As far as the movie, I wasn't blown away by it either, but I liked it. I didn't have any big issues with it other than there being a stretch of the movie where it got a little boring. I wish I remembered more about the original to compare, but I think you are right that they pretty much used the same formula as the original. The effects and visuals were great, which it probably the biggest reason I saw the movie besides wanting to relive Tron again. I was a little disappointed with the ending because they left it open for another movie. While I was excited for this movie, I don't feel a need to make sequels until it ruins the Tron franchise.

And now a comment about 3D. The 3D is a rip off in this movie. It was nowhere to be found. I can't believe Disney would do that. I saw it in IMAX, which made it look amazing. What is also sad is all the previews to movies that are going to be in 3D as well. I want to see Pirates and Thor, but don't feel a need to see them in 3D. I have been a supporter of 3D, but am starting to be annoyed by it. Either do the 3D right or not at all. All these movies have 3D not to have objects appear to fly out at you, but to make the picture better. That is a rip off. If I watch 3D, I want stuff flying at me. If I want a good picture, I will stay home and watch a movie on HD. You are right, Resident Evil was good in 3D, probably the best I have seen yet. Saw 3D was terrible. It made everything fake. Also, animated movies seem to get 3D right. I don't know, I guess it is hard to pay extra at the theater and get little in return. On a side note, IMAX is a great picture. I will be seeing Transformers on IMAX for sure. Sorry for rambling on!

The Film Connoisseur said...

Hey Horro, I dont mind long comments, actually, I encourage them! So dont worry about rambling on about movies, thats what we are here for, to talk movies!

Glad you like the way I write, I always see movies as a mirror of society, so thats why if I find a theme in the film that speaks about who we are as a society, I write about it. You know what they say: "Art immitates life"

Glad I wasnt the only one who found the movie a bit boring at a certain moment!

Totally agree with you in regards to the 3-D , if its not done well, then dont do it at all. I saw SAW 7 on 3-D, it was fun to see the kills on 3-D, but the rest of the story felt so formulaic. They are certainly stretching it too far a lready, it feels as if the stroy is being drawn out simply to cash in on the popularity of the movies, not because the stroy needs to be told.

Agree about 3-D translating well to animated features. Megamind was a trip on 3-D!

I have noticed that the "in your face" element that were supposed to get from a 3-D film isnt what we get in a lot of these 3-D films, its more about depth of image, then the in your face thing. I prefer seeing things being hurled at me, I wanna see things popping out of the screen! I didnt really get that from TRON: LEGACY. Still the images were strong enough on their own, which was great.

Thanks for commenting!

HorrO said...

I'm glad to see we are on the same page with the 3D. I too prefer stuff flying off the screen at me. It is a fun experience and keeps your attention when done right. A lot of these movies just use 3D to make a better image are ripping off people. The picture is good enough. I saw nothing fly out at me in Tron, and that whole warning before the movie started was weird. It looked as if they were covering their ass if people complained. I feel no need to see Pirates, or Thor in 3D. Megamind was cool in 3D. I have no problem watching animated 3D movies. Thanks for letting me ramble!

Happy holidays!

BRENT said...

Style over substance...your comment sums it up in one for me. Great looking movie but absolutely hollow as far as script or premise goes. Tron bored me senseless and I was grateful when it ended so I could go home!!!

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