Dec 18, 2010

MOVIES: Tron: Legacy

I guess I should start this by admitting that I have either never watched the original Tron, or I have completely forgotten if I have. Of course, I am aware of the story, but I have absolutely no memory of the actual movie. That said, Tron: Legacy's trailers were surprisingly stylish for a Disney movie, and my interest was piqued. Still, I had my guard up, considering the studio behind the project and the abominably low quality of movies throughout 2010, but hope never dies.

So I am happy to say that Tron: Legacy is the SF action-adventure of the year. That's easy with no competition, of course, but even so, the movie just delivers. It is fast-paced, exceptionally well shot, and surprisingly manages to be actually more stylish than the trailers suggested.

The story is supposed to be a "next generation" type of sequel to the original movie. After helping Tron defeat Sark in the virtual world, programmer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) created an avatar of himself - Clu - to help him and Tron turn the new reality into a perfect utopia. However, one night he just vanished off the face of the Earth, leaving his boy Sam (Garrett Hedlund) alone. Twenty years later Sam is playing the angry millionaire by pulling pranks on the board of directors of his father's company Encom which has - in his absence - turned into a soulless money-factory.

Then something changes. Flynn's oldest friend Alan (Bruce Boxleitner) receives a beep on his pager from the old arcade - a number that has been disconnected since Kevin's disappearance. Sam goes there to check what's going on, only to be transported into the virtual world that claimed his father. A world that has changed a lot since the time Flynn elder and his two program friends set off to build their utopia.

Tron: Legacy does not use its premise to try and create philosophical layers to the story. The hot topic of what's real and what's not is nowhere to be seen, and frankly - I am happy for that. It gives the movie a chance to deliver what it really wants - adventure. From the very beginning the pace is fast, the atmosphere tense. Yet Tron doesn't choke you with speed and instead opts for balance, by alternating action scenes with short moments of peaceful character building. And yes, there is character building - surprisingly well made for a Disney adventure movie, at least where the tho main characters are concerned.

However, it is the game world that really matters in this one, and it looks positively fantastic. The movie uses very few colors - mostly blue-black, neon blue and dark orange - and the visual style, as seen on the trailers, works wonderfully with the story's concept. The environmental and vehicle designs are gorgeous, and the action scenes allow for clear view of every aspect. Tron doesn't try to hide behind chaotic action, mostly - I suspect - because its budget was big enough to afford to show every detail all the time. The Grid battles - both with the discs and the bikes - look amazing, and the final aerial sequence is just beautiful! There is no action scene in this movie that isn't truly top-notch.

Acting is not terribly important in a story of this sort, but thankfully, Tron: Legacy has found the balance of looks and talent. Jeff Bridges provides the talent, and Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde (in the role of Support Warrior Female And Potential Love Interest or Quora) account for the looks without being horrible enough to bother you. Situation with Jeff Bridges' evil alter ego Clu is a bit more embarrassing, first of all because the CG "young Jeff" face looks really fake (kind of like those lazy-eyed scarecrows from the early Robert Zemeckis CG movies), but also because the character is so thinly written that most of the stuff he says sounds vaguely ridiculous. Of course, being a program with a set of parameters, that is sort of understandable, but it still bugged me. The brilliant Michael Sheen also makes a great cameo, but outside of the two male leads, characterization is generally shallow.

One thing that the movie really walks on thin ice about is the atmosphere. It is visually stunning, and the Daft Punk-empowered soundtrack completes the picture, BUT that leads to Tron taking itself a tad too seriously. It is not something that would bother everyone, and for some reason it didn't bother me, but I am sure the movie will look just a little bit too pretentious to a lot of people.

The other part where Tron: Legacy stumbles, is the pacing. Although well executed most of the time, there is a scene toward the end where everything just grinds to a halt. It is not enough to ruin the movie, but it definitely derails the train (pun intended - you'll know when you watch it) for a while. The final action sequence also lacks epicness, especially in comparison to what happens in the earlier parts of the movie. Another little beef I have with the story is that humor isn't really a big part of it. Like I said, Tron takes itself very seriously, and even though jokes do happen, they aren't really a big part of it, and I suspect the movie would have been better if they were more present.

However, none of those problems is enough to prevent you from enjoying the experience. Tron: Legacy is great entertainment and almost perfectly executed for what it is trying to be - a fun action-adventure set in a fantastic world. Personally, I can't wait to see it again!


1 comment:

  1. You should take care to watch the original Trone movie. It has the exact colour aestetics and it it's stil actual today.

    sorry for the bad english