Friday, December 17, 2010

Tron: Legacy (2010)

Visually dazzling, yet somewhat contrived sequel to the 1982 classic, this time focused on Kevin Flynn's son, who enters "The Grid" in search of his long-lost father. First things first: the kid sucks. The idea of replacing Jeff Bridge's Flynn with a hot, young, blonde counterpart for modern audiences is immediately misguided, and shows how willing the film is to sacrifice fidelity and integrity for appeal to young audiences; not quite to Episode 1 lengths, but still offensively. Another aspect of the film that completely falls flat is a greater symptom than just the lead: it doesn't feel like a computer world anymore. Everyone has really expressive, vibrant emotions, there is loud, emotive techno music blaring, and the games, rather than being programmed into the system, are actually there for ENTERTAINMENT, with droves of screaming fan programs elated at watching fellow "rogue" programs be "derezzed" in the gladiatorial trials they are forced into. Olivia Wilde's Quorra character, while not only being far too spritely and animated while, simultaneously, being massively turned on by the arrival of Flynn's studly son, turns out to be from an ancient race of indigenous digital beings (spoiler alert! seriously, I just did you a favor, now you won't laugh out loud in a theater full of kids or fanboys or both), completely disregarding the construct-oriented nature of the world of Tron.


Much of the film kind of rocks the house. Like an above-average anime, the dynamic, obviously expensive visuals prove to be so spellbinding, that there are huge chunks of the film where all the flaws of the plot magically disappear, and the visual elements of Tron that have been upgraded take over in a liquid-digital cloud of sensory bliss. The games themselves, while rendered completely nonsensical in this version, are exciting, fresh, and well-orchestrated; no shaky-cams or blurry digital rendering here. There is a club scene with Michael Sheen that takes the new, techno-oriented mindset of this Tron to the umpteenth level, with blaring music, dance-like fight choreography, and Sheen dancing around, reveling in the freedom of this untethered digital landscape. I figure if they were going to make this film about THIS Tron, and not the cold, calculating, emotion-devoid version of Tron from the original, they should've gone all the way and made it an absurdly sensational audio-visual experience, like Sheen's scene proves to be. I should also mention that not only does Daft Punk make a cameo in that scene, but they provided the soundtrack for the whole film; their contribution to the film cannot be expressed enough. Where Harold Faltermeyer's Cop Out score made a boring cash grab into a watchable film, Daft's Tron:Legacy score makes what is, essentially, a feature-length effects real into an emotional, immersive experience; their Tron Theme contains more feeling and power than any individual on-screen moment in the film. The action scenes are such a perfect marriage of sight and sound that they do end up making the film noteworthy, and completely worthy of merit, money, and attention. There should be more movies like this (and less like Avatar THERE I SAID IT!!), just made with more confidence and less concern with the affections of children (*cough* The Matrix *cough* *cough*).

Recommended to fans of high-octane, techno-oriented visuals, Daft Punk, or, to a lesser extent, the original Tron; it's a completely remade, reimagined version of the world, but there are enough bones thrown to fanboys that you can tell the filmmakers (including Steven Lisberger, who produced this one and directed the original) were fully aware of how important a 26-year-later sequel to Tron was in certain circles...but they were also aware, and wary, of how small those intimate, geek-driven circles actually were, which is a shame.

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