Saturday, 8 January 2011

Tron: Legacy… The Good, The Bad and the WTF by Melissa Bradley



Melissa Bradley, author of Maxie Briscoe: Werewolf, Encore Performances and Michael's Keeper, brings you todays guest post with a review of Box Office Hit Tron: Legacy - a movie following the son of a virtual world designer who goes looking for his father and ends up inside the digital world that his father designed.


Director: Joseph Kosinski
Writers:  Edward Kitsis (screenplay), Adam Horowitz (screenplay),
Stars:        Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde





The Story....

If you haven’t Googled the original Tron, let me refresh your memory to set up the experience. Twenty-eight years ago, free-wheeling computer wunderkind Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) took us to the world of the Grid, a place he discovered when he attempted to find evidence that someone at his former company, ENCOM, had stolen his work. The Grid was a virtual universe where the Master Control Program (the MCP) ran an ordered, fascist-like society, enslaving and ruling other Programs while building a perfect binary realm. Flynn used Tron, a security program created by his friend Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) and Clu, his own hacking program, to help him defeat the MCP and find the proof he needed to save himself and his career. He then became CEO of ENCOM. Still with me? Okay.

Fast forward to 2010 and Tron: Legacy. Kevin has apparently been missing since 1989 and things have changed for the worst in the Flynn universe. His vision has been compromised; ENCOM has become a multi-national industry giant with his partner in crime, Alan, relegated to mere silent board member. Sam (Garrett Hedlund), his son and heir, has become a reclusive scion with daddy and authority issues.

When we first meet our hero, Sam’s acting out. He breaks into company HQ and steals a prized program in an elaborate stunt worthy of Mission Impossible. After releasing the program onto the Net and thus foiling the evil board members, Ethan Hunt er Sam is chased onto the roof by an overweight security guard. As a voluptuous creature myself, I was proud of the rent-a-cop for making it up all those stairs, then out onto the construction crane and all without having a heart attack or falling. Mr. Overstuffed Security Guard, you rock! Sam escapes his portly clutches by parachuting from said roof, only to get scooped up by the cops when he crash lands eighty stories below.

Later on, after Sam is oh-so-quickly released with nary a slap on the wrist, Alan comes a-knocking. He gives Sam the requisite what-did-you-think-you-were-doing speech, then tells him that he has been paged from a number that should have been disconnected a long time ago. “That’s impossible,” says Sam. “Oh no”, says Alan and convinces him to investigate. He hands him the Magic Key and Sam returns to the video arcade his father loved. It was great to see the place since I was a fan of the original film. He takes a long nostalgic look then opens the door. Holy electricity Ben Franklin! After twenty-one years, the lights, the games and sound system still work perfectly. My piece of crap cell phone isn’t that old and I have to baby it. Perhaps I should see if my Gordon Gecko brick phone is still lying around the attic. They obviously built stuff to last in the 80’s.

So our hero explores the old digs and finds a secret passage behind the Tron game. Of course. Down he goes and finds a Bat Cave filled with dusty computer equipment that is magically still running. Why isn’t my two year old PC this reliable? Sam accesses the machines, and zap! He is digitized into the Grid where his adventure begins. Rounded up as a broken Program by the crew of a floppy disc looking light ship, Sam is whisked off to the Games, where he’s forced to fight or be deleted. With some wicked f/x and ninja-like fight scenes with lighted Frisbees, he survives opponent after opponent until he’s pitted against the champion, Rinzler. He’s outed as a User and brought before the exalted Clu. After a stilted exchange, Clu vows to terminate him in a Light Cycle duel. Yes!

This is one of the coolest scenes of the whole film, I was totally enthralled with the cycles. Zipping around the floors, under the floors, riding along the walls…I want one of these! After a rough start, Sam gets the hang and things start going his way. He forms up with other Users or Programs, not sure which they are, and they take out some villains. Then it all starts falling apart and just as Sam is getting his behind handed to him, Quorra (Olivia Wilde) glides in on her super beach buggy thing and yanks Sam out of the game. She takes him to the Outlands, a strangely mountainous place that is “off Grid” where he finally meets his father. I want to know if there are Himalaya-like regions in my computer. Maybe that’s why defrag takes so long.

After the touching, yet rather underwhelming reunion, Sam gets the whole story. Kevin not only kept returning to the Grid after his original experience, but he also unlocked the secret of so-called isomorphic algorithms, ISO’s for short. They are self-generating programs that hold the keys to change what we know of science, religion and medicine. A rather impressive concept I wanted to know more about, but was sadly disappointed.

Avatar Clu did not like the ISO’s and the way Kevin responded to them. How these feelings develop is one of the many mysteries never expanded upon. He seized control of the Grid, defeated Tron and forced Kevin into hiding. Kevin was unable to access the portal and became trapped in the virtual realm. Clu deleted the ISO’s in a sort of computer generated genocide and consolidated his power.

Sam vows to make his way to the portal, so that he can defeat Clu from the outside and free his father. Quorra helps him by taking him to the virtual cityscape to find a Program named Zuse, who can supposedly help. They become separated and Sam hooks up with Castor (Michael Sheen), the owner of the End of Line Club, a strange place where Programs apparently get their groove on. Seeing the sexual tension and party-like atmosphere made me wonder if my Adobe Acrobat ever made eyes at Microsoft Word somewhere in the CPU. I digress. Here, Sam gets betrayed by Castor, who is really Zuse, and cornered by Clu and his guards. Quorra and Kevin arrive, there’s a big fight, she gets hurt, but the three manage to escape with Clu and his goon Programs in hot pursuit. From here it’s a race through an ocean of virtual landscape with lots of spectacular effects to reach the portal.


The 411...
I enjoyed Tron: Legacy, but was left feeling hollow. The effects were stunning and pretty to look at, but the story and the characters fell flat. Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde were annoying and one-dimensional. I found myself hoping they’d get deleted.
It was great to see Bruce Boxleitner, but he was underutilized. Jeff Bridges was good, but I felt like there was something lacking in both of his performances. He did not give his all to either Kevin or Clu. The plot was simply thrown together around the effects and had holes big enough to sail an aircraft carrier through. Nothing was really explained even though there were a couple of scenes that were pure info dump.

There you have it, the good, the bad and the WTF. If you venture out to see this, turn off your brain and don’t think about it. You’ll be better off.

Have you seen this movie? What are your thoughts? Leave your comments below!


This review was written by Melissa Bradley, published author and chief editor of Melissa's Imaginarium

22 comments:

Dempsey Sanders said...

Thank you for the review Melissa, enjoyed the read and your writing style is amusing I laughed a few times.
Such mixed reviews this movie, I think I will just catch it on rentel when it's out, it never really did seem my kind of things, but then the effects maybe worth seeing anyway.

Christian James said...

Great review Melissa, when I watched this movie I nearly fell asleep, especially with the vast amount of information dump like you say in some parts.
The effects were good, but for me I would have been just as happy watching the effects my disco ball makes on the wall as it spins.

A very fair review, welcome to the movie411 MelB.

Nebular said...

Melissa, dear, you should write movie reviews more ofter... coz this one is just great! :)

I have yet to see TRON: Legacy, though I hated the previews and trailers so much, that I fear, it's gonna let me down big time.

I did't get the hype around it even from the beginning, as the trailer featured some truly ridiculous dialogues, stiff acting and those 'neon' visuals, which I found to be somewhat depressing.

Oh, and I still laugh when I think of these lines:

- Dad?
- I'm not your father, Sam... but I'm very happy to see you.

or

- I was paged last night; came from your dad's office at the arcade.
- So?
- "So?" That number has been disconnected for twenty years!

LAUGHABLY BAD!

Dempsey Sanders said...

lol @ Nebular, them lines would have me laughing too.

Vapor said...

So you're saying it was pretty much exactly like the first one but prettier?

Jamie Gibbs (Mithril Wisdom) said...

Thanks for the review :D I was dubious about this sequel too, and it seems that all to often recently movies are effects heavy 'turn off your brain' ones. Still, it looks perdy so I'll still give it a shot.

DEZMOND said...

great review, Melissa, and I also agree with what Dempsey added in the end about the movie!
I've totally expected from TRON LEGACY to be just pretty for viewing and nothing much else :)

Holly Ruggiero said...

I have not seen it. I know I'll end up renting it when it comes out - but I'll turn my brain off and just have fun. Thanks for the review.

Dark-Blue-Jeans said...

Such a great review I hope I see more of you on the 411.

This movie just gave me a headache though. If I had turned my brain off I might have enjoyed it a little more but to be fair on the movie it was never my kind of movie anyway, though some of my friends enjoyed it

Minoccio said...

Great review, I felt the same way Melissa did, I liked the graphics, but the plot and the acting weren't that good. I didn't like the light cycle scene that much, even though it looked cool, but I liked the simple version they played in the first movie better.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I went in with low expectations (and I'm not a fan of the original) and really enjoyed Tron: Legacy. Yes the plot was thin (blame Disney) but the visuals and music were incredible. It's not deep - not supposed to be - so I think those going just expecting fun will enjoy it. I'd even place it in my top ten favorite movies of the year.

Josh said...

Great review.

Melissa Bradley said...

@Dempsey Thank you! I loved doing this. This one is definitely a rental, though the effects were really pretty.

@Christian LOL I would have fallen asleep but the guy next to me had huge arms and his elbows kept jabbing me awake. Good thing or I would have had nothing to write about. :)

@Nebular Thanks, George!:) You know the dialogue was so wooden you could build a log cabin. Those lines you quoted are hilarious and par for the course.

@Vapor That's exactly right.:)Except the first had more of a sense of wonder, which was missing here.

@Jamie It is very pretty and I love f/x so it is a good escape for 2 hours.

@Dezmond Thank you :) I agree with Dempsey, too.

@Holly You will have fun not thinking about this movie too hard. It's great escapism. :)

@Dark Blue Jeans Thank you. I want to come back here as many times as Dempsey will have me. The people I was with enjoyed this movie so much I had to put up with the breakdown all the way to the bar. I needed that beer I can tell you. :)

@Minoccio Thanks! Though I did love the updates to the light cycle, there was something about the one from the first movie that I just love.

@Alex You're right, the music and f/x were great. Disney is not a well of deep thinkers so I have low expectations whenever I see a film by the Mouse. I'm glad you enjoyed it though. My friends did, too. :)

Melissa Bradley said...

@Josh Thank you :)

Chris Phillips said...

i want to rent the original first, but i need to see it before it leaves theaters.

J-SON said...

This is great, Melissa seems as if she could well become a resident writer here in TheMovie411. More to come! ;)

Melissa Bradley said...

@Chris You can watch this without seeing the first, actually. There is info dump galore at the beginning and in the middle after Sam meets Kevin. Go for the f/x, they're cool. :)

Melissa Bradley said...

@Jason Thank you! I can't wait to come back here again. :)

JayPower said...

Saw this film on saturday, its so sick, the daft punk soundtrack was imense ;D

Speedy Ed said...

i HAVE to see this film, nice post. heard so many good things about it. iMax all the way ;)

Jim said...

A great review this movie. Honestly I really like this movie, so to comment this post . Thanks sharing

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