A Discussion of Tron LEgacy

First, an apology. A few of my posting plans got harpooned. I should have posted a reason but I was unable to do so. But look, a review!

 

To end Christmas and bring in the New Year I present a review of Tron Legacy. As with the first movie the plot here is somewhat simple, while being told in a complex fashion. Kevin Flynn vanished many years ago and now his son embarks on a quest to find him. As he does so he is pulled into the computer world and becomes an important piece in the rebellion brewing below the surface. Really, it’s a lot like the first Tron but from a different vantage point. Last time we had a fallen god walking among his people as they tried to stop a false god; this time we have a half-deity who assists the chosen one in overthrowing a corrupt dictator. Really this movie is about pretty lights and cool action, and that’s OK; it’s a little bit of Batman meets Star Wars with lots of awesome lighting.

I only have three real problems with Tron Legacy. The first is a necessary evil as the movie must depict a young Jeff Bridges and in doing so it terrified me. I do not know if thye used a full on CGI head or just computer assisted de-aging effects but the result was mixed. When he had minimal movement it looked pretty good, very realistic and hard to notice until the effect is pointed out. It gets pointed out the moment he opens his mouth and reveales the terribly lip synch and sloppy mouth animation. I creeped me the hell out the first time it appeared. The second problem was the inclusion of an annoying nightclub owner; he pulled me out of the film and all I could do when he spoke was wish for his immediate de-resolution.

The final problem was with the ‘Darth Maul’ of the film, a program named Rinzler. The character is actually portrayed pretty well, but suffers the same function and problem of Darth Maul. He is a bad ass, with many acts of power on display, and in the first half of the movie he is a sinister presence. In the second half of the film he really begins doing things on his own, working to further his master’s goals on an independent level…but he does this silently. It’s not that he can’t talk, because he does, but he is given very little dialogue to make us care for him, and I really felt the need to do so. So it’s not a problem per se, but a fumbled opportunity.  

With all that out of the way I would point out that those are simply three small things that bothered me. The movie as a whole is solid. The set design is awesome and much more coherent than the original, it feels and looks like a real world, which parallels the development of technology nicely. The new glowing outfits really looks good, I still prefer the original costumes, bit these are very much awesome. There is lots of fun tech going on and the action is considerably amped up. All in all a very solid outing that was fun all the way through. The pacing suffers a little bit, but so did the original; happily for every moment in which I began to get distracted there is a hippy moment for Jeff Bridges, so I’m cool.

The improved games are awesome, and I love the new light cycles. It might seem a bit silly to actually point them out but they are very cool. They also really focus on the data disks, which is nice. We are told in the original that they are important, but here they get bad ass close ups. I’m not being sarcastic, I’m listing awesome. I also love how inhabited the world looks; it is no longer a couple important people and the Red Shirt, now we have heroes, NPCs, Red Shirts, and crowds.

The music is pretty awesome as well. The first time I actually noticed it was a real world sequence, with a very fast motorcycle pseudo-chase. I felt the music was not something I was used to hearing in such a scene, and it sounded nice. It fits well, and in a few scenes literally changes to fit the mood of what is going on. Fantastic stuff.

Tron Legacy is not going to be the important developmental landmark that the original was, but it’s a solid movie that I found fun. It’s not deep, but it’s not going for deep. It’s going for pretty lights, cool action, and women in tight outfits with lights on them. Tron Legacy gets a 4/5.

As a side note: in this world you have lights on your shirt, which you wear while in your car that is covered in lights. You drive this on a road that is illuminated along the sides and middle. This road goes between buildings that also glow and feature random lights. To me the fact that there are street lights along the road seems like just a bit of excess.

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One thought on “A Discussion of Tron LEgacy

  1. Despite the imperfections in the animation, CGI young Jeff Bridges is one of my favorite parts of the film, and I enjoyed it a lot.

    In terms of performance, I do agree with you: the effect is really quite excellent until he opens his mouth.

    However, I love the implications, the very idea that an older actor can play off against his younger self. I figured CG technology would start nearing this point eventually, and I’ve questions whether or not the use of it to portray a CGI actor in a live action environment would be appropriate. This is a case where I think it’s a very good and fitting use of the tech, and while it’s not perfect (arguably no more than the original Tron’s was back in its day compared to what we can do now) I think it’s a clear marker to where things might go in the future.

    To be candid, I think even the filmmakers knew the technology wasn’t perfect. It shows in the opening of the movie, when Kevin Flynn interacts with his young son and they take pains to largely avoid shots of his face. I’ve generally heard the conceit (which I agree with) that it can be forgiven to a point in the digital world precisely because of the kind of world it is.

    That aside, I do agree with your qualm with Rinzler. I understand why he was handled the way he was, and I figured out the secret behind his character halfway into the film, but I wish they’d done a bit more with him before the conclusion of the film. I’d probably call his handling as my one real problem with the story.

    Still, good damn film overall and a nice way to close out the year.

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