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Friday, December 17, 2010

Tron Legacy Review

I first saw Tron when I was in Grade 2.  The principal at my school would have an annual movie day where all classes for the afternoon would be canceled and we'd all head down to the gym to catch a Disney movie.  This particular year, the movie was Tron, and I was hooked.  I don't have any idea how many times I threw around a frisbee pretending it was one of the discs from the film.  
Rumors of a Tron sequel have been circulating the Internet for years.  I think the first rumor I read was in 1996, shortly after I first got online.  That rumor said that Pixar was working on a 100% computer animated Tron remake for their second film.  For the documentary on the 20th anniversary DVD, Tron director Steven Lisburger revealed he was developing a sequel with the working title Tron 2.0, and from what I understand, Lisburger's general plotline and new concept went into the same-named video game that came out in 2004.

And then, in 2008, Disney showed some test footage and the San Diego Comic Con, and it happened.  For me, this was the most anticipated movie of 2010.  

Following his experiences in the first film, Kevin Flynn, the hero of the first film (that's Jeff Bridges) has gone to become one of the most visionary computer programmers of the 1980s.  But then, in 1989, he mysteriously disappeared, making an orphan of his young son Sam.  We catch up with Sam in the present day, as a somewhat aimless young man, who frequently cyber-terrorizes his father's old company.  One day, he's visited by his dad's old friend Alan Bradley, who says that he got a call from Kevin's old video arcade.  Sam heads to the arcade, discovers a secret computer lab his father had set up, and soon gets sucked into the computer.

Turns out, following his experiences in the first film, Flynn had the idea to try to create the perfect computer system from the inside.  And in order to do this, he created a computerized duplicate of himself named Clu.  As Flynn's idea of a perfect system soon began to differ from Clu's, Clu seized power, and now runs this virtual world as a brutal dictatorship.  With Clu in charge and his access to the outside world cut-off, Flynn has been in hiding in this virtual world for the past 20 years.  But now, with Sam's arrival, the world has changed, and Sam and his father need to escape before Clu can unveil his master plan.  

Is it wrong that every time there was an allusion or a reference to the first film, I wanted to stand up and cheer?  There was a reverence for the original in this film.  Many action sequences are designed to mirror sequences in the first film, only with today's state-of-the-art effects.  I did find the 3D effects to somewhat muddle the action, though, as it made some of the fast-paced sequences a little too fast-paced.  Hey, they even threw in a reference to that other great 1980s hacker classic, WarGames.  

Jeff Bridges is great, although in some scenes, he seems to be playing the Dude from The Big Lebowski rather than Flynn...a great example is at one point he utters, "You're harshing my zen, man."  It was cute, and it got some laughs. 

One of the things I enjoyed was it took some of the concepts of the first film that I felt weren't explored fully, and finally explored them fully.  Sadly, though, some of the new concepts introduced aren't explored fully.  Don't you hate it when the backstory sounds so much more interesting than the story you're watching now?

And one question I had was, since the movie is called Tron Legacy, is the character of Tron in it?  Yes, he is, and I wish he had a better character arc that what he got, but when he does finally utter his creed from the first film, that's one of those "stand up and cheer" allusions I talked about earlier.

The special effects is good.  Olivia Wilde as Quorra, the elder Flynn's apprentice, is incredibly adorable.  The plot, sadly, is a fairly by-the-numbers affair, though, and becomes quite predicable.

In the end, it's a lot like the live-action G.I. Joe movie that came out last year.  I'm having trouble trying to discern whether it actually is a good movie, or if my nostalgia for the source material is doing a really good job of blocking out the flaws. 

All in all, though, I enjoyed the hell out of it, and that's all that really matters.

Three out of four nibs.

This amounts to my off-the-cuff observations.  You'll find my full-blown review over at my official website.

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