Thursday, December 16, 2010

Greetings programs! Tron Legacy Rocks! End of Line

So I finally saw the movie I've been waiting 28 years for. Tron made a huge impact on me as a kid, and while it hasn't aged well, it remains an important film, mainly for its groundbreaking digital world. I never thought I'd see a sequel, and the fact that Disney are taking a gamble by doing a sequel instead of a remake is something to be applauded. I honestly haven't been so excited to see a film since The Phantom Menace (and we know how that turned out).
First up, let me say Tron: Legacy is no Inception or Avatar. The plot is as muddled as the first movie, and the characters are barely more than archetypes. The plot sags in the middle with exposition and all the best action scenes are early on. Now that the bad's out of the way, why did I still love this movie?
First of all, it looks gorgeous. The blocky virtual world of the first movie has been updated to resonate with today, while still keeping true to the aesthetic of the original. The light cycles, glowing frisbees and sexy light costumes are back and look better than ever. The filmmakers cleverly decide to save the 3D until the protagonist Sam Flynn (son of the missing Kevin Flynn) enters the digital world. The 3D doesn't pop out at you but draws you into the depth of this neon universe. Sam being thrust into the game arena is a breathless sequence that has more cool stuff than you can shake a glowstick at.
The digital "youthening" used on Jeff Bridges is a little creepy, though it works better for the soulless CLU than it does for flashbacks of Kevin. Having the same actor play the hero and villain is a neat concept.
As I've mentioned, the middle section where Sam reunites with his father is a little slow, but the actors (especially Bridges and the alluring Olivia Williams) are good enough to keep these scenes watchable). There is even some emotion in the father/son relationship that shows not all the movie was apparently written by computer programs. Michael Sheen also has a fun role as a flamboyant program.
The final showdown with the Flynns, renegade CLU and Tron (yes, he is in the movie, though fans may not like how his character is used) is exciting though it doesn't outdo anything we've already seen. The ending leaves room for a sequel, though probably one sans Bridges.
The score by Daft Punk is awesome, though I would have liked more nods to Wendy Carlos' theme from the original. The effects deserve the Oscar (hard to believe the original wasn't even nominated). There are lots of nice nods to the originals (the big door, Cillian Murphy playing Dillinger's son) and there's always something on screen to engage your eyes. The script could have been better, but this is a film for the fans. If the fans don't embrace it, they should be de-rezzed!