FlixChatter Review » TRON: Legacy

There are all kinds of reasons why I anticipate a certain movie. Most of the time it’s the directors/actors involved, sometimes it’s the story that grabs you, whether from a trailer or the book a given movie is based on. But sometimes, it’s neither. As I’ve mentioned here, I got curious because my husband’s a fan of the original and we even rented it as a ‘warm up’ before I see the sequel. Interestingly enough, my reaction about the two movies are quite a contrasting one. Whilst the 1982 version’s storyline was engaging, the visuals left much to be desired—granted it was impressive back then—that I quickly became numb by all the neon lights. TRON: Legacy is definitely a major improvement as the 3D visual effects is so dazzling you can’t help but marvel at its glossy neon world (even the TRON-ified Disney logo animation is absolutely beautiful). I soon become immersed in the digital realm and sit in awe of its beauty, but once I step away from all the visual candy even just for a little while, the plot just doesn’t hold up.

Michael Sheen and Garret Hedlund

The story starts off with the disappearance of tech genius Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) and the owner of computer technology empire ENCOM the night he told his son Sam about a new “digital frontier” he has created called The Grid. Fast forward twenty years later, the now grown-up Sam (Garrett Hedlund) is lured by a mysterious pager message from a supposedly disconnected phone from Flynn’s abandoned arcade. Before he knows it, he’s sucked into the digital world, a.k.a The Grid just like his father did and the quest begins to find his long, lost father. I think the premise has a lot of potential but it seems that the filmmaker and all the studio honcho’s main concern with this sequel is to improve on the technical eye candy that any trace of narrative coherence is thrown by the way side. On the one hand, the movie seems to take itself so seriously that it almost takes the fun out of the the video game world; but on the other, the convoluted plot is riddled with plot holes and preposterous scenarios that forces us to check our brain at the door in order for all of those to work.

Then there’s the acting. I thought Sam Worthington’s lackluster acting in Clash of the Titans was bad, but Garrett Hedlund seems on pace to match his as one of the worst acting of the year. Sure he’s got the swagger and rebellious sensibility of an orphaned rich kid with serious daddy issues, but he certainly lack any dramatic skills the role requires. Ok, this ain’t Shakespeare and he’s perhaps picked more for his athleticism for the fight scenes, but it really wouldn’t hurt to see some any kind of believable connection between him and his father. As if that wasn’t bad enough, we’ve got the ridiculously over-the-top Michael Sheen as a club owner with white suit, white hair and white walking cane, who must have thought he was the star of David Bowie or 80s Lady Gaga’s music video.

Olivia Wilde as Quorra

Jeff Bridges is the only hope for any kind of dramatic grounding, but he pretty much just reprises The Big Lebowski‘s The Dude for the digital era with lines like “Biodigital jazz, man!” and “Youre ruining my zenman!” I suppose if we really want to see Bridges’ acting prowess, it’ll be in True Grit. Bruce Boxleitner is back as the creator of the TRON program Alan Bradley, and Cillian Murphy also makes for a brief cameo in the beginning scenes, though he’s so utterly underused I don’t even know why they cast someone of his caliber. Olivia Wilde actually fares pretty well as Quorra, Kevin Flynn’s protege who’s drawn and sympathetic towards Sam. She rises above being a merely ‘pretty prop’ like the other girls in the skintight cyberpunk suits.

But even with all the shortcomings, this is by no means a waste. In fact, for the 3D effects of the lightcycles alone, I’d even be willing to recommend this movie. And it’s definitely one to behold and savor in its full 3D glory. This is Joseph Kosinski’s first feature film after years of making commercials and short films, and the three and a half years it took to make this movie definitely paid off visually. I really can’t say enough about how truly stunning is the world of the new TRON: all of the neon-lit vehicles, the light-up rubber suit costume design and futuristic landscape and architectures are worth the price of admission. The ambiance is enhanced by the vibrant and dynamic music by French Electronic music duo Daft Punk, who has a cameo in the movie. The soundtrack is probably one of the movie’s greatest assets.

Well, for a while now I’ve been contemplating about adding some sort of a rating system. Y’know, like you see in every professional critics’ reviews… and seems like a good many movie bloggers out there have a rating structure. Instead of stars, I’ll be using film reels which is also part of the logo of FlixChatter (a complete ratings guide to follow).

I give this movie 2.5 out of 5 mainly for the visual effects. The filmmaker hints at possible follow-up at the end but given the poor storytelling quality, I don’t think I’m that interested (except maybe if Hedlund is replaced by oh say, Christian Bale).

Two and a half stars out of Five
2.5 out of 5 reels

Has anybody else seen this movie? If so, what did you think of it?

25 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review » TRON: Legacy

    • Glad you like the rating system, been wanting to install that for a while.

      It’s still worth a watch for the visuals, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it Vince.

  1. what a fun review! I agree with u on Hedlund’s acting. I hope he will be better in films to come (Country Strong, etc). Dustin over at http://hearculturepop.wordpress.com/ mentioned that his dialogue seemed to only consist of “Whoa”s and “This can’t be good”s and such like! And the predictability and the plot holes/cliffhangers did become a frustration..no doubt.

    but, the visual effects, Jeff Bridges, and Jeff Bridges really made the movie for me! I am glad you enjoyed it.

    btw, love the film reels. It is fun to come up with a rating system.

      • Andy, I just checked that film out on IMDb. WOW, Hedlund got the lead role with Viggo Mortensen and Amy Adams supporting?? Man, Hollywood must be seeing something in him that I don’t [scratch head]

        • If it is faithful to the book Sal Paradise (Sam Riley – who was brilliant as Ian Curtis in Control ) is the main character not Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund) although his is probably the second biggest part. The rest of the cast is amazing, hopefully it will give Kristen Stewart a chance to prove some of her detractors wrong.

          • I haven’t seen Control but have heard good things about it and Riley. I have Boy A at home waiting to be watched, starring another great young Brit Andrew Garfield.

            I hope you’re right about who gets the lead role. As for Kristen, I think she’s talented despite my dislike for Twilight flicks. Both she and R-Patz are horrible in those movies but they’ve proven their chops in other, smaller fares.

            • Andrew Garfield is proving to be a very talented young actor, his was the best of some really good performances in Social Network.

              I think it is the characters that are the problem with twilight not the actors, if you haven’t already check out Stewart in Adventureland and Pattinson in Remember Me.

              If you get the chance before the movie comes out you should read On the Road, as mentioned it is one of my all time favourite books.

    • I just commented on his post. Nice review but obviously I disagree with his rating.

      Hey, why don’t you add a rating system to your reviews, too, T? :)

      • I’ve actually been considering that. I had certain standards, if you will, when I started the site, that obviously have changed as I’ve grown into this movie reviewing career. But I am a little hesitant having over 60 films reviewed now. Questioning if I should re-rate them with a settled system…or if I should just start with a system at this point and go on.

        • I’m considering going back to add the rating to my old reviews (since I’m not as productive as you with less than 50 reviews so far). But since I’m doing a Best & Worst list, I might assign a rating to those on the post.

          • you may have fewer reviews than i, but i seriously question you being “not as productive.” You have one of the most impressive sites I know of! Alot of work! AND you comment on everyone’s comments and pages! I may have more reviews, but I can’t keep up with everyone as you do! Definitely the more productive one here is you! :)

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention FlixChatter Review » TRON: Legacy More eye candy and less brain candy. But worth a watch for the lightcycles alone! -- Topsy.com

  3. I didn’t have as big a problem with Bridges’ sometimes Lebowski-esque lines. If you remember Kevin Flynn was never really a serious guy in TRON either.

    • True, true. I guess he’s still got that playfulness of when he was younger. It’s just funny to hear him talk like the Dude in a digital world.

  4. This movie is puzzling in that everyone seems to agree on the hollow plot construction, but nobody seems to be able to totally condemn the film. It is visually stunning and I think that people’s expectations of the film should not have gone beyond that.

    What I think was missing was more of the “as above, so below” elements that the original film managed to tease about. If they could have had some story elements that reflected what was happening in the “real world” and how they affected things in the “digital world”. Would have been cool to see some kind of association between CLU and Cillian Murphy’s character or something – I mean, why bring Murphy on at all?

    I’ve noticed it’s snowing on your blog. (There are loose white pixels drifting across the screen) Is that on purpose? ‘Cause it’s very cool.

    Glad to be back. Peace out!

    • It was rumored that Cillian Murphy will appear in the sequel,if there is a sequel.

      I kinda hope he won’t be in the sequel tho…If the story is still as plain as this one, i would prefer not watching it but if Cillian is involved, I have to march myself to cinema even if I don’t like the story.

      This one has stunning visual with plain plot,but i can’t condemned the story because tho it might sound weird, I like this story better than Avatar.

      • Yeah, Tron had slightly less familiar plot elements than Avatar, even if the plot wasn’t totally fleshed out.

        I doubt that a sequel will be happening, for at least another 28 years or so. It just didn’t bring in the kind of money that would warrant one…

        • Hi Steve, no I don’t totally condemn the film as despite its flaws, I was still entertained by it and the visuals did impress me a lot.

          Oh, the snow is a WordPress feature. Unfortunately it’ll expire in Jan 2 :(

          I agree that a sequel might not be in the cards given the dismal returns, but I think Disney is planning a tv series.

          @ Novia, Cillian would be a great factor in making me want to watch any follow up to this :)

  5. Whew! Shot down going to this one with the girls. My 10 y/o was up for it. I somehow knew it was a stinker. Thanks for the thoughtful review!!!

    • It’s still worth a watch for the visuals Mike, I think since you did some 3D animation you’d especially appreciate what they’ve done. You’ve seen the original right? To say it’s a huge improvement is still an understatement.

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