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?