Thursday, December 23, 2010

Movie Review: Tron Legacy (3D)

I'd have preferred a non-3D viewing, really, since most of the effects are subtle enough that they didn't add a lot to the film. Still, the 3D stuff was produced WITH the movie, as opposed to afterward, so it was better than it would have been if it were just tacked on to cash in. That said, I had to take the glasses off several times to ease the 3D headache.

Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner reprise their original roles as Kevin Flynn/Clu and Alan Bradley/Tron.

Flynn's gone missing. His son, Sam (Garrett Hedlund), goes looking for clues at Flynn's Arcade and soon finds himself fighting for his life on the Game Grid like his father did 20 years ago. Conveniently, he's fresh from leading the city cops on a high-speed motorcycle chase--so of course he's a whiz on the Light-cycles.

The discs are no longer so Frisbee-like, the fighting much more athletic and gymnastic (maybe these are 64 bit instead of 8?). The Light-cycles are pretty damn cool--and are capable of much more complex maneuvering (curves!) than their predecessors. When a Warrior is "de-rezzed"(destroyed) in battle, there's an intense liquid splash of tiny cubes. Very cool.

Instead of Alan/Tron's love interest Lori/Yori (Cindy Morgan), there's Olivia (House) Wilde's Quorra. She's a fighter, not simply in-distress eye candy.

There are plenty of little call-backs to the original, but not in the soundtrack. Daft Punk's techno/house music fits the flick nicely, reminding me of the original "Terminator" and Blue Man Group. They don't quote any of Wendy Carlos' music from the original "Tron," and that's too bad, but not a deal-breaker.

Overall, the look of the Computer World (the "Grid") is more refined than that of the original, maybe missing some of the wireframed primitive coolness and definitely feeling like more of a grown-up movie (none of the kiddie gags of the original). Going by the opening narration by Kevin Flynn, these changes are his work:
The Grid. A digital frontier. I tried to picture clusters of information as they traveled through the computer. Ships, motorcycles. With the circuits like freeways. I kept dreaming of a world I thought I'd never see. And then, one day... i got in.

The CGI de-aging on Flynn/Clu is nicely done, though it's a little obvious at times in "real-world" flashbacks.

One amusing aspect of both movies is the religious relationship between Programs and Users. In "Tron," even Sark (David Warner) is afraid when he learns that Kevin Flynn is a User. In "Legacy," however, the fighting programs that face off against Sam Flynn relish the opportunity to destroy one of their "oppressors," mocking him as the 'son of our Maker.' Considering that his father was a hands-on creator, mingling face-to-face with Programs, I guess familiarity did breed contempt. I wonder how many fundies will see the movie and demand an apology for their bruised feelings at such a thing.

Overall, I'll give it an 8; 2 points off for the headachy 3D.

Here's the IMDb page.

FOLLOWUP (Dec. 25, 2010): Just back from seeing the 2D version. Better experience this time around--I wasn't fiddling with glasses or rubbing the bridge of my nose. There are really only a few solid 3D moments, anyway. The three leads--Bridges, Hedlund and Wilde--are fun!

Jeff Bridges-as-Flynn has a quiet Zen vibe that reminds me of "The Big Lebowski's" Dude, but dressed in clean Japanese robes. As Clu, he had a way of saying some of his lines that made me laugh, but I was the only one.

Garrett Hedlund gives Sam just the right amount of cockiness and fearlessness. We see early on that he's a thrill-seeker--the high-speed bike chase and a BASE-jumping scene that follows set us up for similar situations in the Computer World. I'm wary of conveniences after last year's painfully long reading of Mercedes Lackey's "Valdemar" series.

Olivia Wilde reminds me of a 1920's "flapper," probably because of her short-bobbed hair. Quora comes across as a veteran fighter but not world-weary or cynical. Quiet and low-key with a rare smile worth seeing.

Without the headache, a much more enjoyable film.

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