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6 reviews, 27 user ratings

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Tron: Legacy
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Get A CLU"
4 stars

28 years ago, in a desperate effort to revive a moribund film division that was limping along with a slate that consisted of dull-as-dishwater new efforts such as “The Last Flight of Noah’s Ark” and “Condorman” and reissues of their classic animation titles, Walt Disney Studios took an enormous gamble by producing the film “Tron,” a sci-fi epic that used cutting-edge computer technology to tell the story of a computer programmer who found himself zapped into the world of cyberspace and forced to fight his way through a series of gladiatorial-like video games. Although the film was universally praised by critics for its astonishing and groundbreaking visuals, a number of them came down on it for what they felt was a trite and bland storyline (this was during the time when Disney was still struggling to make films that would appeal to older viewers) while audiences largely stayed away in droves in order to go see that summer’s juggernaut, “E.T.,” again. Over the years, the film would develop a cult following among film geeks--including yours truly--but for the most part, it was filed away in the cultural canon as just another weird artifact from the 1980’s. Therefore, it came as a shock to most people when it was announced that Disney was once again bet the farm on “Tron” with a hugely expensive sequel/reboot that would use the latest in cutting-edge technology, including the miracle of 3-D, to bring the franchise to a new and hopefully larger audience. Perhaps not surprisingly, the result, “Tron: Legacy,” is a film that is in many ways just like the first one--a visually stunning but dramatically thin epic that will annoy naysayers, perplex those who have never seen the original and sort of satisfy the fans who have been waiting decades for it to appear, though it is doubtful that they will venerate it to the degree that they did with the first one.

As the film opens, we learn that Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), having survived his journey into cyberspace from the first film, mysteriously disappeared without a trace in 1989, leaving behind his young son, Sam, and leaving Encom, his wildly successful tech company, to fall into the hands of board members more interested in profits than in innovation. When the story picks up again in the present, Sam (Garrett Hedlund) is a sullen young man who enjoys racing motorcycles at dangerous speeds and while he has no interest in stepping into his father’s shoes and taking over at Encom, he does enjoy breaking into the place on the anniversary of Flynn’s disappearance in order to pull elaborate and dangerous pranks designed to call the board out on their greed. Later that night, Sam is visited by his father’s old colleague, Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner), who informs him that he received a page from Flynn sent from a number at the long-shuttered video arcade he used to run. Sam goes to the abandoned building to investigate (in which all the vintage video games are still standing there ready to go--easily the least believable aspect of the film), finds a functioning computer and before you know it, he too gets zapped into the computer system and finds himself battling for his life in the familiar games involving flying discs and light cycles that his dad was forced to participate in long ago.

Before long, Sam is rescued from the game arena by the beautiful and resourceful Quorra (Olivia Wilde) and taken to a remote area where he is reunited with his father, resplendent in a full beard and flowing white robes and living in an apartment inspired by the last few minutes of “2001.” It turns out that after freeing himself from cyberspace all those years ago, Flynn devised a way to move back and forth between the two worlds and was on the verge of making an enormous breakthrough involving the creation of human-like “isomorphic algorithms” when his computer doppelganger, Clu (Bridges again, this time sporting a digitized version of his face to make him look like he did back in 1982), shut off the portal between the two worlds, destroyed all of the new beings (well, maybe not) and seized power for himself while trapping Flynn in the grid once again. It also turns out that Clu was responsible for the page that brought Sam over and now that the portal is open, he and has minions are plotting to steal Flynn’s information disc and transport themselves to our world to wreak havoc. This puts Sam, Flynn and Quorra on a race against time to reach the portal before Clu and prevent him from escaping while making the leap themselves.

The central challenge in reviving the “Tron” franchise after all these years is to try to figure out a way to create a story that would appeal to the fans of the original film while still managing to attract the mass audience that pretty much rejected it wholesale 28 years earlier. Unfortunately, the small army of screenwriters who toiled on the project haven’t quite figured out how to pull it off. Even though audiences, even the younger ones, are more sophisticated today than they were in 1982 but the story still has the kind of simple-minded gee-whiz attitude that permeated the original and when it does introduce an intriguing concept, such as the notion of Flynn and his clone essentially representing both the good and evil aspects of the rapid evolution of technology, the film doesn’t really go on to explore that conceit to any degree. Beyond that, the story is little more than one extended chase and the lack of any real tension causes the proceedings to drag a bit a times, especially when it clocks in at over two hours, and its new central character is a bit of a bore. Another significant problem with the film, and I apologize for sounding like a broken record when it comes to this particular subject, is the underwhelming use of the miracle of 3-D. From a technical standpoint, it is a little better than usual since the film was specifically shot in the format and was not the subject of an after-the-fact conversion. However, the film doesn’t really make much use of the format and since most of the film takes place in the world of cyberspace, which is depicted here as a dark world lit up with flashes of neon colors, the inevitable dimming of the image that comes with wearing the glasses cause the visuals to become too dark to fully enjoy at times. This is a spectacular-looking movie but unless you catch it at a 2-D screening, you will have to wait until it arrives on Blu-ray to find out for sure.

These are flaws but hey, the original “Tron” had its problems as well and like the original, the things that work in “Tron: Legacy” work so well that it is possible to overlook those hiccups in order to bask in all the things that it gets right. When it is able to cut through the murk caused by the 3-D eyewear, the visual style of the film is as spectacular as that of the original in the way that it takes the established concepts of the first one and expands upon them to meet with today’s technical standards. The driving score by the acclaimed electronic music duo Daft Punk is thrilling to boot--although it may sound more like a conventional movie score than their other music, it adds immeasurably to the film and is easily one of the best scores of the year. On the human side, Jeff Bridges is clearly having a blast returning to the character of Flynn after all these years and one can even detect a bit of The Dude in his blessed-out hippie take on the roll--I love the moment when his son explains the concept of WiFi to him and he serenely responds “Oh, I thought of that in 1985.” Olivia Wilde’s character may not make a lot of sense in the long run--she is supposed to be some kind of super-being but the film never quite makes it clear what she can and can’t do--but she looks so good in her form-fitting cyber-suit that few are likely to notice. Finally, Michael Sheen pops up late in the game for a bizarre cameo as the owner of the cyber world equivalent of Rick’s Café American and his performance, which seems to have been inspired by Ziggy Stardust, is so decidedly strange that it is either the best thing about the film or the worst but regardless of which you consider it to be, you will find it impossible to take your eyes off of him while he is on the screen.

Is “Tron: Legacy” worth seeing? If you are a fan of the original, it is obviously a must-see and there are plenty of little in-jokes that they will no doubt appreciate but I suspect that even the most forgiving of those viewers will recognize that the magic and wonder of that one has been lost to a certain degree here. Newcomers are likely to be confused by the myriad plot details, especially the opening scenes that try to benefit of those who either never saw it or blotted it from their minds, but if they just sit back and let it simply wash all over them, I think they will appreciate it as a knockout piece of eye candy, especially if they can figure out way to see it in the glory of 2-D. Actually, it is my sincere hope that every man, woman child goes to see it as many times as possible and turn it into one of the biggest box-office hits of all time--if a film like “Tron” can get an unexpected sequel that winds up making a ton of cash, maybe there is hope that “Buckaroo Banzai vs. the World Crime League” will finally get made as well.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=19780&reviewer=389
originally posted: 12/17/10 09:20:00
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User Comments

8/26/12 David Pollastrini Found it rather dull. 1 stars
1/27/12 Kathryn Martinez I liked the plot. It had my heart racing during a few scenes! 4 stars
1/16/12 zenny CGI? check. Lighted costumes? check. Plot? oops. 2 stars
11/24/11 Ronin Uneven, still I recommend it 4 stars
5/15/11 stephen nettles FUN 4 stars
4/18/11 mr.mike Not bad , and a big improvement on the original. 4 stars
3/20/11 Guido Sanchez Light on the story, but gorgeous and opens up a whole new world of possibility 4 stars
3/10/11 williams Jet Bradley can kick Sam Flynn's ass anyday. But at least Quorra is less scary than Mercury 3 stars
2/19/11 RePTaR Liked the idea of incorporating the 2D->3D shift, but the story was lacking. 3 stars
1/23/11 bill norris If nothing else it has 1 of the best scores ever! Go Daft Punk. 4 stars
1/21/11 Dark Guardian 3D was flat..script was rewritten and it showed..black on black on black.. 3 stars
1/18/11 Jack Terrible. Awful. A WASTE. 28yrs & this is the best they could do? 1 stars
1/17/11 sunny day Bring back the real computer lingo and the circuit board outfits, you stupid assholes. 1 stars
1/14/11 Dan I saw this in Imax 3d, it was pretty trippy and cool as dix bros, you should watch it 4 stars
12/31/10 Ming Crappy story..Great special effect 2 stars
12/29/10 Faraz J Crap story. Crap dialogue. Ok grpahics. 2 stars
12/26/10 DK Beautifully designed and fine in the moment, but on reflection the script was quite weak 3 stars
12/26/10 M Stellar visuals, pumping sound, authentic 80's plot 5 stars
12/24/10 Roy Smith Boring characters, nothing but CGI, $16 for this? 2 stars
12/22/10 SteveO Like Ultraviolet with Better Graphics. Bridges calls everyone "Man" like The Digital Dude. 2 stars
12/22/10 dr. strangelove absolutely stellar visuals and sound. absolutely bland plot and character development. 3 stars
12/22/10 Ace-of-Stars Dull & Disjointed; good for 1-time watch & just for nostalgia's sake, nothing spectacular 2 stars
12/20/10 tex Where are the funny PC themes? This looks like bad comic book shit in outer space instead. 2 stars
12/20/10 Cy I 2nd what Karamashi said. Flawed and beautiful. 4 stars
12/18/10 Karamashi They remade a flawed, yet deep and beautiful movie. 4 stars
12/18/10 bored mom The 2003 game Tron 2.0 has a more interesting story + better use of B.Boxleitner & C.Morgan 3 stars
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  17-Dec-2010 (PG)
  DVD: 05-Apr-2011


  DVD: 05-Apr-2011

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