Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tron: Legacy Review

With one Jeff Bridges starring movie getting reviewed today I couldn't just skip over the one the he stars in twice... and admittedly the movie I've waited all about 3 years to actually see. But the question is, was it worth it? After countless times of rewatching the original 1982 Tron, constantly watching the trailers, trying to find any preview of the soundtrack that I could, participating in almost every viral marketing event, going to Tron Night, and skipping over a free screening last Monday so I could see a free screening of True Grit that happened to be at the same time AND across the street. Was it worth it?!

No. Not completely at least. Tron: Legacy is the feature length debut of Joseph Kosinski, who previous had only directed some special effects-heavy commercials. I think that's a big part of the blame for Tron: Legacy's end result. The other blame is hype and over-marketing. But I'll get into these later.

Tron: Legacy is the long in the making (though probably not the intended result) sequel to 1982's Tron, a film directed by Steven Lisberger, and famous for being the first film to use CGI to create a completely artificial world, and really the rest is history. So nearly 30 years later, what innovation does Tron: Legacy bring? The only thing I can think of would be 3D that's used to tell a story and costumes that can actually light up...

Story-wise, it isn't required that you need to see the original, as film takes place 25 years later, and much of what has changed is either explained via bedtime stories, news broadcasts and flashbacks; all of which seemed like really poor way to tel story in a theatrical film. Flashbacks are cool in Lost, but they just feel out of place here, and the news broadcasts were shown in a ghostly room full of phantom televisions... also weird. And then theirs the cliche story about how the digital world is building an army that wants to break free of their realm and take other the Earth. Yup...

Acting-wise... Garrett Hedlund knows how to do two things: smile, and stand. And that's really all I can say about his character of Sam Flynn. Olivia Wilde doesn't know whether she's playing a badass warrior, small minded child, or mannequin. And Jeff Bridges... while enjoyable, and I get that he's been in this world for over 20 years and things change, but he didn't feel like the same character that I saw in the original film, and that was kind of upsetting. However, his character of Clu felt completely different than "The Dude" and most of the time I thought it was a different actor, so, well done sir.

But, this is nothing new. If you've actually watched the original Tron, and not just assumed you've seen it thanks to pop-culture, you'd know that the film was never any sort of cinematic masterpiece, everyone just remembers it because it was the first film to use CGI and it looked cool for the time. Even to this day, Tron probably still has the most unique visual style of any film ever. Thirty years later however, things basically haven't changed. Tron: Legacy has two things going for it, an awesome visual style and art direction, and a killer score that's unlike anything before it. But, it's still not that great at telling a story, and guess we can call it the Tron Tradition... or Trondition if you will. I can hate on the acting and the story all I want for either film, but in the end I still love both because of the way they look and sound, and you can't say that about a lot of films.

Overall, I'd say this, I was certainly disappointed with the film because I got sucked into the hype. When a movie appears at Comic-Con three years in a row, and all you can do is read about how people loved what they saw, you can only assume good things. Getting wrapped up in the viral marketing aids to that as well, but I don't regret getting all the free swag that I did. But while I really loved the way this film looked and sounded (a separate review for the score will be up eventually), there are definitely a lot of things to question about some of the film making choices, and I think Disney really should have considered a director with more experience at telling stories than just making things look cool, especially when they want to make a franchise out of it.

Overall Sore: 8.2/10

To justify that score, I'll say this. I enjoyed it more than Avatar, which I gave an 8/10 last year. While I praised that film for the way it looked and story that just 'worked' I wasn't crazy about it. Tron: Legacy's story may not have 'worked' by most standards, but because of the visuals and soundtrack and familiarity of some of the characters (a.k.a. fanboying) I have to give it a bit of an edge. So that's how I justify that score despite a lot of negativity. Plus I intended to see Tron: Legacy numerous times in theaters, I can't bring myself to watch Avatar again.

No comments: