Tag Archives: tron

Not Such a Quickie Review: Tron Legacy

Has it really been twenty-eight years between Tron and its sequel? The personal computer boom, the world wide web, e-commerce, 3D, the XFL, Daft Punk—all of these things were merely glimmers in a dreamer’s eye when the first Tron appeared. While Tron may have seemed a computing club odyssey in the eighties, Tron Legacy is like a short trip down the information superhighway in 2010, easily relevant and hugely appealing. Except if it’s not.

Tron Legacy is the odd movie whose visuals are perfectly realized but whose story and characters are firmly 2D. Briefly, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is trapped inside an arcade game, and it is the job of his bad boy son, Sam (Garrett Hedlund), to come rescue him in “The Grid.” Clu, Kevin’s computer avatar, has hijacked the game and is now intent on world domination, prepared to teleport an army of bad guy “program” soldiers to Earth. If ever you thought about buying a good antivirus, Tron will convince you of it. There are many other subplots tied to this tech universe; many of these are frustratingly unexplained or are tied to threads from the first movie.

This brings me to my biggest pet peeve: the world of Tron is no world but instead a carousel of pretty images. Mixed together in the movie’s overlong two plus hours are influences as mystifyingly diverse as Zen Buddhism, electronic music, Atari, Akira, Ziggy Stardust, Jules Verne, modern architecture, open source, and Russian science fiction flicks such as Aelita or Solaris. I wished many times during the movie that the director would just pick one idea and stick to it.

Not to say it isn’t an attractive, seductive film. The Daft Punk soundtrack is spectacular, providing the right electronic edge for The Grid. The visual effects are a total reboot from the first film. Michael Sheen is on fire as an evil David Bowie dancing his way through an all too brief cameo. The fight scenes are awesome, and the glow in the dark Grid is like an enchanting Tomorrowland wonderland I want to spend more time in. Yet this virtual world lacks depth.

I’ll end this review with a word of warning to directors of the future. Even with the best visual effects, million dollar budgets, and the most advanced studios at your behest, you do not have a movie without a fully realized script. There is a closing conversation between Clu and Kevin that comes to mind. Kevin tells Clu that “there is no perfection” and that the search for it is essentially meaningless. Likewise, you can make a perfect two hours of three dimensional images—but without meaning, intelligence, characterization, and story, those amazing, intricate visuals will never resonate the way they should and will remain but shadows on the screen.

My Winter Movie Preview

We have waited. And waited. Let’s face it, this has been a pretty dry year for Hollywood, and for only these next two months quality is coming to the cineplex. So, here’s my round up of some of the movies I’m excited to see this season. If there’s a movie I should know about or missed, please tell me about it in the comments. I would like to hear your picks for the holidays.

Disclaimer: I am rating these purely based on my interest level; I haven’t seen any of them.

Tangled (November 24)

It may be Disney, but it’s not quite Pixar.

One out of four stars.

The King’s Speech (November 26)

The great thing about Colin Firth is that even in very bad movies, his performances are always top-notch. The man has presence. I am looking forward to seeing how he plays George VI. And the script, by David Seidler, sounds outstanding; George’s travail to rise above his speech impediment and find his voice in the midst of World War II is an inspiring story and should be told. This LA Times preview gave me a good insight into this film and only made me more excited about seeing it.

Four out of four stars.

Black Swan (December 3)

I’m just not too into the premise of this movie. I like the idea of a modern movie about ballet dancers and Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman and all of that, but from what I’ve read, the psychological horror and suspense plot seems like something tacked on to appease American audiences. While I am no stranger to seeing a campy mess for laughs, the pretentiousness of this project ultimately dooms it.

Two out of four stars.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (December 3)

The movie’s tagline says it all: “Forget Everything You Know about Santa…It’s All Lies.” How could you possibly pass up this one? The story of a murderous Santa Claus invading Northern Finland sounds like the perfect holiday horror film. For someone who has celebrated Hannukah all his life, all I can say is bring it on.

Three out of four stars.

Casino Jack (December 17)

Any movie about Jack Abramoff, the Hollywood screenwriter turned Washington lobbyist is OK by me. Kevin Spacey portrays Abramoff, and Jon Lovitz gets a featured role as a mafia type. The plot, loosely based on Abramoff’s own story, sounds a bit absurd, but in their defense, it’s not like these things don’t happen in Washington. To hear Spacey point to himself and say “I’m a super-lobbyist!” is reason enough to see this film, or at least watch the trailer right now:

Three out of four stars.

TRON: Legacy (December 17)

I can’t stay away from this one. The CGI visuals look fantastic, the soundtrack from Daft Punk is really exciting, and the way this movie has been advertised for about a year in LA makes this a must see on my list. If Jeff Bridges can really pull off the role of techie trapped in a video game (and he has in the original Tron)—well, give this man another Oscar right there.

Four hundred out of four.

True Grit (December 22)

Again, Jeff Bridges! I saw the trailer on the sixty foot screen in the Hollywood Arclight “Dome.” So powerful was that one trailer that the movie I was there to see, The Social Network seemed like a disappointment, and I left the theatre wondering how long I would have to wait for True Grit. Jeff Bridges seems a pretty good replacement for John Wayne and you can’t get any better directorial team than Joel and Ethan Coen. From what I’ve read, the film is pretty faithful to the original 1969 film. Will most likely be better than many of the nu-westerns we’ve had to endure in the last decade.

Four out of four.