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Tron: Legacy, The Reviewgitation

A reviewgitation of Tron: Legacy with
Direcow Avatar Direcow,Kakita  Avatar Kakita and Korgath Avatar Korgath

Thanks to NuffNang, we won premiere passes to catch the long-awaited sequel Tron: Legacy on Monday night, and after doing quite a few Reviews and Reviewgitations on HereBeGeeks, this is the first time when we’re not all on the same page about a movie, so this promises to be interesting.

Tron: Legacy is about the digital adventure of Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), son of the original protagonist Kevin Flynn (once again played by Jeff Bridges). The movie follows the events of Tron, the 1982 science fiction movie where the older Flynn went from arcade game designer to become CEO of megacorp ENCOM (and if you wanna know more about the original movie here’s a quick recap from Indy Mogul via Babbleon5).

At the start of Tron: Legacy we discover that the sudden disappearance of Kevin Flynn at the peak of his popularity leaves the young Sam bitter and resentful about being the new major shareholder of the company. Twenty years later, Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) hands a grown-up Sam the keys to his father’s old office, and there the young Flynn discovers an old computer and unknowingly activates the digitizer, sending him into the electronic world his father created.

Direcow  Avatar And we too are sent hurtling into the grid, with the 2D real world giving way to the 3D world of Tron. That 2D-3D segue was a little subtle, but it soon becomes obvious that we’re in somewhere totally different, and I think this works as a great introduction to the electronic world of Tron.

Kakita  Avatar Where director Joseph Kosinski succeeds, he succeeds in spades. The set pieces are an electronica ballet dance, with the grid world of Tron looking like a cybernetic Brave New World by way of Steve Jobs.

The light cycle and disc fights are all beautifully choreographed, with all effects being done for a purpose. When a disc slams in to a program and he derezzes into his constituent bits, or when the laws of physics change on a whim, you know you’re not in Kansas anymore.

Korgath  Avatar I agree. Not for a single moment did I feel the 3D effects were threatening to overwhelm the whole experience, as would be the case for other 3D movies this year. Short of Avatar, Tron Legacy is probably the only movie where I would recommend watching in 3d rather than 2d. If you’re going to spend money watching a 2 hour effects fest, you might as well be entertained in the manner it was meant to be seen.

Direcow  AvatarTotally. What must probably be the most telling example of how 28 years of computer graphics has evolved is probably Jeff Bridges’ character Kevin Flynn; someone who hasn’t existed for 20-odd years. While some bits of him are still not as lifelike as it could have been, that’s just me being very anal – on an artistic level Tron brought it’s A-game and in that aspect Tron is almost perfect.

Kakita  Avatar I also feel that the music was just about perfect. The rock that plays when Sam walks into Flynn’s bar grounded the bar in its 80s roots; and when Sam arrived in Tron… From thumping base in club scenes to the orchestral electronica during pitched battle; let’s just say that Daft Punk doing the music was the single best idea in Tron Legacy.

Korgath  Avatar Unfortunately though, both Tron and Tron: Legacy also suffered from redundant plotlines that don’t get resolved properly and minimal acting in favour of extraordinary visual effects. While some might be willing to forgive that, I thought it was a waste that despite the 28 years, there was little to no improvement between the two movies.

Kakita  Avatar See, that’s the bit that we disagree on. While I do agree that the plot may be a little wishy washy at times, a lot more movies have done a lot more worse, and it’s not like they had the mindblowing ambience that is oozing out of every pore of Tron: Legacy.

Also, considering the original suffers from the same flaws and conditions as the sequel (or perhaps more accurately the successor), while we could wish for a better plot and acting, isn’t it understandable that the movie decided to concentrate on atmosphere, music and visual effects rather than an oscar-winning story?

Korgath  Avatar I’m not asking for awards – I just didn’t expect to watch a 2 hour electronica music video.

Direcow  Avatar I think that allowing a sequel to have the same flaws isn’t acceptable. Obviously there are times when even the sequals are way worse than the original, so matching the original ain’t half bad, but given the amount of effort and time put into the movie I too was hoping that it would accept the original’s faults and improve on that too. Thinking that it is perfectly acceptable for sequels to just maintain the status quo is just waiting to open up a whole new can of lazy filmmaking. We want more The Empire Strikes Back, not The Phantom Menance.

Korgath  Avatar As a fan of the original movie, I do appreciate the efforts to maintain many of the elements that made Tron the seminal movie it was. The Lightcycles played a big role, but there were also references to the original, like the little blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo by Bit, which were definitely nods to the fans. However, these were little comfort, especially when the movie’s tagline, “The Game Has Changed” clearly indicated that the feel of the Tron universe in the sequel would be markedly different from the one fans were more familiar with.

Kakita  Avatar It’s good that they made it a lot easier to understand for the person new to the Tron scene. It’s nice that they clued the viewer in with flashbacks on how the Tron scape turned from how it was like in the 1982 original to the present, and the quick references to the original were a good nod to old fans while light enough that viewers could watch Tron: Legacy as a standalone. It wouldn’t do to make Tron mandatory to understanding Tron legacy, especially since it comes almost 30 years after.

Korgath  Avatar There was still too much of an attempt to create a new mythology out of Tron, by introducing elements which didn’t exist before. The biggest miss would be the creation of the ISOs, which failed to capture my interest due to the fact that they were totally nonessential to the plot and then subsequently eliminated.

And perhaps for me one of the biggest gripes I had was not having made enough use of some of the fantastic talent they had cast. I’m referring of course to Michael Sheen and James Frain, both of whom had criminally small roles in the two hour long movie.

Sheen would be familiar of course to genre fans for his portrayal of the Lycan leader Lucian in the Underworld series and *shudder* his vampiric portrayal as the Volturi leader in the Twilight series, even if his acting chops are better demonstrated in the likes of 2006’s The Queen as former British PM Tony Blair, and the very underrated Frost/Nixon opposite Frank Langella.

Direcow  Avatar And of course, as Wesley Snipes on 30 Rock.

Korgath  Avatar As Castor, owner of the End of Line bar (yet another reference) however, Sheen hammed it up as best as he could, but the scene was ultimately a throw-away which did very little for the plot and even less for the actor.

Frain’s his recent portrayal of psychopathic vampire Franklin Mott in the latest season of True Blood, as well as his equally recent guest turn in Leverage were both stronger than his presence on Tron: Legacy. In both roles, Frain was inherently creepy and undoubtedly evil, yet somehow strangely sympathetic. In Tron: Legacy, playing the weaselly sidekick Jarvis, Frain was left with nothing to make his character stand out.

Direcow  Avatar Actually I think Frain did a good job – since I think his job was to make sure I wanted to see less of the character, and then cheer when he’s finally destroyed.

And let’s not forget the positives in casting. I.e. Quorra and Gem. Together with getting Jeff Bridges to return – this was pretty great casting, with the emphasis, I guess, on “pretty”. Olivia Wilde did her best wild eyed wonder look as Quorra, but it’s too bad how underused Beau Garrett was, just when her character and motivations seemed interesting. I guess the show did have tons of interesting points for people to grab on to, but sadly the payoff for each point was just lacking.

Korgath  Avatar I’m beginning to realise that Tron: Legacy felt like it didn’t know what to do plotwise. It vacillated between reboot and sequel, and shot itself in the foot.

Ultimately, with all the special effects, the great soundtrack and the sheer lack of plot, this movie may have done better as its own stand-alone rather than trying too hard to update the Tron universe for the modern day.

Kakita  Avatar I guess you were looking for a 2 hour story and got sorely disappointed, whereas I was looking for a 2 hour visual fest and was totally blown away.

Korgath  Avatar Heh… that’s simplifying it somewhat, but there’s some truth there. Yes. Tron: Legacy is good fun, but little else, and the worst part is that it tries to be more but fails. 6.5/10

Kakita  Avatar Me, I saw what the original movie was (hokey plot to have awesome cyber effects and battles) and came in expecting the same. Tron is most likely the most ambitious movie this year, both visually and aurally. And it succeeds beautifully. 8.5/10

Direcow  Avatar And as for me, Mr Middle Ground – I think Tron HAS to be experienced. In that sense it is highly recommended. But otherwise it gets a 7/10.

Average: 7.33333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333…/10

direcow

The technological backbone of HereBeGeeks.com, Alvin’s machinist-nature also ensures that this blog remains alive when the unpredictable Murphy’s Law comes into effect.

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3 Comments

  1. oh man, i really wanted to like this one but i’ll have to go with Korgath here. Not so crazy bout the plot esp. the ending with Jeff Bridges, to me that didn’t make sense at all. anyway, great SFX, really makes me wanna watch the ‘making of’ and see how they pull off young jeff b. and young bruce b.

    Like i said earlier, i’m just wondering if Lucas has anything to say bout certain scenes. 😉

    1. I quite suspect their plotting process involved throwing random ideas at a wall to see what stuck and then using silly string randomly to tie them together. But they did give a healthy dash of “references to the first film”, so kudos for that.

      yeah, just like the original Tron, a ‘making of’ would be a fun watch.

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