Wednesday, December 29, 2010

TRON’s Legacy is a Forgettable One

TRON: Legacy

Despite my overall issues with the unoriginal plot, in my opinion Avatar has set the bar for 3D films. There have been very few 3D films; since Avatar’s release, that have managed to balance visual flair with a decent story. Most of the films have not even warranted the 3D treatment in the first place. Like several films released before it, Disney’s latest 3D adventure TRON: Legacy, boast impressive visuals but is ultimately undermined by the silly plot.

Set 20 years after the disappearance of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), the innovative software engineer from the original film, Legacy focuses on how his son Sam (Garret Hedlund) struggles to cope with his father’s disappearance. Sam is now the head of his father’s company, but cares little about seeing it strive. One night Sam is informed about a message sent from his father’s abandoned arcade. In the arcade, Sam discovers a portal that sends him into a digital world known as The Grid. Formerly a place of endless possibilities, The Grid is now a cold world ruled by Clu (Jeff Bridges), a computerized clone of Flynn. Clu is determined to expand his empire into the real world but needs Flynn’s memory disk in order to succeed. Sam, along with the help of Quorra (Olivia Wilde), must race to get his father out of The Grid before Clu can bring his plans into fruition.

As I mentioned earlier, TRON: Legacy is truly a visual treat especially in IMAX. However, there were times when the lighting from the suits would create a blurry effect on the IMAX screens. This was minor blip in an otherwise great job from a technical standpoint. The rendering of Clu is one of the most realistic computer generated characters I have seen in quite a while. Clu’s facial expressions and movements felt more natural than the ones featured in films such as Beowulf and The Polar Express. Another sight to behold is the world of The Grid. The set designs and costumes provided an innovative futuristic look while still acknowledging the original TRON film. I particularly liked the brief moment where Sam steals his father’s famous motorcycle from the first film. It should also be noted that the score by Daft Punk, who make a cameo in the film, also helps to bring The Grid to life. While not the feverish dance beats usually associated with Daft Punk’s work, their minimalist approach for the film works perfectly with TRON: Legacy. 


Despite all of the elements in the film’s favour, TRON: Legacy stumbles in its plot which often feels like a hybrid of Batman Begins and Star Wars. There are events that occur in the film at random moments with no real logic at all. For example, Kevin’s Jedi-like powers only appear when it is convenient to advance the plot. Which leads to audience to question if Kevin had this ability all along then why did he not use it sooner? The film is so bogged down with filling the gaps between the original TRON and the new version that it is practically devoid of action. Minus the sequences at the beginning and end of the film, TRON: Legacy is actually a rather boring film. In many ways TRON: Legacy would have worked better as a television series. It would allow for better development of all the various plot points that the film sloppily tries to cram into two hours. Worst of all, the dialogue in the film is both predictable and laughably bad. This is most evident in the forced romantic moments between Sam and Quorra.

Since TRON: Legacy’s plot and dialogue are so weak, the actors try their best with the material they are given. Jeff Bridges is at his best in the film when he is playing Clu. He offers a nice break from the same yet-again-recycled Lebowski character, last seen in The Men Who Stares at Goats, which he brings to the role of Kevin. While Bridges has his moments, the real highlight from an acting standpoint is Michael Sheen. He brings much need energy to the film in his role of the shady Castor. Sheen is the only one who actually seems to be having fun in the picture. Not only that but he makes a strong case for himself playing The Riddler in a future Batman film.

Unfortunately both Sheen’s work and the stellar visuals cannot save TRON: Legacy from its ridiculous plot. No matter how far the technology has advanced, at the end of the day it is the plot that will separate the good films from the average ones.

4 comments:

  1. I'm glad someone finally commented on Daft Punk's score. I thought it was incredible and made me glad I saw it in IMAX with better sound. As for the idea of it working better as a TV series, Disney already thought of that. They do have plans for a TV series, but after Tron Legacy dropping to third place at the B.O., I'm not sure how long that plan will last.

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  2. @Lyz - I am surprised more people have not talked about the score. It was one of the things that immediately jumped out at me while watching the film.

    Thanks for the heads up on the television show. I had no idea Disney was working on one. Though I wonder what aspect of the two films will the show centre around?

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  3. I liked this more than you. Even the plot didn't bother me to such an extent. I had hoped something more thought provoking would come about (something more hard-core sci-fi, which I think would suite Tron very well), but nothing ever did, which is mostly what disappointed me.

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  4. @Edgar - I guess I was expecting a more hardcore sci-fi tale instead of the watered down version we got. I will give your review a read today.

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