Posted by: jgurner | December 20, 2010

Review: TRON: Legacy

AVAST! Beyond here thar be spoilers!

First of all, I will have to say they really would have had to screw up TRON: Legacy for me to have been disappointed. So, keep that in mind whist reading this.

That said, I really liked the movie. It was great seeing Jeff Bridges and Bruce Box Leteiner back in the roles that completely failed to make Brice Boxleitner famous and didn’t really seem to bother Jeff Bridges’ career. It was great seeing the world on the other side of the computer screen revisualized 28 years later. But, it was also nice to see that the movie had a decent script, plenty of action and audio-visual eye candy and a little bit of emotion.

I have to say that like the 1982 original TRON, this movie won’t be for everyone, but I believe it will be much more palatible to the non-diehard geeks. Maybe not quite like J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, but close. The movie seems to keep in mind that many people probably haven’t seen the original since the 80s late night on HBO. And Disney seemed to want to keep it that way. DVDs of the original are impossible to find. Not on the video store shelves or Netflix. It seems that if you don’t already have a copy of the original movie, they really don’t want you seeing it befoe you go see this one.

And who can really blame them. Even though I love the original TRON, I’ll be the first to admit it’s not a very good movie. The idea is mega cool, but the script is pretty weak and the acting is terrible. Plus, like the early 80s, it had too much Journey. (One of my complaints about TL is, in fact, they felt they needed to put a Journey song in the soundtrack. Nothing EVER needs a Journey song in the soundtrack.)

TL does a decent job with the plot. I won’t go into it, but it has quite a few of tried and true sci-fi themes woven together and they work. The acting is definitely better than the original and decent for a sci-fi flick. Boxleteiner’s character being included in a small, but fairly important role is a nice touch and he does it well. And Bridges is great. Over the past few years I’ve really come to appreciate what a great actor he is. He’s pretty much the reason I want to see the remake of True Grit.

And, speaking of Bridges, you can’t talk about this movie without talking about the de-aged version of Bridges who plays CLU, the evil(?) despot ruling over Pac-Land, I mean The Grid. I’m sure there were hundreds of lines of coding, in Basic, used to de-age him and make him look 20-something years younger and, 99.9 percent of the time, it looks great. And that .1 percent of the time, you won’t really care because there’s so much going on.

The movie, once you get into The Grid is chock full of eye candy. It really captures the “Holy crap! That’s cool!” factor of the special effects in the original when you saw it on the big screen 28 years ago. As I’m sure any of you who know me guessed, I didn’t see it in 3D, but did see it in digital and that was eye-popping enough for me.

Another strong point about TL is the soundtrack by Daft Punk. They are a duo I know little about, I may have a track or two of theirs, but I know they’re big in electronic music circles. And I can see why. Their soundtrack is the one part where the movie gets a perfect score. While the movie is playing with your eyes, the music is playing with your ears. I definitely want to pick up the soundtrack.

The movie isn’t perfect by any means. Attractive young guy – Jeff Daniels’ movie son – and attractive young girl – the program who is Daniels’ apprentice in The Grid could have pretty much been anyone and neither are anyone whose names I care to remember right now. They did what they were supposed to do and were adequate in doing it. They could probably be replaced in the sequel (and you know it’s coming) and I’d be none the wiser. I do have to say that TRON Girl’s haircut bugged the hell out of me all through the movie. It looked like they put it on crooked.

And, yeah, at times it’s kind of cliche. Rebellious kid. Tyrannical ruler. Corporate suits only interested in the bottom line. Father-son abandonment issues. But, hey, it did the things I expect a movie like this to do: It looked cool and I was entertained. All the rest is just a bonus.

TRON: Legacy definitely hits all the nerd points it needed to hit and it also managed to be a pretty decent movie. And, it only strayed in to Matrix territory just a tad, but since there probably wouldn’t have been a Matrix without TRON, I guess it’s okay.

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