Review: Tron Legacy

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde

Director: Joseph Kosinski

Kevin Flynn returns from the virtual world in 1982, only to disappear again in 1989. Twenty years later his son, Sam, recieves a message from his father and finds himself drawn into the same virtual world, looking for him and finding more than he bargained for.

“Your old man’s about to knock on the sky and listen to the sound.”

So, now that all the hype has died down, I decide to actually watch the thing. I was never a huge fan of the original Tron, but as an 80s nostalgic, and a Jeff Bridges fan, the sequel was bound to catch up with me sooner or later.

Tron was one of those movies that bemused most everyone on its initial release and only really picked up a following later. Back in 1982, more people were indifferent to the computer age than were fired up by it, and so a movie set almost entirely in a digital environment (albeit an early 80s digital environment) was never going to capture popular culture. Nearly thirty years later, however, and the balance has reversed. A society still to be overcome by the digital age is now a society saturated in it, and that would seem to be the perfect time for Tron to make a comeback. Except that it’s not. Like I said, society is now saturated in the digital age and, where Tron was ahead of its time, Tron Legacy is a little behind it.

Despite its attempts to add new elements, the movie gets sucked into retreading too much of the basic plot of its predecessor, with Flynn’s son seemingly taking the same journey as his father did in the original. Sucked into the virtual world, playing with glow-in-the-dark Frisbees and cool bikes, taking on the maniacal leader of  the world, meeting a babe in a tight costume. Same old, same old. Only this time, the virtual world is less Atari and more Playstation 3. Garrett Hedlund is a passable hero as Sam Flynn, but he is immediately blown into the scenery whenever Bridges comes into the frame, playing the elder Flynn as some kind of cyber-dude. Marginally less successful is the bizarre character of CLU, the aforementioned maniacal leader, who turns out to be a younger version of Bridges with CGI effects taking the actor back to his 1982 age. The makers almost pull it off. There are moments when the regressed Bridges looks totally convincing, but they are few and far between. One day, and probably soon, technology will reach the point where CGI can perfectly replicate the human face, but we ain’t there yet.

This is not to say Tron Legacy is a disaster. It’s an entertaining, visually impressive piece of fluff, but that’s about all it is. All the hype suggested that this was a movie which would expand the boundaries of digital filmmaking, much as Jurassic Park once did, but that’s not really the case. Less groundbreaking than the original, Tron Legacy offers little more than some pleasing nostalgia, a few cool action scenes and a cracking Daft Punk soundtrack.

Rating – 2 Stars

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15 people thought reading “Review: Tron Legacy” would be a good idea. Stranger still, they left messages...

  1. Helen

    “Eh” on the movie overall but loved, loved, loved the score. I’m with you on the convincingness, so to speak, of the “regressed Bridges” (like that way of putting it, btw).

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      “Eh.” I like the way of putting that. :-)

      The soundtrack was the one thing that I left the movie remembering. It’s got a great retro feel to it. Yay 80s! ;-)

      Thanks for commenting, Helen.

      Reply
  2. Custard

    I saw this at the cinema, I havent posted a review of it, I am waiting to see it again when release on Blu Ray as I was hoping I was wrong about it.

    After reading your review I now realise that I wasn’t. Boring, sentimental and old hat that despite being very pretty and sound stunning, just mises the mark.

    The CGI of “the dude” is just wrong in a bad way. Very clever, but odd. They stil can’t quite get the eyes right.

    Love this quote dude…”the virtual world is less Atari and more Playstation 3″ very funny

    Custard

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      I agree the main problem is the eyes, but sometimes the facial expressions weren’t fluid enough either. In fact, I couldn’t see any remarkable progression from the animation in that Final Fantasy movie 10 years ago.

      Good to see you, as ever, C.

      Reply
      1. Custard

        You’re so right. The expressions looked wooden (or should I say plastic). And I too could only think about Final Fantasy. At least in that one it was all CGI so it went together.

        With this it seemed so obvious because of the mix of CGI and Live action acting

        C

        Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Ah, the magical, regenerative powers of Photoshop. Don’t tell anyone, but I actually don’t have a face. That’s all Photoshop, that is. It’s amazing what you can do with a couple of circles and an emboss tool.

      Thanks for reading, Lisa. :-)

      Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      If I can earn the appreciation of someone that liked the movie more than I did then I’ve done a good day’s work. ;-)

      Thanks for reading, Evan. :-)

      Reply
  3. King Uke

    Caught the film a couple of days ago Rich and I’m in the same boat as you with this one. The thing that got me was that the original was more of a trend-setter, whilst this film is very much a follower. It’s a mish-mash of all sorts of films – none of them that good. The phrase “Style without substance” springs to mind. I didn’t even get a kick out of the music. Am I missing something important here?

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      No, I don’t think you’re missing anything. After the build-up and hype the movie got, it was always in serious danger of disappointing but I wasn’t expecting it to leave me this flat. Still, I did enjoy the soundtrack more than you, by the sound of it. Retro-heaven! :-)

      Reply
      1. King Uke

        Yeah, not liking the soundtrack surprised me too… I am usually a fan of Daft Punk. But then, I watched the film on a plane… so perhaps I was only hearing every other note? Hardly the best environment for enjoying anything really… That may explain a lot!

        Reply
  4. Hm

    Just watched it on DVD – story was a load of nonsense, but I was quite compelled by the visual style of it all (not the young Bridges, who was indeed somewhat plastic and stretchy), but the strong colours and design of it all, plus the quite Inceptionesque soundtrack. It was a bit like watching a two hour Lady Ga Ga music video though.

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Lol, well put. It was a little like that. :-) For sure the soundtrack was the highlight, and it did look amazing, but I guess I was expecting something groundbreaking and didn’t get it. Expectation is the enemy, as usual. ;-)

      Reply

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