TRON: Legacy | Joseph Kosinski, 2010
28 years ago, a movie remembered pretty much only by its cult following called TRON came out and changed the language of cinema. It may have taken a while to catch on, but were it not for this, it is likely that big budget movies today would be different. It did not change cinema in terms of story, dialogue, or anything like that. But rather, it showed that you could indeed make a movie driven by visual effects generated by computers. However, that is pretty much the only thing that is remembered of the movie, although it is a fun and very cool. So, when the now famous teaser, announcing that there could very well be a sequel, premiered at Comic Con a couple of years ago, one had to wonder why, because they couldn’t really cash in on its fan base since it was too small. Still, due to the reaction, Disney was pressured to actually make the movie. And so now, about three years later, and a whole year of Disney promoting the hell out of it to make it into an event movie, TRON Legacy is here, and it is one of the most fun movies I’ve seen this year, but don’t expect to be challenged by the material.
The movie opens with Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) telling his seven-year-old son, Sam, about his discovery of the grid and how he could make a better world with it. That same night, he disappeared. As time passed, his company went to people that did not share his views on the good that technology can be. 20 years later, Sam (Garret Hedlund) is now 27, and is keen on making the lives of those who run Encom difficult. One day, Kevin’s best friend and business partner Allan bradley (Bruce Boxleitner), tells Sam that he received a page from Kevin’s office in his old arcade. Sam goes to investigate and finds himself transported into the grid.
Once there, he comes face-to-face with CLU (also played by Jeff Bridges), a creation of his father’s to help him run the grid, but he turned evil, and, well, you know. So now, Sam must find his father with the help of Quorra (Olivia Wilde), a program that was mentored by Kevil all those years and get him out of there before CLU gets into the real world and become Hitler 2.0.
Let me get this out of the way: the script is the only thing that keeps the movie from being one of the most memorable big-budget movies in years. First off, they could have done much more with the story that what they did here. Its main focus could have been how technology could at one point take on a life on its own, etc. However, it is a simple son-looking-for-dad story. The characters, although surprisingly well rounded, still weren’t sympathetic enough
Elsewhere, the movie succeeds with flying colors, starting with the visuals. Joseph Kosinski is making his directorial debut here, and I must say that he is someone to watch. He took on this film with little from the other movie to get ideas for what we would be seeing on the screen. But he, with his art director, cinematographer. visual effects team, costume designer, makeup artist, sound people, composers, etc. was able to create a world very modern and unlike anything we’ve seen before, yet remained faithful to the feel that the original movie had.
The visual effects, while not groundbreaking like in the first, are beautiful, and used to great effect. They are not like those in, say, a Michael Bay film, where there are so many superfluous effects that at one point they become intrusive. The only flaw in the visual effects was CGI Jeff Bridges. I didn’t mind him in the grid, but whey they are put side by side, and in the real world it just feels odd. Still, I give them props for trying. The sets are creative and beautifully brought to life. The costumes are surprisingly fantastic. You’d think that there was only so much they could do in a movie like this, especially considering the monotony of the costumes in the original, but no. The sound effects are, how shall I put it, gorgeous. They are thoroughly inventive, and the sound designers did an excelling job of putting them together. Daft Punk’s score, although I did not care for it when I first heard it without the movie, works perfectly well with what is going on in the screen. If there was any justice in the world, they would get an Oscar nomination for best score, but it is highly unlikely, as it is very hard for musicians who don’t score films for a living to get through.
And what of the performances? Well, they are mostly solid. Garret Helund is not the most versatile actor out there, but he had very little to do, but he did it well, but it is nothing spectacular. The same goes for Olivia Wilde, but I would expect more from here in another movie where she doesn’t play a computer program. Michael Sheen is a ton of fun with his short, David Bowie-esque performance. And while he is not the main focus, the movie belongs to Jeff Bridges. All throughout the movie you feel his presence, even when he is not on screen. And when he is on screen as Kevin Flynn, you can’t help but be in awe, just like when the programs see him. Further proof that The Dude does indeed abide.
TRON Legacy will not inspire any sort of philosophical debate or change the way we look that movies, like the original did, but it a perfect popcorn flick and a nice way to introduce this world to new generations.