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A visually stunning film with a plot as an afterthought
Tron Legacy (DVD)
Member Name: paulie1975
Tron Legacy (DVD)
Advantages: Looks amazing
Disadvantages: The visuals are the key, the story is secondary, the characters can't develop
What is it about?
Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), the star of the original Tron was a computer designer ahead of his times, as well as creating the world renowned Encom Operating System, he created a computer game called Tron, which came to life through a portal door between here and there, unfortunately Kevin gets stuck in the game leaving his son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) to grow up only with his father's stories about a strange make believe land he once visited. Sam and the public in general have grown up believing Kevin ran away due to the pressure of his success and never returned.
One day Kevin is visited by his father's old business partner, Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) who suggests that Kevin is possibly still alive within the game he created so lovingly, he asks Sam to go and check the arcade his father once owned which is now part of his legacy. Sam visits the arcade and whilst playing with a computer reopens the portal between this world and the world of Tron, finding his father and a world of hi tech gladiatorial games and conspiracy.
In the world, which was created, CLU (Bridges) has taken over, destroying all of the original programs/people which he felt were imperfect and replacing them with a colder nastier breed of programs to do his bidding, Kevin has been banished from the kingdom of Tron by his protégé and Sam has to fight in the games to discover through salvation where his father really is.
Can he save himself and his father and return to real life or will he follow his father's fate and end up trapped in the computer game for ever?
Who is in it?
Jeff Bridges has the most roles, he plays himself as he is now, a middle aged Kevin Flynn, he is computer animated as his younger self in flashback story scenes and also computer animated as CLU, the destructive computer program who has taken over the land of Tron. As Kevin he is Zen and almost god like as the worried creator of a world which is destroying itself, whilst as CLU his facial expressions are animated and it is slightly off putting but he has a robotic zeal and desire for humanity which make him distinct from the other programmes.
Bruce Boxleitner doubles as in the original as Tron, Kevin's original creation and Alan Bradley his working partner in the real world, he doesn't have a major part as either character, but his character is key to proceedings.
Hedlund plays Sam with a gung-ho spirit but doesn't ever achieve a 3 dimensional character, he starts the film hacking programs and jumping off buildings and fights within the games on Tron, but his character doesn't really do much more than this, unfortunately I did feel he was a vessel rather than anything more to the story. He is the everyman headstrong hero, despite apparently being a computer genius like his father you can imagine his character using his head to break through a door rather than using the door handle.
Michael Sheen has a great cameo as Zuse a program who knows everyone and everything and is needed by Sam to find the portal, he high kicks, shoots people with his stick and camps it up perfectly looking like a strange mix of Tony Blair and David Bowie. Again his character has an element of the old characters from 70's sci-fi that have interesting cameos and then aren't seen again on the characters journey.
Finally, Olivia Wilde plays Quorra an ISO, a program created by the Tron Grid rather than by Kevin or CLU, all of the other ISO's were destroyed by CLU and she is the last of a dying, almost perfect breed. For me she was the most interesting character, visually she looks amazing, but she had the right elements of optimism, hope and innocence of a program who wants to be more, it reminded me of characters in AI and Logan's Run, her performance is the only one which offers any emotion in the piece, there are under touches of a potential romance between Quorra and Sam but these aren't really opened up.
There is a cameo from Cillian Murphy as a computer programmer but he is only on the screen for moments and criminally underused.
Did I enjoy it?
I did enjoy the film a lot but came away feeling it was all action and very little emotion, my other half adored this film as a fan of the original, I came at it as somebody who saw the original when I was little and remembered nothing except the interesting lights and bike races.
I liked the initial set up of the film, where the Encom Corporation created by the missing Kevin Flynn has basically entered the worlds of everyone with its ground-breaking operating system (Dig at Microsoft at all), the CEO talks of world changing technology, but when challenged about what is so different about the newly released system 12, he tells an underling 'it has a 12 on the box'.
In this set up, a developing Sam Flynn is the owner of the company who has no power, in the real world he sets about challenging authority and causing trouble, once he enters the game he can't do this and has to use his wits to stay alive.
The computer world looks amazing, the suits are awesome, the CGI is excellent and I'd imagine this worked pretty well in 3D, the games as in the original are a tad boring and under heated, but nonetheless they are a great idea. There are also some really stinging plot holes which are unexplainable and leave more questions than answers, which I won't spoil for you but really made little sense to me.
I liked the idea of the creator of this land being shunned by the masses who had been reprogrammed by the demented CLU, leaving Kevin hidden away with awesome power but no fight to do anything or return home.
His character is calm and almost hippy like but doesn't do much, Sam is gung-ho and adventurous but on many occasions is saved by the kick-ass Quorra, who is the films real high spot.
The film builds from Sam arriving to finding his father to trying to help him escape, there isn't too much development in the middle and afterwards it did feel like a well-designed idea which does its job but like the program had no soul to it. Perhaps this was the idea, but the film has the effect of looking awesome but having creaky plotting which leaves you feeling very short changed at the end.
I thought the characters and the creation of the land looked stunning, but the substance just wasn't there, perhaps there are some undertones about the capriciousness of computers here, but I think more likely the idea was to visually blow peoples socks off and then build a film plot around it.
For fans of the original this will be a huge hit, for people looking for a bit more substance behind the flashing lights, I would suggest you might find this a little lacking.
The ending was a massive disappointment for me and the final line is incredibly cheesy and weak, I really had thought after some of the complex narrative and need to explain the world that the film might end with question marks, possibilities or opportunities but it ends in a middle of the road, yawning manner which is only saved by the excellent acting of Olivia Wilde.
To put this film in context, the acting took 68 days, the subsequent CGI and visual effects took a further 68 weeks, so this shows where the films priorities were. It does look fantastic but was clearly a homage to the computer world without really giving proper due to the story.
Daft Punk play the soundtrack and even appear as themselves (with their usual robotic outfits) to spin some tunes during a fight scene, their soundtrack is awesome, it has futuristic undertones and an 80's vibe in homage to the original, but it sounds stirring and fits this world perfectly, my next stop is to buy the soundtrack as that was the most impressive part of the film for me with the most substance.
Tron Legacy cost us £7.99 on Amazon, it is still available at this price currently, and this is a film only review as we haven't checked out the extras yet.
In there is a new world! In there is our future! In there is our destiny! - Kevin Flynn
Tron, what have you become? - Kevin Flynn
Summary: A visually stunning film with a plot as an afterthought