Friday, December 17, 2010

Movie Review: TRON: Legacy

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When the original TRON released in 1982, it wasn't a huge box office hit but it made its money. More importantly is that it managed to work its way into tech boys hearts as a film that put an idea into their head of what the digital realm of the inside of the computer would be like if they could live there, to live on The Grid. The effects used in the movie were eye popping. Now, 28 plus years later director Joseph Kosinski brings us back to The Grid with effects that are just as eye popping. The real world has evolved and so has The Grid in TRON: Legacy.

Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner reprise their roles as Kevin Flynn and Alan Bradley in the real world and CLU and TRON on The Grid. Not much is done in the way of showing detailed close ups of TRON, but CLU is shown. With the computer technology available today Bridges 60 year old face was recreated as a 30 year old for CLU as a program inside a computer wouldn't age. Bridges has to play against himself as both the good and the bad guy. This is not a walk in the park mind you, but it didn't seem for him that it was hard to do.

Flynn's son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) has been missing his dad for twenty years. At that time, the elder Flynn told his young son that they'll go play video games on the following Saturday but the older Flynn disappears. No one knows what happened to him. When Bradley informs the younger but now grown Flynn that he received a page from his dad's old arcade, Sam checks it out. He finds out what happened to dad as he does like father, like son and gets digitized and placed on The Grid. When Sam is almost derezzed meaning digitally destroyed, he is rescued by Quorra (Olivia Wilde who was Thirteen on Fox's House TV show) a friend and student of his dad's. It's up to both Flynns and Quorra to prevent CLU from taking complete control of not only The Grid, but the real world as well.

Right now if you're trying to find a copy of the original, good luck! Disney has allegedly pulled all copies for purchase and current rentals. Maybe if you have a friend who purchased the DVD or VHS tape or scour eBay or Craig's List you might be able to see it. The prevailing theory is that Disney didn't want people to see what by today's standards might seem like a poor movie but for the time that it released was state of the art. For three years starting at Comic-Con 2008 this film has received huge promotion even following the foot steps of Avatar by releasing a 23 minute advanced preview during TRON night to drive buzz about the new film. I went to Tron Night here in Honolulu and was surprised that most of the theater was empty. With so many empty seats, it might seem that there wasn't interest. Apparently Disney didn't follow the rule that when you offer something for free, you must oversell the event in order to fill all the seats. When people came out of the theater there was excitement.

The digital world of The Grid is familiar if you had seen the original TRON but evolved and changed. The suits worn on The Grid are similar but developed. The special effects necessary to bring The Grid to this new life are impressive. The world as defined within the evolution of The Grid between the input and influence of Kevin and CLU will wow the senses. As a note here, I saw the 2D version of the movie. But the effects alone don't carry a movie, there has to be a great story that makes us want to boo the bad guy and cheer for the heroes. From Pixar Studios, Toy Story 3 writer Michael Arndt, and The Incredibles director Brad Bird were brought in to help tighten up the screenplay. What we got was not a great story, but it was a good story. Most of the points of the film moved the plot forward. There were a couple of times I was scratching my head because I seemed to miss point B on the way to connect points A and C.

The film had a PG rating for sequences of sci-fi action violence and brief mild language and ran 127 minutes long. I didn't find myself looking at my watch and there were no easter eggs at the film end. Of special note is the score done by Daft Punk. The music went hand in glove with the imagery and tone of the film and the duo even got parts in the film as masked DJs at the End of the Line club.

There was a lot of visual imagery to take in for this film and I'll probably make the effort to see it a second time to absorb those details.

The Movie Monkey

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