Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tron Legacy Review

Hello again Internet!

Tron Legacy is the sequel to the 1982 cult classic, Tron, directed by first-timer Joseph Kosinski, starring relative newcomer Garrett Hedlund, always-amazing Jeff Bridges, and the ever-gorgeous Olivia Wilde.  Reprising his role from the original is Bruce Boxleitner, whose calm and collected nature is oppositely mirrored by Michael Sheen's dividing performance.  The original Tron is known for its then-mind-blowing visuals; it featured more than fifteen minutes of computer-generated images (quite a lot for is time).  The sequel, while not as forward-thinking as its predecessor, features some absolutely incredible and original sets and is an amazing example of how well 3D can work in a film.

The story in Tron Legacy is the first of a triumvirate of excellence that makes it one of my favorite films of the year.  Legacy picks up twenty-plus years after the original, with an M.I.A. Kevin Flynn leaving his son, Sam, to be cared for his grandparents.  Sam grows up without his father, who would tell Sam wondrous stories about the amazing things that he and his digital companions, CLU (played digitally by Bridges as well) and Tron (also played digitally by Bruce Boxleitner) accomplished within the Grid.  We learn that Sam wants little to do with Encom, stopping by once a year to prank the board of directors.  A strange page from Kevin Flynn's office at his abandoned arcade draws Sam in to investigate.  Its at this point that Sam is digitized into the Grid and main thrust of the story ensues.

The plot itself is simple; Kevin is stuck in the Grid and Sam sets out to help him return to reality.  Without giving away too much I felt that there was an very heavy Star Wars vibe throughout the film.  There were shades of various aspects of the saga, from the empire/emperor to the rebel alliance and the force.  Its this simplicity that makes Tron extremely accessible.  Avatar made over one billion dollars by having amazing visuals and a simple story.  While Tron will most likely not make as much money as Avatar, it shares those same qualities that make it quite good.  Good vs. Evil is something that everyone can get behind; there are clear heroes and villains with a very clear end goal for both parties.

The second of the three amazing aspects of Tron Legacy are the visuals.  The vast majority of the film takes place in the wondrous world that is the Grid.  The sun-less Grid is brought to life with the amazing contrast of colors exhibited in the original.  You can always tell who is good and who is evil by the color of their suits and identity discs.  Blue/green/white vs. the evil yellow/orange.  In a film that is quite dark with fast-paced fights and chases its quite easy to tell each faction apart from one another.  The aforementioned light cycle and light jet chases were quite spectacular as was the fight in Castor's (Michael Sheen) night club.  There is never a dull moment in Tron Legacy; even during action-less dialogue scenes there is always something for your eyes to ogle.  Legacy is easily one of the most visually impressive films this year and a definite treat for your eyes.

The final piece of this awesomeness puzzle is the overall sound design of the film.  The soundtrack, produced by the techno duo Daft Punk is absolutely amazing, blending orchestral and electronic together in a symphony of greatness.  The score fits the film perfectly, from Sam's evasion of the police in the beginning to the incredible techno beats thrown at us during the night club fight.  While I absolutely loved the soundtrack, at times it felt a little too Dark Knight/Inception-esque (same as Harry Potter).  Accompanying the soundtrack was the great sound design.  The sound effects throughout the film were quite spectacular, with bass so strong I could feel my pant-legs vibrating.  Major props go to the Skywalker Sound team for creating such strong sound effects to complement the stunning visuals throughout Legacy.

I feel that I must touch on the performance of the cast as well; I loved everyone in this film.  Jeff Bridges was great as the aged Kevin Flynn, with hints of "The Dude" shining through, Olivia Wilde turned a great performance going from confident bad-ass to a doe-eyed girl enamored by Sam exhibiting child-like enthusiasm.  While I quite enjoyed Garrett Hedlund as Kevin's son Sam, I can't help but feel that the effects of the film's conclusion on Sam didn't show through.  He seemed to accept what happened with little emotion.  The two performances most film goers will be discussing are Michael Sheen as Castor and the digital, young Jeff Bridges as Clu.  I personally very much enjoyed Sheen, who provides viewers with an over-the-top character that was in complete contrast to everyone else in the Grid.  Its never revealed what his program was and why he acted and talked the way he did but I loved it nonetheless.  Leading up to the film's release there was much negative buzz surrounding the digital re-creation of the young Jeff Bridges. I'd say that it worked about 90% of the time; there were only a few instances where the effect didn't really seem right.  In a couple of years I can see that technology really coming to the point at which it will be very difficult to distinguish between real and digital humans on screen.

Tron Legacy is a very exciting and stunning film in almost every aspect; your eyes dazzled by the amazing visuals, your ears pounded by the terrific soundtrack, and your mind treated to a simple good versus evil storyline with great camerawork and fast-paced action.  If you haven't seen the original it would be easy to jump in with this sequel and be perfectly fine.  I highly recommend Tron Legacy to anyone who likes fun, action-filled films with interesting characters and impressive visuals.

Tron Legacy: 4.5/5

The Bearded Bullet

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