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Tron: Legacy: Biodigital Jazz, But It Won’t Use Up Your Memory

While the new Tron is an obvious improvement over the first– which aged very poorly, by the way– it suffers from the same general problem the first has: it’s so silly that it’s hard to take seriously. The new Tron has some very sleek visuals and beautifully staged action, but it rarely takes the time to wink at you and acknowledge that this movie should be fun. Some supporting roles are compelling and manage to make the movie’s plot enjoyable, but if the movie had given its lead role more to do than recite the usual action hero stale one-liners, we might’ve had a real winner on our hand. The improved action makes it worthwhile, but the silly plot scenes show it’s nothing more than a (computer) chip off the old block.

I’m going to do my best to describe the plot… but it’s very difficult to understand since it makes no logical sense. We pick up shortly after the first film, where Kevin Flynn (a younger Jeff Bridges, done by digital effects) is on the breakthrough of a major discovery. He tells his son Sam about The Grid, the world inside the computer into which he can transport himself, and promises to take him one day. Then, out of the blue, Flynn disappears. Flash forward twenty years– Sam (Garret Hedlund) is the majority shareholder of his dad’s business, but the powers-that-be want to jack up prices and Sam doesn’t feel like getting involved. His dad’s friend Alan (Bruce Boxleitner, reprising his role) gets a page from Flynn Arcade, which has been out of commission for two decades. Sam goes to investigate– and ends up on The Grid.

There, on the Grid, he finds himself subjugated to deadly games, all similar to the first, including tossing a glowing Frisbee and riding around on light cycles. He comes to discover the man in charge is Clu (the younger Jeff Bridges again), a program his father wrote and designed in his own image… or something. Clu is looking for Kevin for his own nefarious purposes. Sam is rescued by Quorra (Olivia Wilde), who takes him to see Kevin (present-day Jeff Bridges). He explains that the Grid had created isomorphic algorithms, an entire new race of Grid People, which had the potential to unlock the mysteries of science. Clu thought they were imperfect programs and destroyed them in The Purge (“a genocide”, according to Kevin). Now the portal back to Earth is closing rapidly, and Clu needs Kevin’s identity disc to make it to Earth. Once there, he can take over the world… or something.

Look, the plot boils down to: they need to escape. The clock is ticking. Bad guy also wants to escape but needs something the good guy has. A race towards the Portal commences. If you try to think too much about the plot of the film, you will literally lose your mind. For example, why is there lightning and bad weather inside the computer? How come Sam bleeds, but humans don’t get killed, they get “de-rezzed” like programs do? The whole matter of the algorithms suddenly appearing by marching into the Grid like the Israelites into the Promised Land is a rather comical moment, as is all of the hubbub about the identity discs– which also serve as killer Frisbees, which you can throw at people and they’ll come back, but if someone grabs it from you, it won’t go automatically back. Ironically, in a film about artificial intelligence, you mustn’t use yours if you want to enjoy the proceedings.

Some of the action is spectacular, however. First-time director Joseph Kosinski has an unbelievable vision for this world, and he definitely knows how to shoot a thrilling chase sequence. Sequences with light cycles and then later light jets rank among the most exciting of the year. Jeff Bridges does a fun riff on his own personality, saying “man” and “dude” a lot. The technology to create young Bridges is sometimes truly extraordinary… except when the mouth moves. Computer animators have yet to fully replicate the subtlety of mouth movement accurately, so while when Clu smiles I’m blown away, I’m taken out of the moment when he speaks. Other supporting characters, such as James Frain as Clu’s lackey who desires approval, and Michael Sheen as Castor, a Kubrickesque egotistical club owner, have fun with their roles and give them computer programs personality– don’t think about the logic, just move along. It’s a shame that Sam isn’t given more to do than say trademark action hero one-liners: “That’s what I’m talkin’ about!” “We’ve got to stay together!” and so on. Both Hedlund and Wilde are pretty to look at, but fail to provide any further personality or substance. Tron: Legacy is pretty to look at too, and it provides some good fun… just don’t think about it, or it might cause a short circuit.

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~ by russellhainline on December 23, 2010.

One Response to “Tron: Legacy: Biodigital Jazz, But It Won’t Use Up Your Memory”

  1. […] 127 Hours 9. Anton Sanko, Rabbit Hole 8. Nigel Godrich, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World 7. Daft Punk, Tron: Legacy 6. Michael Giacchino, Let Me In 5. Hans Zimmer, Inception 4. John Powell, How To Train Your Dragon […]

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