Tron: Legacy – Review

TRON: LEGACY (2010) 

Directed by Joseph Kosinski. Starring Jeff BridgesGarrett HedlundOlivia Wilde

Before I start trashing this film the way it really deserves, I should probably admit I was never a real fan of the original. It’s the kind of film that people always seemed to admire for its technical achievement, but even as a kid I never quite got into it. In fact, dare I say, I remember thinking it was all rather boring and overly complicated. Let’s just face it, most of the fun and the enjoyment in that first film was actually watching the video-games-like sequences (and yet even those, I remember thinking even at the time, were over-edited and I couldn’t quite enjoy them fully). The rest was pretty forgettable.
Of course, back in the 80s I probably had the video games, I had the little Mattel characters, and even a notebook for school with Tron written on it… but back then, the times were different and there wasn’t much to choose from for a boy of ten like me.

Anyway, it doesn’t look like I am the only one who thinks that, since the first TRON ranks pretty low on the internet movie database and rotten tomatoes gives it an unremarkable 68% (Most of which surely has got to do with the nostalgia factor). Hence the reason why it took them almost 30 years to make a sequel.

Having said all this, I can safely say that Tron Legacy manages to stay true to the original: it’s just as complicated and confusing in its “story”, the video-games-like sequences are just as messy and over-edited as the original and the special effects want to be absolutely amazing, but actually when you really look at them closely they’re not as successful as they’re trying to make you believe.

Much has been talked about the CGI wizardry that has allowed Jeff Bridges to look 30 years younger. Well, sadly, we are still a few years away to make that trick seamless. Even in Benjamin Button the effect on Brad Pitt young just about worked, but was still the least convincing of them all. Though it will probably look just about OK once the film comes out on a DVD (not so sure about the BluRay actually), certainly on the big screen, the effect on Jeff Bridges’ face doesn’t look quite right. Human skin has always been troublesome on GCI and this film proves it again. The result is a weird plastic feel that actually reduces his real facial expression. One of my readers said it made him look like “prince charming” from the Shrek movies, which I think it hits the nail right on the head!! Interestingly it seemed to work better in the scenes which were masked  and filtered through a TV screen (as if they were part of archive footage), which proves that even the makers were quite aware of the limitations.

The film is quite a visual feast for the eye, as special effects and production design fight for attention in every single frame of the film , but it’s all so hyper-real and over-blown that, to be honest, I found it hard to be swept away by any of it. I do recognize some of its value (which is why I am giving it 5 stars and not 2 stars), but all this visual extravaganza cannot make up for the lack of  any clear and interesting storytelling. And this is, at the end of the day, the most important factor in a film, any film, whether it’s an action piece or a drama, or a cartoon.: you’ve got to like the story! You’ve got to sympathize with the characters or at least be interested in them. In the case of Tron:Legacy  I was pretty confused all the way through (but sadly not in a “Inception” sort of confusion where, being confused is part of the fun. This was just confusing because it was badly told!).

I am not really sure who is this film for? Fans of the first one? Well, there are not too many out there.

Is it a film for kids? Don’t think so: they would certainly get lost in the mambo-jumbo story.

Is it a film for video-games lovers? Probably, though I can name hundreds of much more exciting games to play.

Is it a film for girls in love with Garrett Hedlund? Well, there’s plenty of him in here and he does an OK job with the material he’s given, but to be honest that’s not a good enough reason for watching this film.

Is it a film for geeks or special effects lovers? Well, I am one of those, and I can tell you that I wasn’t really taken by any it. It all may look slick and stylish and it’s all just an upgraded version of the previous film, with very little originality.

Even the action sequences seemed just a modern version of the previous ones, with some added 3D Fx. Ah yes, I was almost forgetting the 3D factor. Right at the beginning some weird caption tells you that some of the scenes are supposed to look 2D and that you should keep your 3D glasses on all the time. What it actually means is that the 3D only kicks in once the main characters enters the virtual world of video-games (quite a bad choice if you ask me, especially because it misses quite a few opportunities in the first part of the film to make the action a bit more exciting). Once we finally get to “virtual world” or cyber-word or whatever you wanna call it, after the first few minutes you’re in 3D you actually almost forget you’re watching it in 3D (I say almost because the headache that the 3D glasses give you is still there).  I was so surprised by how badly the 3D is used on this film. Even the flying sequences didn’t seem to draw me in  ( and those are notoriously good on 3D, see Avatar and even the awful Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole). Am I alone on this one? I usually love 3D… I seem to remember the motorbike sequences on the first Tron being a lot more exciting than in this (or is it because I was 10 at the time?).

On the acting side of things (and I am aware that one doesn’t really go and see Tron for the acting), Jeff Bridges in his older self (not the plastic young version) seems a little bit embarrassed to be in this film, in a mixture of the Dude and a Jedi knight… And talking about Star Wars, not only Jeff Bridges dresses like a Jedi and the special effects are sometimes reminiscent of the Attack of the Clones,  but even the main protagonist, Garrett Hedlund looks a bit like Hayden Christensen.And finally  Michael Sheen, is now the parody of himself and doesn’t seem to have any more regard for choosing whatever part in whatever film as long as he gets paid (well, who could blame him? I’d probably do the same).

So, to wrap it all up: the story is a mess, the script if basically riddled with clichés, bad lines and jokes that are so poorly timed and unfunny that in the screening where I was NOBODY laughed, and finally the visual effects are so unreal and overblown that they fail to amaze.

One the positive side, the soundtrack is awesome. Nothing new, of course, it sounds a lot like Batman, Inception and the Bourne films, but it’s still pretty good (though there was probably too much music throughout).

I was ready to love this one, we so need a new sci-fi film to take the crown, but I was really disappointed at this revamped TRON and actually even a bit bored. Sorry Disney

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23 Responses to Tron: Legacy – Review

  1. Marshall says:

    How did you already see it?!!

    • moviegeek says:

      A preview screening a few days ago. I held on my review until I could see others on the net, then when I read the Ain’t it Cool news loved it, I just couldn’t hold it in anymore.

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  3. blue says:

    Dude seriously your why most of the public hate reviewers, all negative, you suck balls, u really really do

    • moviegeek says:

      Believe me, I really wanted to like this one. Tron has been part of my childhood and I cherish every chance to go back being a child with some inventive, fresh and new movie.
      Sadly, Tron: Legacy wasn’t the one. It was a messy, confusing overblown film which couldn’t get me engaged at any moment. I didn’t laugh or cry or even found myself lost in wonder at the sight of any the visual effects. If that makes me “suck balls”, then so be it. I’m happy to love movies, that’s why I go to the cinema, to loose myself and love what I see. Unfortunately that doesn’t always happen. However if you read through the blog I did like quite a few films, from Toy Story 3, to Back to the Future, from Black Swan to the latest “Blue Valentine” and “The Fighter”, which is probably in my top 10 film of the Year.
      However I am just one person and a film can be a subjective experience: other views are allowed and welcome.

      • Erika says:

        Good answer moviegeek
        I have been reading most of your reviews and I seem to agree with a lot of them and I don’t think you are being over-negative.
        As far as this new TRON movie is concerned, even the trailer leaves me quite cold, so I am not surprised to hear that it sucks.
        Good blog by the way.

  4. Camille says:

    I agree with you moviegeek
    I saw the movie a few days ago too and had your exact same resonse to it

  5. alwaysbwithu says:

    interesting take on it :) I can see what you mean actually. Very balanced though process. Definitely subscribing to you. check out my review and let me know what you think!
    x

    • moviegeek says:

      Thanks,
      There are some new reviews on their way this week. Next in line is “the way back” and “true grit”

  6. Core Ruler says:

    I’ve been getting bad vibes from the preview. Thought the original Comic Con teaser from 2008 was great, and kept holding out hope that they’d capture the same sense of mystery and intrigue.

    This Kosinski guy probably shouldn’t have been the director. I suspect he was hired on by Disney so they could have someone at the helm that they could control. Kosinski doesn’t have the support-base to stand up to the suits. (Its an old story with these big budget tentpole films. Even Stanley Kubrick was given Spartacus because the studio thought he’d be a push-over. Heh.)

    • moviegeek says:

      Thanks for the comment.
      I heard a Q&A with the director the day I saw the film. He sounded quite enthusiastic about the whole film, but it’s interesting how he always spoke in plural “we decided”, “we did this, we this that”. Yes, true. Film-making is a collaborative effort, but did he actually make any decision? Or was he just a puppet in the hands of Disney?

  7. farhanahizani says:

    I am glad you gave me the link to your review! Now I know why I wasn’t even attracted to the trailer. Thanks! And nice blog..!

  8. Frankynov says:

    Thanks for this very complete review !

    It’s gonna be out in February in Belgium :/
    I have to say I quite liked the original and I’ll see this “remake”.
    But I certainly won’t see it in 3D, it makes me VERY painful.
    Let’s also hope the dubbing in French will give another boost to the movie !

    Best regards,

    François

  9. Dan Zen says:

    Ping forward: http://danzen.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/tron-in-defense-of-the-tron-legacy-story/

    Long live TRON

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  11. Phill says:

    Despite enjoying this film, whenever I talk to people about it, it’s in the same way I talk about Avatar – another film I enjoyed. All I end up doing is listing the many things about the film that are BAD. I seem to have made too big a habit this year of thoroughly enjoying terrible films!

    (oh yes, I’m sure you’ll work it out, but you commented on my personal blog about Four Lions, whereas my comments link to my music blog)

    Cheers
    Phill

    • moviegeek says:

      It usually happens to me too: I love films that other people hate and viceversa.. However there’s absolutely no comparasion between Tron and Avatar. With all its (many) faults Avatar had a lot more heart and spectacle than “Tron:legacy” couldn’t even dream of having. It’s easy to dismiss a film like Avatar as utter tosh, but if a movie makes 2.7 billion dollars at the box office alone, I think we should all aknowloedge its power over people and take our hats off to Mr Cameron.
      Avatar, for better or worse will be remember in cinema history. I doubt Tron2 will have the same faith. It might be lucky if people can still remember it in about 5 years.

  12. Marquel says:

    It’s not that the Movie was “Too Complicated” its just that your TOO foolish to understand….Critics like you ruin amazing movies. Why dont you try making a movie and let us judge it hmm,. Pay attention and you’ll understand/ Simpleton

    • moviegeek says:

      Well, believe it or not I do make movies too: documentaries mainly… And “clarity” is always the rule numer one.. especially on a film which is supposed to be a blockbuster/action/sci-fi.
      I guess we’re all entitled to our own opinions. Mine on this film was that for all the money up on that screen and all those bangs and flashes it was actually a pretty boring experience. It’s interesting to notice that at least 70% of the reviews I’ve read after mine (which was actually written way before everybody else) seemed to agree with my points.
      Incidentally I have nothing against “complicated” movies. I love “Memento”, “Inception”, “Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind”, the West Wing is my ultimate favorite TV series and I could go on mentioning other “slighly complicated stories” forever, but “Tron2″ was unnecessarily messy in its pace and costruction and ultimately emotionally flat. Sorry.. I wish I liked it more than I did… and I did try, but it just did’t work on me.
      Also, I am not a critic. I’m just another member of the audience like anyone else who’s reacting to a disappointing film.

  13. Gianni says:

    Movie Geek, I 100% agree with you! And to anyone, esp. don’t waste the money for the 3D version, it’s a total dud!

    • moviegeek says:

      Thanks for that. Good to know that I am not alone in thinking that the film was a bit of waste of time and money.

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