Tron Legacy
No, really! This is CGI! I don’t actually look like this!


Theatrical Release Date: 12/17/2010
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Cast: Garrett Hedlund, Jeff Bridges, Olivia Wilde, Michael Sheen, Bruce Boxleitner, Beau Garrett



Golden Mug2010 Golden Mug

NOMINEE:
Best Score (Daft Punk)


Trailer:

TRON: The Airport Tower

There are a lot of people hoping that “TRON: Legacy” will be the bees knees. The trailer is showy, Daft Punk did the music, and they’re promising phenomenal 3D.

Well, as much as people may hope that I’m just being a spoil sport, they should have titled this “TRON: A New Hope … That Disney Can Rake In All Your Cash” because it would have been far more appropriate.

Now, the music is fantastic. If you want to close your eyes inside a movie theater, this is one of the few films to do that to. There are plenty of slow spots, as characters attempt to philosophize on consciousness, the digital age, and father/son relationships. Without the electronic beats underneath much of the film, the 127 minute running time would have been that much harder to sit through.

Another bright spot for the film is the slick production design. The world inside the computer is like the most expensive IKEA compilation but it works. And as for costumes, let’s face it, tight black suits on attractive people works (How do you think I can manage to enjoy “Underworld”?). Adding in complimentary neon colors makes it look quasi-futuristic and ties into the nostalgia of the original.

Almost the last bit of positivity I can throw the film’s way is that the leads, Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde, gave good performances based on what they were asked to do and I can stare at Ms. Wilde all day so that doesn’t hurt either (especially because she’s in a tight black suit the whole time).

Of course, when it comes to actors, the key to all of this is Jeff Bridges, reprising his role from 1982′s “TRON”. Sadly, this is a complete mess and perhaps getting a director more experienced in working with actors would have helped (this is Joseph Kosinski’s first film and his second will be the remake of “The Black Hole” … Disney is sure milking their cult properties).

Now, I can’t fault Bridges for the creepy and practically ineffective CGI used to make him look 30 years younger. While I wasn’t expecting perfection, I was hoping the early looks at him in the trailers were unfinished; but alas, what we’re shown is a creation no better than the work done on 2001′s “FInal Fantasy: The Spirits Within”. Seriously, whoever worked on that may want to make sure some of their computer code wasn’t “appropriated” for use here. A decent makeup job would have been a whole lot more effective.

So while I give him a pass on the aesthetics, or lack thereof, for his doppelganger, I go back to the point about possibly needing a firmer hand behind the camera. What Bridges does with the live-action section of the role comes straight out of “The Big Lebowski” and someone should have told him to try something different. It was so similar that they might as well have thrown in a joke about how his light cycle really tied the whole room together. I love ‘The Dude’ … but this film is supposedly about an entirely different character. There I go again, wanting good actors to make smart choices; I’m so demanding.

More problems arise when it comes to the plot development and certain vehicle/weapon designs. Apparently, since Skywalker Studios was helping with the sound design, at least a dozen references to “Star Wars” are made and very few of them are even close to subtle. Whether it’s Hedlund being sent to the turrets of a flyer to take out approaching enemies (in X-Wing like contraptions), or villains utilizing dual lightsabers, or Bridges stalking around a giant hanger in an Obi Wan hoodie, much of the film felt like the folks working on the film were more concerned with making these connections to a series they loved as kids than creating more original elements for people to marvel at in this big budget attempt to revive a franchise.

Now one more issue pops up when taking in the film’s effectiveness as a whole and it appears to be an unintentional reason for how entertaining the experience is. I’m talking about how easily mocked the characters and events are. I’m not joking when saying I laughed more AT this film than any other film in 2010. In fact, I’d be completely okay if Disney wanted to quote me in saying that ” ‘TRON: Legacy’ is the best comedy of the year” (though I’m not holding my breath on this and that’s really only true if you have a friend with you who will help make fun of the similarities to other sci-fi films and bits of dialogue so wooden you’d think George Lucas wrote the script).

Perhaps the closest thing approaching intentional humor stems from Michael Sheen’s involvement. As our protagonist is attempting to get information and safe passage, he turns to Sheen – who just happens to be playing an even more delightfully effeminate, cane wielding egotist than his role in “Twilight: New Moon“.

At one point, (in which the real Daft Punk are cast as DJs at his club), Hedlund, Wilde, and some thugs do battle while Sheen prances, dances and swings his cane with such glee that it makes for one of the funniest sequences all year. He’s chewing up scenery like a starving goat led to pasture but it sure helped pick up the energy of the film and may be worth adding this to your rental queue solely for that one section.

The last thing to mention, of course, is how effective the 3D is. It’s not … and before you go moaning about how harsh I am regarding the 3D craze, think about this: Prior to the beginning of the film, there’s a disclaimer put on screen telling the audience that while some scenes were shot in the third dimension, much of the film was shot in 2D … in my opinion, this is their way of absolving any guilt over the ineffectiveness of their work.

I was flipping my glasses on and off during the film and, aside from a few elements being blurry because of the nature of how it works, I didn’t notice any changes in depth perception. They shoot a few grappling hooks at the audience but even those feel more 3D simply by becoming larger on-screen, not so much because they appear to be any closer.

Still, despite all of its flaws (or maybe because of them), I still found a way to enjoy my time stuck in an uncomfortable theater seat, marveling at all the bright lights and shiny objects, so I’m giving “TRON: Legacy” a 3 out of 5. I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard once the credits rolled since “Van Helsing” (since I try not to ruin other people’s experiences during the film) but without Daft Punk’s compositions, this might have been more like getting work done at the dentist’s office and only because of their music does the long, drawn out nature of the film feel just a tick quicker.

Though remember, if you must go out and see this, save the cash and find it in 2D; while many of the CGI created designs are cool to look at, no one should kid themselves and think anything past the revamped Disney castle logo is even remotely interesting from a three dimensional perspective. What’s supposed to be a jaw-dropping, special effects bonanza is simply a hodgepodge of classic science fiction, repackaged in the quest to part you from the contents of your wallet.

3 out of 53D No