We can probably file this one under “Too little, too late”, but we’re gonna go ahead and do it, anyway. Why? Because there’s a chance that some of you have been holding out on buying a ticket for Tron: Legacy, and we’d like to stop you from doing so if there’s still time. Is Disney’s Tron: Legacy the worst movie of the year? No, far from it. Turns out, Joseph Kasinski’s film is just the prettiest trainwreck you’ll ever see. Read on for our snarky little review of Tron: Legacy, my gentle Examiner readers…
The reviews for Joseph Kasinski’s Tron: Legacy have been more or less up-the-middle, but the majority of critics that I like to read (Devin Faraci of Badass Digest, Roger Ebert, and HitFix’s Drew McWeeny among them) gave the film a big, sloppy thumbs-down. As such, I walked into the film (about a month after this review would’ve been relevant–sue me) with absolutely zero expectations.
I didn’t expect to like the film, and on the way to the theater, I found myself daydreaming about all the other things I could’ve spent that $15 on. Groceries, or gasoline, or a couple packs of cigarettes. This kind of thinking is a direct response to having paid actual money to see Faster, a clear-cut case of “I should’ve known better” if there ever was one. Was I making the same mistake again, just a little over a month later?
Not quite. On the one hand, Tron: Legacy suffers from some truly stupid plot problems (oh, yes: we’ll be getting to those in a minute, make no mistake) and doesn’t seem interested in anything beyond setting up a new franchise for the Maus Haus. On the other hand, Tron: Legacy is damned pretty to look at, and I’ve certainly seen worse 3D effects and CGI (M. Night Shyamalan still resides in Comedy Examiner Movie Jail). So, what’s the bottom line?
You read it in the headline. Tron: Legacy is the best-looking trainwreck you’re ever going to see, so if you’re the kind of moviegoer that says things like, “I don’t care about the writing; I just wanna turn my brain off at the door”, you’ll get your money’s worth. If, however, you’re the kinda cat that openly discusses your love of documentaries and you go to some films based entirely upon who wrote or directed ’em…well, Tron: Legacy probably isn’t for you. You may tolerate it, but you better walk in that door with your expectations slung as low as I did.
The film begins with a long, ambling prologue of sorts. I say “of sorts” because this isn’t a prologue in the strictest terms. In most cases, a prologue establishes themes, character, or otherwise relevant information for the story that follows. In Tron: Legacy, the “prologue” is an extended, 20-25 minute sequence involving Sam Flynn (Garret Hedlund, who is almost as dynamic in Tron: Legacy as the paint currently drying on the walls of my garage) that is packed full of unnecessary information, characters, and actions.
Sam is the biggest shareholder of Encom, the company his father– played by Jeff Bridges and referred to throughout as “Flynn”, though I’m almost positive his name isn’t “Flynn Flynn”– created before disappearing 20 years prior. He likes to play elaborate practical jokes on the company and its board of directors, and in this opening sequence Sam breaks into the Encom home offices, uploads a video of his dog onto the office’s hard-drives, and then base-jumps off the top of Encom Tower. With the possible exception of showing us that Sam is capable of physical stunts, this 20-25 minutes acts as a whole lotta bullsh-t to slog through in order to get Sam into the Tron world. It feels like it goes on for weeks.
Once Sam is in the Tron world, things pick up a little as we gawk at all the pretty lights and ridiculously– and I mean ridiculously— hot women who populate this universe. Within moments, Sam gets forced into The Games (which we gather is basically the Special Olympics in Tron world: how else to explain the fact that he’s able to stomp out all other competitors despite never having practiced the games at hand?), and when that sequence is finished, he meets up with his father to get a dose of exposition.
This happens a lot in Tron: Legacy, and it’s here that I’ll abandon the plot summary. In Tron: Legacy, characters engage in action– a fight, or a race, or a Frisbee tournament– and then wander into the next scene, where another character will dump an enormous amount of exposition in their laps. From there, some combination of the lead characters will move on to another action-heavy sequence (each less impressive than the one that came before), then another exposition dump. Wash, rinse, repeat. It goes on like this for the entire movie– the majority of which revolves around a trio of characters trying to go from “here” to “there” in order to press a button– and then… it’s over.
My second-biggest problem with the film was the geography of the Tron world: where the hell is everything in relation to one another? Are the Games taking place in the Grid’s main city? How big is that arena, anyway? Where is the Portal in relation to Flynn’s little cottage-in-the-mountainside (which looks suspiciously like Dave Bowman’s final resting place from 2001: A Space Odyssey)? Seemed like it took a really long time to get there. How big is this place? Why is there water in it? We never get a firm grasp of where things are in relation to one another or why they’re there, and this just adds to the confusion that you’re already feeling about all that garbled exposition.
But my biggest problem with Tron: Legacy was the logic. This is the kinda film where a character might be introduced as all-powerful, all-knowing, and able to bend the world around him to his very will…but where the character almost never does so. This is also the kind of film where major plot points– like the whole thing with the ISO’s– will be introduced as incredibly important…but where we’ll never be told why they’re so important, or how. It’s just not big on little things like logic and reason, so there will almost certainly be moments where you, sitting in the audience, will think, “Wait, what now? How does that make any sense?”
You will not be told how “that” makes any sense. They’re saving that for the rest of the trilogy, apparently.
Look, I’ve just spent a whole bunch of paragraphs ranting and raving about how crappy Tron: Legacy‘s script is– and it is– but it’s also a decently fun movie to watch, and the special effects are marginally interesting. I don’t feel like the film needed to be in 3D (I would’ve traded every 3D effect for a brighter, 2D version of Tron: Legacy in a heartbeat), and I don’t think that it’s worth paying full price for (and certainly not worth owning once it hits Blu-ray…unless you’re looking for a “demo disc” to show off your system), but it’s reasonably entertaining in a brainless, illogical, pretty way. You won’t be compelled to spend a moment thinking about it once you leave the theater, but you might find yourself vaguely entertained while it’s happening in front of you.
My grade? C-.
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