REVIEW: Tron: Legacy
The 3-D visual feast of the year hits box offices...
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It's been tough not to post anything about Tron: Legacy for the past 11 days. After all, we were privy to a special "press only" screening well over a week ago here in St. Louis; however, a review embargo placed on us has held our tongues hostage much in the same fashion as Clu holding Kevin Flynn hostage on the grid in this year's eye-candy film, Tron: Legacy.
Where to begin...
First let me say I'm not a die-hard fan of the original cult-classic Tron. Sure, I've seen it a number of times and sure back when I was 6 years old I thought there'd be nothing cooler than to ride a light cycle and run the grid with the likes of Tron and Flynn. Now, 28 years later, those dreams have been dashed upon the florescent landscapes of the arena and de-rezzed in order to form a more perfect and spectacular vision brought to life by director Joseph Kosinski.
My old dreams have been replaced by the likes of 5-on-5 light cycle chases with Sam Flynn (Sam Flynn) by my side, jet fighter battles in which Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) and I lace the sky with light beams and laser fire, the best grid fighter - Rinzler (Anis Cheurfa) - and I try to destroy one another in arenas which spin up-side down and inside out, and the beautiful Quorra (Olivia Wilde) takes me off-roading where Clu and his evil henchmen will never find us.
A much more refined and beautiful landscape the likes of which none of us has ever seen, Tron: Legacy truly makes for a visual feast and delivers "the grid" in ways none of us could ever have imagined. Simply put; you haven't seen a more visually impressive film this year...and maybe even ever.
The world of Tron: Legacy boldly, brilliantly and beautifully brings to life the original world of Tron created back in 1982 using modern day technology. This is "the grid" as we've always dreamed it to be. In stark contrast to the real world in which we go about our daily activities with little to no order or understanding, the grid is a precise work of engineering in which every program and piece plays its role perfectly.
It's this perfection and the need for imperfection which fuels this film's story. Unfortunately, where the visuals of Tron: Legacy are light years beyond what the original brought to bear, the story and script sadly disappoint. While the original Tron challenged audiences, warning us of our evolving technology and the need to be wary of our own devices; this new movie instead attempts to pull at the heart strings; delivering a story of reconciliation between father and son, programmer and program, creator and creation. While I believe the attempt to be genuine, Tron: Legacy's story sadly seems, at the best of times, formalistic and, at the worst of times, contrived. The plot sadly seems to have taken a back seat to the film's visuals, leaving viewers to soak up gorgeous optical bliss while having to gag on a story that's been attempted, done, and done better countless times before.
This isn't to say the film isn't worth seeing. Quite the contrary. The visuals alone are well worth the price of admission. And, if you're doing better than most of us and can fork over the $18 to see the film in 3-D, it's even better. That said, don't expect the story to change your life. It might seem original and impressive if you've never seen Star Wars, Star Trek or any other sci-fi film in which a young man sets out on a journey, faces treacherous labors, harsh challenges and both physical and emotional obstacles only to overcome all and become the better, stronger man he and others knew he could be.
Truth be told, the film's story does include interesting takes on the morality behind creation, destruction and the need for both perfection and imperfection, though none of these ever really take root enough to draw our focus. Instead, the movie's impressive visual glory takes center stage. It's the cutting edge CGI, gorgeous battles, and illustrious action sequences you'll be talking about long after you've forgotten what the story to Tron: Legacy was all about.
An entertaining foray into a world created almost 3 decades ago with decent acting and by far the best visual effects of any movie this year, Tron: Legacy opens today in theaters across America and is rated PG for sequences of sci-fi action violence and brief mild language.
"Until next time...have FUN with your figures!!"
Jess C. Horsley