Nate watches “Tron Legacy”

First, what I know you’re wondering about:

Yes, the movie is worth seeing in 3D, but I’d go at matinee.

Before seeing it, I suggest you watch the first Tron movie as your feelings about it will most likely reflect your feelings toward this one.  The special effects have improved, the writing, acting, etc are the same.  The movie’s cinematic junk food, but it’s VERY good junk food.

Spoiler talk below:

Actually, this shouldn’t even be marked as spoilers as anyone who’s seen a movie before should be able to guess how things will go.

However… the two movies aren’t exactly alike.  This one just had no tension in it.  The first movie had a very clear threat and drama and both were very clear and understandable.  In a bit of (I think) unintentional subtlety, the conflict in the real world is of minor importance to those involved while that in the virtual world is of great importance to those involved.

In Tron: Legacy, there is no drama in the real world (I don’t count any a character makes for him/herself) and the threat in the virtual world is so ill-defined that once it is finally revealed, you feel more relieved than horrified.  The villain in the first actually felt and seemed evil (we got to see him do bad things), but in this one?  We don’t really see him do anything that the heroes don’t do.  We’re told about some bad things he’s done, but without being shown them there is no impact.  Worse, the stakes of the McGuffin is very ill-defined.  What do I mean?  Well in Lord of the Rings, it’s pretty clear that if Sauron gets the One Ring, he’ll mind rape everyone into involuntary slavery – and that’s the good ending.  In this, what happens if the villain gets Jeff Bridges’ frisbee?  I can’t tell you because every scenario I could think of should apply to Garrett Hedlund’s frisbee too.

The last complaint is that there’s two other characters which have major reveals in this movie… and it fails.  The reveal about the truth about Olivia Wilde’s character fails because the audience has no reference point for her.  If I said, “One of the Examples will change everything.  See Olivia?  She’s an example!” you would find the statement meaningless.  We didn’t need exposition about what she was, we needed more reactions to it, especially from Garrett Hedlund. (probably one of his biggest failings as an actor in this movie is that there are times he doesn’t give us any clues about how we should react or feel – YOU’RE AN AUDIENCE SURROGATE – just like Jeff Bridges in the first Tron, see how he did it?)  The reveal about another character’s true identity was pretty good but it needed to be more over the top – a ripping off of his face-obscuring helmet at least.

So, was there anything good?  Lots.  I enjoyed the make up effects and the way that after awhile, you could pick out virtual people from real people at a glance.  Some have brought up the “young Jeff Bridges” (YJB) special effect.  I didn’t mind it so much except I wish they had done two different effects.  The CGI:YJB worked VERY well for virtual Jeff Bridges.  However, for the flashbacks of the real-world YJB in the past, they really should have worked with makeup and kept the CGI to a minimum.

Speaking of Jeff Bridges, I have to say that I think he did a better Neo or Yoda than the Matrix sequels or Star Wars prequels did of either.  A buddy of mine who was with me said he was hoping Jeff would “cut loose” and “kick ass” but the point of his character is that by now he doesn’t have to.  He is a user, he is a god.  By now, his “cutting loose” isn’t slapping you around but ending the fight before you’ve even thought about harming him – curbstomping you without lifting a finger.

Speaking of gods, there is some religiousness to this movie, but of a very basic, simplistic kind.  You won’t get any deep, theological truths from this movie, but preachers can draw a few sermon launch points from it.  After all, Jeff Bridges comes off as the joyful, hands-off god that seems familiar to Christians, while Clu becomes a legalistic follower, worried more about the letter of god’s words than the spirit (Pharisees any one?).  Like I said, nothing too deep.

So, if you’re interested in seeing it, definitely catch it in 3D before it leaves theaters.  Sit back, relax, and enjoy.

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