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Home » Culture and Criticism

TRON: Legacy

Submitted by on January 29, 2011 – 3:02 PM17 Comments

Death Race 42, Sarah 14; 1 of 24 categories completed

You can't come at a movie like TRON: Legacy with qualitative adjectives — or at least I can't. I've never seen the original in its entirety, and don't care to, no matter how many critics try to revise history by calling the 1982 film "misunderstood" in their reviews of the sequel, as if the presence of Jeff Bridges somehow makes it the Tuckermobile, so ahead of its time that its doom was sure. Maybe that's true; maybe they just enjoyed a piece of the culture that most other people think is a suckfest. It happens.

But as I said, it's hard for me to call TRON: Legacy a suckfest, because it's not aimed at me, so instead I sort of have to gauge whether it succeeds at what it sets out to do — and it does. It's got arresting visuals; it calls back the original; it answers questions that seem to have needed answers; the acting is, under the circumstances, decent. (Well, Michael Sheen's David Fauxwie is not my favorite, but that's probably baked into the "writing.")

It's a bar movie, the kind of thing you put on the flat screen in your East Village pub so that people have something to look at if they don't want to look at each other — like Rumblefish or Koyaanisqatsi — and as that, it's fine. As a movie-watching experience, narratively, it's boring and swollen with self-regard. The reverse-aging CGI they did on Bridges is neat in theory, but in practice makes Clu look like Breckin Meyer. It's nominated for Sound Editing, which no doubt posed a huge challenge (apparently post-production took 16 months), and I don't know if it wins, but if you like CGI eye candy, man candy (Garrett Hedlund is pretty cute), Daft Punk, and/or closure on the first one, go for it. If you don't care about those things, wait 'til it's on over the bar.

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17 Comments »

  • suzy says:

    whoa, you're gonna piss off some TRON fans (they are a rabid bunch! I'm married to one). But AGREE.

  • Scarlettb says:

    BRECKIN MEYER! Yes! That is who Bridges kept reminding me of! (I will say that the CGI de-ageing was way less Uncanny Valley Trigger than I had feared.)

  • Allie says:

    I've never made it through the first one because blue screens put me to sleep. I think I've seen ten minutes of it, tops, but that might be overreaching.

  • Gralnger says:

    I liked it. I could definitely see how people wouldn't like it, and I wouldn't blame them at all for not liking it. But…I liked it. I liked the visuals, I liked the sound, and I could kind of feel the things that the story was trying to make me feel.

    Although, to be honest, I'd probably have gotten at least 66% as much enjoyment out of just buying the soundtrack and watching the trailers four or five times each.

  • Gralnger says:

    Oh, PS: Why the fuck do people living inside a computer need to eat a PIG?

  • Gralnger says:

    Actually–sorry for the comment spam here, I keep thinking of things–I kept flashing back to my experience watching "Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow". I had the same feeling of "this is fun to watch but I keep waiting for the movie to tell me to Press B To Continue".

  • Mike says:

    You know, I really wanted to see this when it was announced. I wasn't a big fan of the original, but I was square in the middle of it's target audience. I thought with all the new technology this movie could be great, but once it was released all I heard was how great it looked. That's it. I have since added it to my DVD queue and will watch it at home whole I'm doing doing something else and watch the cool effects.

    Who knows, maybe I'll love it. Maybe I should make sure I have some beer in the house.

  • Merideth says:

    I took my husband to see this as a holiday gift (he's a geek, what do you want).

    All I could think was: "I bet this movie is a lot better if your high."

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    I liked Jeff Bridges' performances, and really, really enjoyed the Jedi Knight/Ninja action lightup loungewear outfit with the glowing hems that made him very, very attractive. And I didn't mind the CGI de-aging so much, because Clu is supposed to be a computer program, with looks literally frozen in time, so for me it actually really worked for the character (although my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed picturing Bruce Boxlietner kicking sets and grumbling about how HE didn't get any Eerie Young Thing process done on HIS face, and he's TRON, DAMNIT!)

    One thing I will recommend–for the love of God, don't see it in
    3-D. You'd think something like Tron, for God's sake, would be the movie that was meant to be 3-D, but it's not. The whole movie's shot in the dark (it's either night in the real world or a constant overhead pitch black in the digital world) and the glasses filter out what little light there is, leaving would be majestic vistas as little more than brownish, washed out smudges. And the action doesn't need the effect either–not one action scene was any better because a motorcycle wheel was aimed towards the audience for a split second.

    I liked Olivia Wilde, she and Bridges had great "teacher-student" chemistry with no creepy undertones.

  • Tara says:

    @Merideth

    It was.

  • Scarlettb says:

    @Tara – I was just about to say the same thing! The only caveat is that I ate a RIDICULOUS amount of popcorn during it as a result.

  • Louisa says:

    When he first became semi-famous, somehow my family unanimously and whole-heartedly rejected the name "Breckin Meyer" as plausible. So we've always called him Jeff Breckinmeyer. So when I see it, it STILL looks implausible.

  • Trish says:

    @Merideth: That is pretty much exactly what Roger Ebert said in his review. "I can't *encourage* you to smoke up before seeing it, but …"

    I find it strange that it's nominated for Sound Editing, because when I saw it, the sound was one of my big complaints. The dialogue is often drowned out. And some scenes look like they were cut in a blender.

  • HollyH says:

    As someone who liked the original, both at the time, and upon rewatching relatively recently — I wouldn't classify myself as a rabid "fan", but I certainly feel fondness and nostalgia for it — my verdict looking back at the original, or looking at it with modern eyes, is that it's campy fun despite having the pacing of plate tectonics. Which is to say, my fondness for it doesn't blind me to its flaws or make me want to build it up into something it isn't, and never was ("misunderstood"? what?). So, no ire from this TRON fan.

    (I enjoyed the experience of watching this sequel, although in conclusion, I wouldn't say that the sequel did everything I wanted it to do, as a sequel. It was enjoyable enough and pretty, but it didn't rock my world. That's okay.)

  • LLyzabeth says:

    Gotta say it for the record: I am NOT a Daft Punk fan. But I thought the soundtrack was AWESOME. Probably has something to do with getting the London Symphony Orchestra to do the recording. And it was actually orchestrated by Joseph Trapanese, who I've never heard of but I will totally be following from now on. It comes out sounding part Blade Runner, part Inception, and part Terminator, but still original.

    Right, enough music-geek-gasm. The soundtrack rocked.

  • Gra1nger says:

    And, College Humor presents: The Tron Lebowski. http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1948233

  • AJ says:

    The reverse-aging made Jeff Bridges look like Breckin Meyer because when Jeff Bridges was a young, beardless guy he DID look like Breckin Meyer.

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