Tron: Legacy reviews

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Re: Tron: Legacy reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Jul 16, 2011 7:29 pm

It's so long ago you may have both forgotten this discussion, but, from one who just watched this last night, to both Sabin and Oscar Guy:

Yeah, the info on the ISOs was contained within that long "here's what's happened over the past 20+ years" exposition. I absorbed it, but I'm sure there's plenty else in that long, dull patch I failed to hold onto. I had actually faded on the film prior to that -- about the time The Kid and various opponents started hurling discs at one another for no good reason. Sabin is very right, that failing to ground us in this world prior to kicking up the action is fatal to any chance of our involvement in the characters' predicament.

Another big problem with Bridges Pere's monologue: it wants to set up a plot that will satisfy contemporary sci-fi fans, but it also wants to "work" as something that could be viewed as the product of the Bridges character's imagination -- as a computer program. I have my doubts that any script could have successfully merged these two demands, but here the attempt to serve competing masters has resulted in the worst of both worlds: it's a drearily familiar evil-betrayal scenario, talked about in geek terminology, but not capturing any existential sense of what it's like to be trapped inside something pre-programmed.

As for the father/son "relationship" -- one of the dreariest aspects of action films in the post-Spielberg/Lucas era is their insistence on grounding everything in simplistic family permutations. In this world, all estranged fathers love their children deeply and are only waiting out a chance to prove it (after which they will conveniently die so the child can get on with screwing the heroine). The idea that relationships between even the best of parents and children have built in strains that do not lend themselves to easy resolution is one that's beyond these filmmakers' comprehension.

I agree that the young Jeff Bridges is about as real as a Madame Tussaud exhibit, and having to look at it so often makes one undervalue the other (often quite breathtaking) visual effects work. I also think the score is strong, and the visual design largely a knockout. If Avatar and Alice in Wonderland could get design nominations, I don't see why this couldn't. Except, of course, it would require voters being able to stay awake long enough to see the work...something at which I had some trouble.

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Postby Sabin » Fri Dec 24, 2010 3:15 pm

(OscarGuy @ Dec. 24 2010,6:46)
First, the ISO's are introduced earlier in the narrative as being eliminated for not being perfect...a type of genocide. And when Wilde is revealed as one, it explains one of the major reasons (besides being trapped) that Bridges the Elder has remained isolated instead of trying to take out his self-creation. He must protect an artificial, sentient intelligence that he accidentally created. It's not that great a concept, but it does bearing that it wasn't an out of nowhere revelation. There are a few hints about Wilde's character and I had guessed she was one before the reveal, but it's not some glorious script concept. So, the script still stinks, but I wanted to clarify.

I think I know the reason that I missed this. Before I do so, I think I mentioned in my post below that Tron: Legacy drops Dude Bro into the Grid and then immediately sets him off to do battle, failing to produce a sense of introductory wonderment of his new world. Had the film properly established as Dude Bro lands in the Grid who these programs are in relation to the users and provided a sense of autonomy and history, I might have bought into their mythos a little bit more.

Because they are not set up as a people, when Old Jeff Bridges expo-dumps at times fifteen minutes on end, it bored the shit out of me. And while the Iso's might have been mentioned, so were about ten or twenty other meaningless [to me] "crucial ingredients". This is why you want to spread out your reveals and your set-ups. So you don't bore the audience into a coma with meaningless shit. I assume this is revealed during the Worst Father Son Reunion In History, no? There is fifteen minutes of expo-dumping by Old Jeff Bridges that occurs there. Kosinski produces some gorgeous imagery but I noticed that it almost detracts from the film at times. When a character is talking at me, spewing history at me, A) I don't care because it's such a drastic shift in pace from what the film has set-up, and B) I'm just looking at the images like a shiny pair of keys. And Kosinski is right to do so because when the Iso's are mentioned during this chunk of speech, it's not like they have any meaning or I could possibly care because I don't know who the programs are, I barely know who the users are, and I certainly can't know what the iso's are.

Do you know what I mean? I recall the perfect world being destroyed and some people being mentioned but it's not like it means anything.
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Postby OscarGuy » Fri Dec 24, 2010 7:46 am

I won't defend the script, it's certainly not worth defending, but I think you missed a few crucial elements in there, Sabin.

First, the ISO's are introduced earlier in the narrative as being eliminated for not being perfect...a type of genocide. And when Wilde is revealed as one, it explains one of the major reasons (besides being trapped) that Bridges the Elder has remained isolated instead of trying to take out his self-creation. He must protect an artificial, sentient intelligence that he accidentally created. It's not that great a concept, but it does bearing that it wasn't an out of nowhere revelation. There are a few hints about Wilde's character and I had guessed she was one before the reveal, but it's not some glorious script concept. So, the script still stinks, but I wanted to clarify.

And has there been any more "what the fuck" a moment than when Michael Sheen shows up? I didn't recognize him at first and it took until the credits for me to realize where I'd seen him. Sure, it's a fun character, but holy fuck was it bizarre. And how is he one of only two programs that seem to have any emotional depth in the film (excluding the slightly less emotionally involved Garrett Hedlund).

Gorgeous to look at. An inspiration of visual style. And it has lots of eye candy, but isn't terribly great. And I'll second hating the young Jeff Bridges effects worth. I could have bought the limited range of technical depth in creating a program version of young Jeff Bridges. It makes sense visually...except that it's the same terrible graphic used for the scenes set in the past...it's not very convincing, which threw me out of appreciating the attempt. Had the real world version been more realistic and the in-game version been less, I could have liked it.
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Postby Sabin » Fri Dec 24, 2010 2:32 am

Now for such a technological breakthrough of eye candy and visuals, the main reason to see this film is the score by Daft Punk. I hear Hans Zimmer was the consultant on it, but my God is this an amazing piece of music. There's no way that the Academy will nominate Trent Reznor AND/OR Daft Punk, but these are the two best scores of the year bar none. Amazing. So cool. What Daft Punk allows the director to do (I didn't catch his name, but this must be the most expensive first feature in history) is linger on his admittedly intoxicating visuals while providing the throttle for the narrative that the performances and screenplay do not provide. I could see the film providing any series of different visuals, any different storylines, but I cannot imagine a more effective score. I refuse to listen to it in the car because that would be dangerous.

As for the rest of the movie, I have not seen the original so I could not have been less emotionally involved. It should be taught in screenwriting classes as to how not to write a script. There are so many fundamental flaws in this script that I have to imagine ONE FUCKING DAY OF REWRITES could have fixed all because they are so glaring. For one, when Dude Bro drops into the Grid, it is given none but the most cursory of introductions, he lands, and he is immediately launched into the game. There is no time to take in the atmosphere or wonder in this world. It's already a death battle, and presumably they did that so the film would pick up after a (GOD FORBID!) 15 minute start in 2DEarth. We can't wait 17 minutes for death games. It has to be 15. So right off the bat, it is impossible to gain any form of necessary introduction into the world, let alone to ascertain the meaning.

Then the death games because, Dude Bro does astonishingly well, and he's brought in to meet Clue, played by Young Jeff Bridges in the Single Worst Performance of the Year. This is the nadir of Jeff Bridges career, and outside of some of the most amazing visuals I've ever seen in film, Tron Legacy should not win Best Visual Effects because Young Jeff Bridges is one of the worst things I've ever seen. It's halfway impressive on a technical scale but they needlessly complicate things by introducing Clue as a character of such profound contradiction and lack of personality. He bounces from vacuous program to Bond villain within seconds. Boring, ugly, weird. Anyway, he has to kill Dude Bro himself and then Dude Bro survives...yada yada yada...he's picked up by Olivia Wilde, who maybe forty minutes later and without any possible foreshadowing outside the most rudimentary of fashions will be introduced as an Iso, basically Leelo (or whatever) from The Fifth Element. Some savior, pure sentience alien thing, that will not save anything but is too amazing to let die. Again, when this is told to you the audience, it will come so out of nowhere and serve no practical plot function, but simply validate her as something worth saving, like the fact that she's unbelievably hot and loyal to Old Jeff Bridges isn't enough. Maybe a day of rewrites could have incorporated Isos into the plot beforehand so it wouldn't come so out of nowhere, but whatever.

Then Dude Bro meets Old Jeff Bridges, his father, whom he presumed dead for maybe two decades, and engage in the most impersonal reunion you could possibly imagine. The film will expo dump at you for maybe a half hour. The nonsense will flood over and off you, and when these things prove pertinent later on in the film, you will maybe feel like it's your fault for not paying attention. It's not. This is a horrible script. I'm not going to go any further but these details hopefully should illustrate the casual annoyances of Tron: Legacy, a film that could have been much cooler, that repels emotional involvement, and that nobody in the industry will entirely understand why it could not parallel the achievement of Avatar, a simple, stupid film that did emotionally engage audiences with a profound sense of introductory wonderment. Essential when making a 3D film, don't you think?

Is it worth seeing? I guess. It's a video game, and I don't play video games. The action scenes are a good time. They become tiresome because you do not care about anything in the film, but they're reasonably entertaining. I was more brought in by the gorgeous visuals of the film. There are single frame images in Tron: Legacy that would be equally mesmerizing in a 2D film. The color palette is just exquisite. I don't think it will get a cinematography nomination but it certainly deserves a nomination over Avatar. In fact, it's very difficult to not compare this film to Avatar because everything you thought could be improved has been and dutifully so. Everything you hated about Avatar...well, get ready for Tron: Legacy.
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Postby Mister Tee » Sat Dec 04, 2010 5:07 pm

Hollywood Reporter

Review of 'Tron: Legacy'
by Todd McCarthy

Verrry long-awaited sequel looks sharp in 3D and runs circles around its progenitor in effects and story, which isn't saying a whole lot.

Starring Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, James Frain, Beau Garrett, Michael Sheen, Anis Cheurfa

Directed by Joseph Kosinski

Could "Tron: Legacy" be the first official sequel made nearly three decades after the original film? There are perhaps good reasons why Disney waited so long, beginning with the obvious matter that the 1982 "Tron" was an awfully lame movie. Sure, it deserves a footnote in film history for marking the beginning of the CGI era.
But, seen today, the film is so incoherent and groaningly scripted as to be tolerable only if watched in a rude Mystery Science Theater 3000 frame of mind. Kids who caught the original at 12 when it came out are 40 now and may recall it through a fog of uncritical nostalgia, which may help account for Disney's wise decision to delay the release of a spruced-up Blu-Ray edition until early next year (at least in Los Angeles, DVDs of the first film have been essentially impossible to come by in video stores in recent weeks, even in the remaining specialist shops).

The mildly surprising news, then, is that there are aspects of Tron: Legacy that are actually rather cool. Granted, these mostly fall within the realms of architecture, interior design and advanced motor racing techniques, but they are blessed compensations nevertheless. The fact that you get two (or three, depending upon how you count) incarnations of Jeff Bridges isn't a bad deal either, although it all ends up being a half-hour too much of a just okay thing. Like the original, the follow-up should do decent business, especially in 3D engagements, where the dynamic staging of the action scenes will be be seen to greatest effect, but fall short of the box office Nirvana achieved by top-drawer sci-fi and fantasy films.

In fact, the recent film Tron: Legacy most resembles — in its lustful embrace of high technology, the combat-game format, corporate control angle, enduring father-son allegiance and fundamental silliness — is the Wachowskis' Speed Racer. To be fair, the premise of the current film is more intriguing, as it's built around a rescue mission in which, to retrieve Dad, the son must venture into the grid designed by his father but subsequently taken over by “programs” led by his old man's doppleganger.

That the grid is a perilous place is quickly discovered by Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), who, in his late 20s, is still pissed that his genius pop Kevin disappeared on him a couple of decades earlier. Vengefully playing elaborate pranks on his missing father's giant technology firm Encom, zooming around city streets on his motorcycle and living a cutting edge downtown life, Sam is soon lured to his old man's shuttered video arcade, where he finds the long elusive key that will allow him to follow his father into another sphere.

Aping the immortal moment in The Wizard of Oz when the mundane monochromatic palette of Kansas gives way to the riotous colors of Oz, Tron: Legacy bursts from 2D into nifty 3D at the 24-minute mark, when Sam breaks through into the grid. Almost at once, he's all but literally thrown to the lions when forced to put his biker background to good use (with his squinty-eyed looks and prove-it-to-me attitude, Hedlund does throw off some Steve McQueen vibes) during a deadly high-speed race in a darkly suggested gladatorial-style arena seemingly big enough to accommodate the entire population of Chicago.

This sequence is not only the most exciting in the film but also provides a handy point of comparison to the original and to how far digital effects have come in the intervening years. In the first Tron, the race was an almost entirely geometric affair, with the motorcycles traveling as if on a child's Etch-A-Sketch board and crashing into opponents' contrails. It truly did feel like little more than a one-dimensional video game with no environmental component.

By contrast, compelling design elements are a hallmark of Legacy. Illuminated Philip Johnson-style glass enclosures hang dramatically against nocturnal backdrops, while uniforms and aerodynamically designed motorcycles are strikingly defined by their lights and colors — orange and red for the grid-based programs, blue and white for the outsiders. The streaks of light, combined with three-dimensional twists and turns by the rocketing bikes, the eye-widening way “programs” disintegrate upon impact and the power techno score by Daft Punk create a novel and fully realized action set piece limited only by the anonymity of all but one of the participants.

Before long, director Joseph Kosinski, whose background lies in high-end commercials, and scripters Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz must settle down to the serious business of Sam's reunion with his dad and figuring out how to extricate themselves from the prison of Kevin's own devising. Turns out the inventor slipped frequently into and out of the grid for some time before his “program” self, Clu, outstripped his creator and gained the upper hand. Kevin has since been kept under house arrest in the company of beauteous warrior Quorra (Olivia Wilde) in an abode that, in its immaculate whiteness, looks more than a bit inspired by Keir Dullea's elegant final home in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

With ruling the grid having gotten old , the megalomaniacal Clu craves crossing over into the real world, setting up the battle royal between him and the makeshift Flynn clan. Despite some sharp effects, notably a combat aircraft that takes shape as the “pilot” zooms through the air, plus a bizarre turn by Michael Sheen as an obsequious white tuxed, cane-wielding nightclub showman, the film's latter half bogs down in a redundancy of stand-offs and multiple endings..

Bearded and looking just a tad less scruffy as Kevin than he did in Crazy Heart, Bridges achieves many an actor's dream by convincingly appearing much younger than his real self, both as Kevin in a scene set in 1989, and as fit, fortyish Clu. It would be ironic if the ultimate legacy of Legacy were not as a notable sci-fi achievement but as the film that convinced middle-aged actors that they should again be considered for young romantic leads.

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Postby Mister Tee » Sat Dec 04, 2010 4:56 pm

Because I know some people are interested. From Variety.


Tron: Legacy

Reverential reboot is visually light-years ahead of the original and yet strangely old-fashioned.

By Peter Debruge


Visually light-years ahead of the 1982 original and yet strangely old-fashioned in the story department, "Tron: Legacy" plays like the world's most impressive screensaver -- a flashy, fetishistic showcase of what bikes and bodysuits might look like in a future designed by renegade Apple employees. While 21st-century effects and a cutting-edge dance score make this a stunning virtual ride, the underlying concept feels as far-fetched as ever. Still, the Disney tentpole's 3D-enhanced spectacle offers enough to draw legions to first-time director Joseph Kosinski's reverential reboot, which should set high scores worldwide (compared to an OK $33 million for the earlier version).
That old-vs.-new paradox traces back to the original, which framed a wooden gladiator-style conflict against the backdrop of borderline-psychedelic, never-before-seen CGI. And though the world is a friendlier place to gamers today than it was when Disney first beta-tested this franchise, the new film's four writers play it safe by conceiving their protag as the ultimate anti-nerd, a young Bruce Wayne type embodied by the generically handsome Garrett Hedlund ("Troy").

The son of ultra-successful software engineer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), who disappeared into his own creation nearly 20 years earlier, Sam shares none of his father's high-tech interests. Instead, under the sometime supervision of Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner, downgraded from the title character in Version 1.0 to cameo status here), the trust-fund orphan gets his kicks racing cops on his Ducati and pulling stunts that undermine the profit-hungry motives of dad's old company, where suits (Jeffrey Nordling and an uncredited Cillian Murphy) now run the show.

Drawn back to Flynn's arcade, Sam discovers a secret lab, where a laser zaps him onto "the grid" -- a fully CG arena where programs take human form and genuine humans hold hallowed status. Using 3D the way "The Wizard of Oz" did color, the film hits its pulse-racing heights early as Sam tries to intuit the rules of this virtual world while being stripped down, suited up and thrust into a series of dazzling life-and-death games involving neon-lit discs and DayGlo Light Cycles, while leaving the story nowhere to go but home, Dorothy.

Scribes Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (from a story written with Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal) try to supply a much-needed dramatic dimension by reuniting Sam with his long-lost father, which should have given the programmatic plot more of an emotional resonance. After all, what 21st-century partner or parent can't relate to the idea of the men in their life preferring to live in the parallel world offered by their videogames? That's effectively the explanation "Tron: Legacy" offers for Kevin Flynn's long-ago disappearance: He became so obsessed with his cyber Second Life that he would visit it every night, until his most perfect program, Clu, got the upper hand and trapped him there. But things stall after father and son come face-to-face, reverting to yet another tired world-domination plot, spearheaded by power-hungry Clu.

A laid-back Bridges does double-duty here, playing both Kevin (who looks like a space-age Rasputin in his long white robes) and Clu, who returns the actor to his younger form via unconvincingly rendered facial performance-capture. Though Kevin's waxy-cheeked clone makes a certain sense in the all-digital Tron-iverse -- despite livelier characters played by James Frain, Olivia Wilde and Michael Sheen (who seems to be channeling David Bowie) -- the same technology registers as embarrassing when used to reverse-age Bridges in a real-world opening flashback.

Commercials helmer Kosinski hails from a background in architecture and visual effects, and what the design-oriented director lacks in narrative instinct, he makes up for in large-scale vision. If "Tron: Legacy's" primary raison d'etre was to relaunch Lisberger's world in such a way that it could support not only movies but also games, merch and themepark attractions, then Kosinski more than satisfies the job requirement. Building on blueprints from that first film (including such classic vehicles as the Recognizers and the Solar Sailer), Kosinski creates a world we'd love to explore for ourselves, using the 3D to enhance the immersive experience: Light Cycles literally materialize out of thin air, while the action spills not only "off the grid" but off the screen as well.

Every bit as important as the pic's impressive visuals is its Daft Punk score, which hails from an entirely different dimension from conventional film compositions, establishing the tone for the whole enterprise. You don't just hear the music, but feel it reverberating in your bones -- an energy on the same sonic wavelength as the film's vehicles and costumes, combining the flickering hum of fluorescent tubes and the insistent beat of a futuristic engine.

Those bodysuits, by the way, are now sexy, jet-black foam-latex numbers with built-in lights of various colors, rather than the unflattering white spandex of the original (which vfx guys hand-illuminated via backlit animation) -- not that folks will be comparing things too closely. Although the 1982 film has its own cult-like following, mostly among geeks and stoners, Disney has strategically allowed the DVD to go out of print. That means younger auds will discover this slick film first, buying into the sequel's radically upgraded look before having a chance to revisit its clunky prototype.


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