Almost 30 years later, and I still don’t get what the hell they’re talking about.
Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), son of the famous Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), responds to a message from his long-lost father and is transported into a virtual reality called the Grid, where Sam and the algorithm Quorra (Olivia Wilde) try to stop the malevolent program CLU (a younger Bridges in CGI-form) from invading the human world. However, times have changed for dear old Kevin Flynn and he’s not exactly what he used to be, so it’s up to Sam to save the day.
After checking out the first TRON and not seeing it as anything more than just a pretty film that’s easy on the eyes (if you take the time-period into consideration), but still, very hollow once you get underneath it all, I was actually looking forward to this one. The reason being is just because it’s been almost 30 years since the original, so therefore it seems like they would have a new hold on the visuals, the story, the acting, the writing, and just about everything else that didn’t work in the original. Somehow, that idea didn’t get around to anybody working on this movie, except maybe the people working on the soundtrack. Yeah, giving Daft Punk a call was a bit different.
If you haven’t seen the original, you may want to do that now before you even bother reading the rest of this review or even seeing this movie because going into this one blind and having no idea what to expect will probably leave you in the dust. Not only does the flick barely touch on anything that happened in the first movie, but it’s story (or lack thereof) is mainly for the people who saw and could at least understand some portion of the original’s. Basically, see the first one and THEN, check this one out. You’ll be happy I gave you that piece of advice, but then again, you maybe be unhappy that I gave you that piece of advice because not only did you have to sit-through one TRON movie, but two! My condolences, people. My condolences.
Actually, all of this pre-game shit-talking may not be deserved because to be honest: I actually enjoyed myself with a good-portion of this flick. Heck, if I was to put it head-to-head with the first; I’d probably have to go with this one pulling out the close victory. Close-call, but still a victory none the less. With that being said, it doesn’t mean that the same problems I had with the first movie aren’t here, it’s just that there is more to distract me this time around. Thankfully, that distraction lies in the form of Joseph Krosinski’s visual-direction. In the 30 years ever since the first one came out and shook-up the world of movies and video-games as we knew it, technology sure as hell had changed and improved in ways that we wouldn’t have ever been able to swallow back in those days. This means that the movie actually takes advantage of that fact, the same way the original did, except with more CGI, more 3-D, and more IMAX.
Obviously, the first one for it’s time, was revolutionary and visionary with what it could do back in the dog days of Summer in ’82, but now, in the 21st Century; there’s so much more than we ever imagined. The world of the Grid looks more beautiful and breath-taking than it ever did before and you really feel as if you are swept into this virtual-reality world with the same shit from the first movie like electronic cars, frisbees, and weapons, but this time; with more pizzazz and style added to the mix. I really felt like Krosinski had a total understanding of what the look and feel of this world would be like, and he doesn’t drop the ball on it once. Especially in one scene that takes place inside this wild and crazy night-club that had me feel like I was watching a whole, different movie. Also, the scene works because that’s really when Daft Punk’s score begins to kick-in and if it wasn’t for them and their pounding, electronic-beats in the background in that scene, as well as for the rest of the movie, there probably wouldn’t have been the same amount of electronic-energy involved that just got your senses alive and pumping.
Thanks to Krosinski, you feel as if you are there in this virtual-world where everything is on such a higher-platform than it ever was before and the guy absolutely revels in it. You can tell that he really did grow-up with the original movie, and shows that he loves this world just as much as any other nerd, who probably watched it back in the day, and fell in love with it just the same. However, the difference between Krosinski is that he has a camera and about $170 million to work with, whereas the nerds are just left there, making $10 an hour, eating Doritos off their chests as they sit-back, and watch as a fellow-nerd lives out their shared-dream to the fullest. In a way, that can all be viewed as a humble experience, but it still goes to show you that if you have inspiration and a vision that you want to get-out there for the rest of the world to see, don’t hold yourself back from showing yourself. Get the hell out there and make it happen! Fuck yeah!
Anywho, I think I may have gotten a bit too carried away with what I was trying to say because yes: even though Krosinski knows exactly what he’s trying to do behind-the-camera and with the visuals, he still hits the same dead-end that the original hit way too many times: the script. For all of you who probably guessed it, then yes, the script is pretty terrible and without getting into the whole gist of this thing and finding myself in a circle of total and complete convoluted craziness, I’m just going to state that this plot practically makes no sense, even to a person that has seen the original no less than a week ago. There are some interesting ideas here, but nothing all that special that the Matrix didn’t already cover, about 11 years earlier. Which means watching it now, just seems like a bit of a re-tread of something that was done and said, a hell of a lot better before. God, you gotta love the 90’s.
As you could probably suspect, the dialogue is pretty shitty but you don’t come to a movie like this for winning-dialogue and understandings of the world we surround ourselves with; you come to these movies for fun and fun only, and that’s what element this script is missing out on: fun. What made the original a relative joy to watch was that no matter how corny, no matter how dated, and no matter how lame the rest of the script was (and trust me, it did get unbearable at-points), the film still always had this breath of fresh air that knew it wasn’t taking itself so seriously and always allowed there to be room for play-time. However, this movie, this story, and this script, only allows little to no room for play-time and really brings down the whole mood of the film. Terrible shame too, because it could have really saved a lot of the shaky-material this movie had on-display.
Yeah, I get that it’s supposed to be a bit of a dumb movie that’s strictly for fans of the original and people that like extra butter on their popcorn, but is this really the BEST material they had to offer? I mean, you can live-off the fanboys money for only so long, all up until the point where the fanboys begin to realize something is wrong, dead-wrong with the way things are structured in a movie, especially a movie that’s living in a cult-name like TRON. Even though I wouldn’t go so far as to call the final-product a total cash-grab for that said audience; it still feels like a lame and disappointing attempt at trying to re-create the fire that was once there. The fire that also never really caught my eye in the first-place but then again, it’s a different type of movie for a different type of person. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.
The one thing they did improve on, if only a tad bit, from the original is that the characters at least have more to them than I originally expected. Jeff Bridges returns as Kevin Flynn in two forms: the goodie and the baddie. The goodie-form of him show the Zen-like fashion where he’s more of The Dude, than the precursor to Neo. This especially works for the aging-Bridges who always seems to be the most reasonable and coolest guy in the room, no matter what type of role he’s playing in any movie he appears in. However, the baddie-form of this character is where things really start to get topsy-turvy for Bridges because it isn’t exactly that it’s Bridges actually playing the character and giving a realistic-performance, it’s more that the computer is taking over and giving us another one of those terribly-creepy, Robert Zemeckis-like motion-capture performances that not only have us scared, but totally take us away from the movie.
Flynn’s baddie-version of himself was supposed to be intimidating and threatening in the way that he could control almost everything and everything, due to the set of skills and prowess he had from the computer codes Flynn gave him. However, when you give the guy the motion-capture treatment like this, he doesn’t look the least-bit scary. The only form of scary, is that he’ll probably just give the kiddies nightmares, that’s if you even bring them to see this. Don’t know why you would, but you never know: nerds have done far worse. However, instead, you’re too busy laughing your ass off by how dull his eyes look and how stupid it seems to be whenever he opens his mouth. They did nail some aspects of Bridges when he was a younger lad, but it’s still not enough to be less distracting than a form of CGI in say, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. That was not only used to enhance the story, but done very, very well. Here, it just looks dumb and takes you totally out of the movie and character, even if Bridges does try his hardest to make this character, in both forms, work. I mean, I’ll give a lot of credit to Bridges for actually allowing a movie to take a younger-version of himself and plant it in a movie where he shows-up quite frequently, but still, for the movie’s sake, it’s a bold-move that doesn’t work.
Garrett Hedlund plays his son, in what seems to be the type of role that could make him a star and send his name up into the highest-rankings (sort of like Chris Pine in Star Trek), however, he’s just not really talented enough to allow that to actually happen. Hedlund definitely looks the part of a young, wild, and brass go-getter dude that knows his shit don’t stank, but there was just something that felt off in his delivery and sent his character into a daze of dullness. You sort of forget that he’s even around and if it wasn’t for the plot needing him to do cool, flashy action-moves (mainly because Bridges sure as hell can’t do them anymore), then he would have not served any purpose to this story whatsoever. Okay, maybe that’s a bit drastic to say but you get my drift: the guy blows here.
Olivia Wilde is the one who really saves this cast, and in a way, the movie as well. She plays Quorra, the ass-kicking femme fatale of the group and is not only a gorgeous soul to just gaze at, but also has some nice dramatic-chops to her that she shows in full-display here. Something tells me the script didn’t really ask for much with a character of her liking, but Wilde doesn’t ever seem to settle for conventionality and actually brings the cake to the screen, whereas her co-star Hedlund, seems to really fall-apart. Not only does she have the looks, but she has the brains as well. My type of woman.
Also in the cast, is Michael Sheen who seems to be having a freakin’ blast as Castor, aka, the sci-fi version of David Bowie that only gets about 10-minutes or so of screen-time, but lights it up the way he always likes to. He’s apart of that crazy, club-scene I was alluding to earlier and is one of the main reasons why it’s so electric and fun in the first-place. Still, it’s a total downer that the guy doesn’t show-up more as I feel like the film could have totally used his type of contribution here. I also have no idea why Cillian Murphy was here and decided to show-up for 5-seconds of screen-time, but hey, I guess it’s just another job to put down on his resume, so good for that guy.
Consensus: The promise for a TRON sequel may lie somewhere in-between the loads of amounts of CGI in TRON: Legacy, but it somehow falls by the same waist-side the first one did. That’s all due to lack of character-development, a story that makes little to no sense, and a feeling of joyful fun that’s about the action, adventure, excitement, and playing the deadliest-game of Frisbee, rather than incomprehensible exposition that doesn’t add anything to the final-product, other than snores from the audience. Even the nerds!
6.5 / 10 = Rental!!