Friday, December 17, 2010

'Tron: Legacy,' a Cinematic E-Ticket Ride

Maybe it was because I was sitting at a midnight showing with a theater full of enthusiastic TronGeeks.  Maybe it was because, after being up all day, I was wired on caffeine and sugar. Or, maybe it was simply because I refused to listen to the critics who nitpicked everything that's wrong with Tron: Legacy and didn't focus on what's right about it.

I had a blast. Tron: Legacy is one helluva fun ride.

It's not a perfect movie by any means. Yes, the characters are thinly sketched, some plot points are confusing and there's very little emotion at it's core.

I don't care. Fire up the lighted discs and the virtual winged-thingies. Let's go!

The original Tron is one of those movies that's remembered for being better than it really is. Its computer effects at the time were groundbreaking, but they were interlaced with lame dialog and a wisp of a story involving Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) trying to recover some video game programs from a corporate tight-ass (David Warner). But, in 1982, the light cycle races on the game grid Flynn gets zapped into were very cool to watch--they still are--and that nearly made up for Tron's shortcomings.

So, why even bother to make a sequel 28 years later?

Dude, have you seen what they can do with light cycle races these days?

As critical as I've been of 3D movie-making, I broke down and watched Tron: Legacy in IMAX 3D. For the first time, I can say it was genuinely worth it. IMAX was made for movies like Tron: Legacy, with larger-than-life visuals and bone-rattling sound. You get pulled smack dab in the middle of the game grid sequences, full of thrilling chases and pulse-pounding action. As I watched, out of the corner of my eye, I could see a couple of teen boys on the edge of their seats, leaning forward, absolutely riveted by what was on-screen. I'm not embarrassed to say I was doing the same.

At this point, does the story even matter? Well, yes it does, kinda. Twenty years after Kevin Flynn has mysteriously disappeared, his grown son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) stumbles upon the secret of his missing father and suddenly finds himself battling for his life in a virtual world where "Game Over" means "Game Over." Sam gets help from Quorra (sharp and sassy Olivia Wilde), a grid program who turns out to be the protege of Sam's father. Together, they do battle with Kevin's evil--and younger-looking--computer doppelganger Clu (also played by Bridges with the help of some creepy, but effective, motion-capture technology) and try to escape the world that has become Kevin's virtual prison. A lot of it won't make sense, so don't over think it. Just let the sound and light show--with an astounding electronic score by Daft Punk--wash over you. This is not a movie to analyze. This is a movie to enjoy strictly for its guilty, visceral thrills.


  1. Great write-up Tim. I can't wait to see it. Hopefully this weekend.

  2. I was wondering if you'd enjoy it in 3D or not. Glad you did! When I saw this movie a few weeks ago at an advance screening I loved it as the popcorn entertainment it is. The friend I went with decided to analyze it to death as if it were a serious piece of art. My response, "Dude. It's 'Tron.'"