- Rated PG
- Buy the Blu-ray
All photos © Walt Disney
Reviewed by David Medsker
t’s tough to get emotionally invested in a movie where 99.9% of the characters aren’t real. But really, that’s just a by-product of the larger problem with “TRON: Legacy,” which is the story structure. So much exposition, so little time. Oh wait, that’s the other problem with “TRON.” There isn’t so little time; there’s too much of it. In fact, it’s a good 15 to 20 minutes too long. The visuals are magnificent, and the score is stunning, but the human element is virtually nonexistent, which is surprising considering the story revolves around someone losing his father as a child.
Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) understandably never got over the mysterious disappearance of his father, video game developer and ENCOM tech wizard Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), 21 years earlier. When his father’s closest friend Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) tells Sam that he just received a page from a long-disconnected phone number of Kevin’s, Sam heads to the old arcade that his father owned, and discovers a hidden chamber with cutting-edge gear. After implementing a few hacker commands, Sam accidentally transports himself to The Grid, the cellular level of an operating system where the computer programs look like regular people. It is here that Sam finds his father, who had been visiting this computer world when Sam was a boy but was trapped once the program he created, named Clu (also Bridges), had designs for creating a “perfect” world.
The story has good ideas at its core – though the whole genocide/Aryan aspect of the story was heavy-handed – but since so much of the story’s plot has already happened by the time we enter the virtual world, it all has to be spoon-fed via exposition. It makes sense that they want the viewer to be as in the dark about the Grid as Sam is, but it comes with a price, especially considering that the movie isn’t half the action extravaganza that it pretends to be. It doesn’t help that Bridges’ character keeps flipping between Zen master and a surfer version of the Dude, either. (“Digital bio-jazz, man.”) Bridges is nothing, though, compared to Michael Sheen’s Castor, who looks like Eric Idle dressed as Aladdin Sane-era David Bowie. There is a way to do comic relief in an otherwise serious movie. This is not the way.
The CGI really is extraordinary, though, blending cutting-edge graphics with some cute 8-bit touches (the fireworks, for one). Director Joseph Kosinski wisely opts for a depth-of-canvas approach to the 3D rather than tip-of-your-nose gimmicks, and when there is nothing to do but soak up the scenery and Daft Punk’s magnificent score, “TRON: Legacy” is a sight to behold. Unfortunately, all of the movie’s marvels are technical ones.
Give Disney credit for taking a video game concept and giving it art film sensibility, but they should have been more concerned with giving the movie a human touch rather than a pretty hairstyle. As it is, “TRON: Legacy” is beautiful but cold, more machine than man.
Five-Disc Blu-ray Review:
We're of two minds about the five-disc set for "TRON: Legacy." On the one hand, it features the movie in four formats (3D Blu-ray, 2D Blu-ray, DVD and digital) and also contains a Blu-ray copy of the original "TRON," the set's true selling point, along with a ton of extras, including the extras from the original DVD release of "TRON" in 2002. On the other hand, many of these special features on the "TRON: Legacy" Blu-ray are just promotional tools for other items in the Disney empire. In fact, half of the features have nothing to do with the movie. The stuff that does have to do with the movie is good, though, as they discuss the casting, the design and the movie's influence. There is also a fun fake documentary about the grassroots "Flynn Lives" movement. Still, for those who want both "TRON" movies on Blu-ray and don't have a 3D player, you'd be better off buying each movie separately than getting this monster set.