Sunday, December 19, 2010

So.... "Tron Legacy"

So, I just came back from seeing this one and....


I wanted better.

As someone who IS old enough to have seen the original Tron in theatres (and DID see it in a theatre) I was really disappointed and underwhelmed.

It wasn't bad enough to make me walk out of the theatre but it never got my blood pumping and I came to realize that I only laughed ONCE in the entire movie and I was the ONLY person in the theatre who got the joke.... and yes, it was a joke. The other scenes which you could tell were SUPPOSED to be jokes fell flatter than a pancake.

I splurged for the 3-D but because I suspected the movie was going to probably not live up to my expectations I went to a matinee so I didn't pay full price.

I'm glad I didn't.

Although I have to say that, on one level, it was worth it to see it on the big screen with all the special effects.

But overall.... The original Tron was a lot closer to sci-fi. Yeah, it was fantastic but it was grounded in early computer programming and the way computers functioned. For Legacy they seemed to throw all of that out the window in favor os Sci-Fantasy. I'm no computer expert but I didn't hardly hear ANY discussion about the way all this stuff was supposed to be functioning in an essentially computer world. And then there was the stuff that just plain wasn't explained. Like Kevin Flynn existing in the computer world with food and water. Where did it come from? In the original movie Flynn drank what looked like liquid but was actually a form of electrical energy. Here they're chowing down on what looks like green beans... were these constructs? How were they created? Why "make" food like that? And that's just ONE problem I had with unexplained stuff. There were tons more and each one kept tearing me out of the movie. Like rain. It RAINS in a computer program world. How? WHY?!

And, getting back to the programming stuff -- well, all the rules in the first movie again were tossed away in favor of some kind of Hollywood Cinema Zen Buddhism Rip-Off. The Kevin Flynn of the first movie who was a rebel but still a logical, computer scientist is replaced by a guy who spouts hippie dialogue that was corny even back in the 1960's! Even figuring the idea of the years changing someone this just wasn't the same character.... at all.

Oh, and the plot twists? If you don't see every single one of them coming from a mile away then you're REALLY not paying attention. There was nothing surprising here -- not even the ending (and no, I won't spoil the ending all I'll say is that if you go into the movie figuring you know how it's going to end... you're right).

Perhaps worst of all, the movie feels like it's stolen bits and pieces from other (frankly better) movies and just sewen them together and put a new skin over them. The film hopes to distract you from noticing this but it just can't hold interest enough for you to NOT sit there and go: "Stole that from Batman Begins, stole that from Star Wars (they steal a LOT from Star Wars), stole that from A Clockwork Orange, stole that from Blade Runner, stole that from The Matrix, etc., etc., etc.

But the special effects and the action set pieces? Yeah... pretty good. The 3-D DOES add something to the proceedings and most of the action IS good, although again, it never quite grabs you and I think the reason why is that you never quite care enough about the characters. Sam Flynn is easy on the eyes (and they WAY could have used more shirtless scenes with him -- one was NOT enough) but you just don't CARE about him or his life. And Sam and Quorra, despite supposedly being the romantic center of the movie, have as much chemistry as the iceberg that sunk the Titanic. Virtual Jeff Bridges as the villain Clu? Again, you just don't care. He never seems.... villainous enough. So in order to care about the action you have to care about what happens to these characters and you just... don't.

And then there's the computer tricked out Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner -- made to look young again. This actually works most of the time. It looks pretty damn realistic and it's frankly a little scary. I mean, we're probably now only about one or two years away from actors, no matter how old, being able to play as young as they like thanks to special effects. All those rumors about George Lucas going to make a movie with dead actors now seems scarily plausible.

I also have to say that the movie is, in a way, mis-named. Although, in the original film, Jeff Bridges character of Kevin Flynn was certainly the focal point of the movie he shared the hero role with Boxleitner's character of Tron and, in the end, Tron was the one to destroy the bad guy. Here Tron is an afterthought. It's a name tossed around for most of the movie but he's not really a PRESENCE here.

It should be noted that the filmmakers also DO leave the door open -- and obviously so -- for a sequel and all things considered the film will probably do well enough for that sequel. But I, for one, don't hold out hope that they will bother to fix what went wrong here.

Long story short (too late!), if you liked the original, don't bother with this one. If you're looking for smart, original sci-fi, again, don't bother with this one. Save up your money for when something good comes along.

Personally, I'm hoping that The Green Hornet exceeds expectations.

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