Tron Legacy (2010): ***
Directed By Joseph Kosinski
Ah, Tron. Here's the thing you have to realize about the first
Tron movie: It isn't very good. It worked as a state-of-the-art experience:
visuals and sounds (it won an Oscar for Best Sound) and things you've
never seen before. The same is true of this sequel: it sure is something
to behold, even if it isn't a terribly great movie, though I must say
I enjoyed the story more than the first movie.
Here's one thing I really appreciated: There are always logical problems
inherent when people try to make movies or TV shows about what it's "like"
to be "inside" a computer. At no point do the filmmakers try
to change the essential rules of the Tron world (the "Grid")
in order to have it make any sense. Let's face it; the rules of Tron make
no sense whatsoever. Programs look like the people who programmed them?
Identity discs are used as weapons? There's weather!? Programs drink?
What the Hell are they drinking!? There could have been an attempt to
somehow update the way the computer space is represented to more closely
match what actually goes on in computers. But you know what? Screw that!
The movie introduced some ideas that really intrigue me, especially the
idea of the "Isomorphic Algorithms," which are independent artificial
intelligences that arose spontaneously out of the essential complexity
of the Grid. Computer Genesis. Flynn seems to believe that they'll be
somehow able to revolutionize all of human technology and philosophy,
but he's kind of nebulous as to exactly how. I also really liked the idea
of programs figuring out how to get out of the Grid into the real world.
It makes a weired kind of sense: if a human can be turned into a program,
and that program can be turned back into a human, why can't any program
be turned into a human?
Such ideas are only touched on briefly, though, and neither really amount
to anything. What does amount to something is the look and feel of the
film. It is simply gorgeous. The designs are all top-notch. It's all appealing
to look at, sleek, and chrome and sexy goodness. Huge lengths of the movie
are entirely computer generated (as opposed to the original Tron,
which actually only has about 20 minutes of actual CGI in it--bed you
didn't know that) and it all works well, and is a marvelous spectacle
to watch. At times, though, the special effects were almost too good I
think for their own good. One of the charms of the first Tron
was the obviousness of the fact that these were real actors walking around
in a blatantly unreal setting. Sometimes in Tron Legacy the virtual
sets were so realistic that it looked like actors walking around a real
location rather than a CGI location, and the magic kind of faded in those
instances. I kind of wish there were a little more color in the film,
too. The palette is pretty monochrome, with only flashes of red/orange/yellow
in the villains' glow lines.
The film is actually very well directed by first-time feature director
Kosinski, who is most well-known for making CGI commercials for video
games. The action is all very clear and precise, the camera knows where
to be when in order to get the best shots, and parts of the film that
are supposed to be thrilling are thrilling. He knows how to tell a visual
I really, really have to also give credit to Daft Punk for producing
an absolutely phenomenal score. I was surprised and delighted at how it
weaves both electronic and orchestral music in and out of each other.
It at times has the visceral power of Hans Zimmer's score for The
Dark Knight, at other times has eerie synthesized mood, and still
other times some thumping, kick-ass action. It integrates exceedingly
well into the movie. My pal Lawrence recommends you do not listen to it
while driving, lest it trick you into speeding and driving aggressively,
and I can definitely see that.
So it is not a masterpiece at all. As a movie, it is only middling. But
as an experience, Tron Legacy, like its predecessor, is a wondrous
state-of-the-art trip. I really enjoyed it. Don't know if I'll want to
own it, though. We'll see if its memory grows on me or not.