I have to admire the folks at Disney. When they want to market a movie, they market a movie. Tron: Legacy followed me around all year, whether it was the big Tron Press Conference at Wondercon, to their Comic-Con panel, to their weekly Tron emails and video releases the movie was in my face. Even with all that marketing and pr work I somehow managed to avoid having all of that material “spoil” me because, shhhh…. Don’t tell the Disney PR folk, but I simply didn’t watch most of it, I posted a lot of the clips and I missed the Press Conferences (not on purpose, just had conflicts and sent other people to cover them). So despite their best efforts I walked into the movie fairly “cold.”
My concerns going in where A) it’s in 3D and I’ve made it clear how much I loathe the format and B) Tron just has never been my thing. The first thing you should know is the screening was on iMax 3D. It’s extremely rare the studio screens a movie in iMax so that was a real treat. Yeah we had the “fake” Max but the screen was large and beautiful with an amazing audio system. The 3D was projected flawlessly so I didn’t have a single complaint in that department so I was able to actually focus on the movie.
Many people are complaining that the movie is all visuals and no story, but I would have to completely disagree. I actually loved the story. It is a simple conceit a man’s invention goes out of control. It is another movie that proves my point that Artificial Intelligence is a bad, bad thing.
In this case it’s in the form of Clu (Jeff Bridges) who was designed to build a perfect virtual world while it’s creator Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is able to traipse about the real world. Out of all the cutting edge effects in this movie its the “Youngification” of Bridges for the part of Clu is downright freaky. Never once when watching this movie did I feel it was distracting, it comes across as completely natural and Bridges was a completely different person. I didn’t watch any of the clips, so I can only assume this was done through CGI. It really is a complete breakthrough in movie making and opens the world of possibilities for sequels that can go “forever.” Imagine a new Star Trek with the original cast all “Youngified?” Or how about another Trilogy of Star Wars featuring just slightly older versions of the original cast?
Beyond de-aging Bridges, the other visual affects were quite good. The first time you see the Tron ships; on a big iMax screen in 3D, with the perfect audio, was truly awe inspiring. You could almost feel the building shaking as these big, ugly looking ships descended on our hapless heroes. The 3D did provide a good sense of depth in some scenes, but this is another issue that I have with 3D movies. When it works, it makes other portions of the film seem really flat because most movies aren’t 100 percent 3D, only “select” portions. It’s the same with Tron: Legacy the entire thing wasn’t filmed in 3D so the long scenes that didn’t involve big action set pieces end up looking flat and lifeless.
I don’t know anything about Daft Punk but their soundtrack for Tron: Legacy was a perfect blend of contemporary techno – pop that worked perfectly with the material. There were a couple of moments when the sound track sounded a lot like Batman Begins, but for the most part it fit this material perfectly.
Apart from Bridges the movie really hinges on the performance Garrett Hedlund (who I never heard of before Tron) and he gives the character of Sam Flynn a nice emotional center. I felt his sense of awe and wonder when he first enters the world of Tron and his feelings of disappointment when he meets his father for the first time. This is the type of role Sam Worthington would have been cast in last year and would have ruined. Hedlund does just enough to keep you interested and caring about what’s going to happen next. As the emotional center of the movie, he works really well and the SFX never seems to overwhelm him.
I walked in with no expectations and came away falling in love with this movie and it’s unique world, Tron: Legacy in iMax 3D is a rousing success.
Final Grade A
EM Review by
Originally posted 12.18.2010