He Said - He Said ... TRON: Legacy Directed by: Joseph Kosinski Cast: Garrett Hedlund, Jeff Bridges, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner, Michael Sheen Running Time: 2 hr 6 mins Rating: PG Release Date: December 12, 2010
PLOT: Years ago, Kevin Flynn (Bridges) disappeared. Now his son Sam (Hedlund) stumbles onto the mystery of what happened to his father and ends up inside the grid to this sequel from 1982′s TRON.
Once Nick Allen saw that Jeff Bayer gave TRON: Legacy an 8/10 (click here to read the full review), he knew a He Said/He Said must be done. Once again, be aware that plot spoilers are discussed.
After so much time has passed since the first Tron movie, and after so many movies have been inspired by that film's vision, THIS is the sequel that Disney dumps onto audiences in the same release date that Avatar had last year. THIS is it. A partially 3D light show with a blander than bland lead actor, and two versions of Jeff Bridges. There was probably another script or two (or eight) floating around the studio. One can imagine Disney executives looking to restart the technology and computer-heavy franchise in an era and to a generation that could relate to it more than the original's audience. A movie like Tron could never be a sort of cult-hit like the first one were it to be released today. With visual tools like IMAX and 3D, we're ready for movies like Tron, and for the limitless imaginations within such stories. Hell, when a group like Daft Punk throws their name into the ring for a movie like Tron, it's not surprising. It's more like, "Yeah. Right about time."
But with all of that, this is the result. It's the type of movie that screams "Rewrite!" the first yawn in (about fifteen minutes). Garrett Hedlund gives Sam Worthington a run for his money who can be the blandest lead, the computer world looks too much just like Seattle on a really bad day, and I haven't even gotten to the story yet. Yes, lightcycles, still very cool. I am grateful that first-time director Joseph Kosinski didn't lose the grip on how much of a great spectacle lightcycles can be (though I am not sure they should actually be made into an arena event). At the same time, I can easily imagine Kosinski looking at his project in the editing room, trying to stomach the terrible dialogue, wondering why everything is so dark, wondering why he made Jeff Bridges yell at himself in a recording booth, and just wishing he was somewhere else.
There are more grievances, but it's time to share the floor. What worked for you? What really didn't? How do you feel it compared to the original?
Let me just say that I know that "it's me, not you." I enjoyed TRON. I also apparently understand that it should be in ALL CAPS when typed but don't let that immediately make you feel like I have won and you have lost. Seriously, you should keep trying to win this argument even though I have already declared I should know better. I shouldn't have liked this film. Or maybe, just maybe I don't have to listen to what all other film critics and fanboys seem to be shouting. Maybe I can just sit here and be happy with my big-screen experience.
I liked TRON: Legacy. There, I said it.
Let's start at the beginning, all the way back in 1982. TRON was slow. TRON was under-explained. Now, I don't know why, but TRON: Legacy decided to follow that same pattern. As I wrote in my review, Hedlund struts. That's what he does. He also has a chip on his shoulder. That's all that is required of him. While he doesn't nail that, he doesn't completely mess it up. He's not the one we're paying to see though, right? It's Bridges. I really liked everything about the characters that he played. I loved the odd, impressive CGI of Clu. I loved the zen of Kevin. More importantly, I loved that they brought Bridges back for a sequel that is almost 30 years old. Burce Boxlighter got the short end of the stick, but he's probably just happy to be there.
Now, you asked what I liked, and I gave you a little. But here's the thing. I loved the look and the sounds of this film. At times, it felt like this was my Avatar. I was in a hypnotic trance and there was no getting out of it. Going forward in this He Said/He Said, I will rip this story a new one, but just so you know it didn't affect my first viewing of this movie. I know, I know, normally I am all about the story, but this film crossed over from storytelling to simple entertainment for me. Maybe this kills my perspective for many, but it was like when I watched Mama Mia. It's not a good movie. It's good entertainment. That's what TRON: Legacy is for me.
So, when did you actually watch the original? Are you more angry at the existence of Avatar or TRON: Legacy? What's the biggest hole you noticed in the story? Did you know I am currently listening to the soundtrack by Daft Punk as I write this?
I have seen the original a few times, my first time being about five years ago. Even since then, I have admired TRON for all of the elements that eventually made it a cult hit, yet at the same time can't deny to myself that some parts are boring. I agree with what you say that "TRON was slow," etc. With this new update, coming years later, I expected a new TRON movie to have stretches of straight talking, but I didn't think it would be this dull.
I didn't expect that TRON: Legacy would be a fairytale. But with Disney's hands on it, hoping to primarily sell toys and get their own science-fiction franchise, I probably should have seen it coming. As a friend said, the second time I ventured into this mega-disappointment of a movie, TRON: Legacy should be more raw, or in his term, "cyber-punk." The movie is too clean cut for a sequel of something that became somewhat of a cult classic. It's like if The Shining were remade into a teen-date-night friendly PG-13 jump scare flick.
To answer your Avatar question, I'm not sure. Both listed films have pretty awful scripts. TRON: Legacy is shorter. Avatar looks better. Perhaps I'll side with Avatar, as those effects won't be beat for another five years or so. And because Avatar didn't pull the "Some scenes are in 2D" BS that TRON: Legacy did.
There were a lot of holes in the story, it's hard to pick a favorite. They range from head scratchers (Why does Sam have to pull a Dark Knight pose before parachuting into the police?) to even bigger questions like "Why doesn't Kevin Flynn use his god power more often to defeat Clu?"
Is the Daft Punk soundtrack adding any intensity to your thinking? Are you trying to process your thoughts like a computer? And speaking of that soundtrack, it's as if that was the closest TRON: Legacy got to having any hip edge to it. Daft Punk is usually a Pitchfork.com friendly group, and their inclusion in a movie like TRON: Legacy made for a very exciting headline. The results are fine, it's not one of the best scores this year certainly, but at least it stands for a good mixing of something different with something new.
Allow me to explode with many questions, big and small, that have thumped through my head both times I've seen this movie that was junkier than my junk slurpee drink that struggled to keep me awake during my second viewing. And no, I do not expect these to be answered. 1.) If you're going to use Cillian Murphy in a movie, do not give him a small role. Do not tease us with his presence for five minutes, and have us thinking at the end that we'll have to wait until the sequel (which probably won't happen) to see him in TRON action. What was with that? 2.) What the hell happened with the dialogue? Why does Sam speak in phrases that are professionally exhaled by action heroes? Did the screenwriters even try? Why do we have to cut back to Sam after something has happened so he can say something like, "Whoa"? 3.) Why does Tron himself have to have such a small part? And why does Kevin Flynn recognize Tron just by looking up, when all of the characters look the same? 4.) I thought Rinzler died about eight different times. Why does he get to use two discs? 5.) So, when people die they are turned to dust? 6.) Why is Garrett Hedlund a terribly boring presence, and how does his hair stay so perfect always? Didn't that haircut go out of style a few years ago? Or even with the late 90's? 6.) What the hell is with Disney's fascination with flamboyant rock star impersonations? First we had Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean, and now we have Michael Sheen's attempt of doing David Bowie. Was that supposed to be funny? 7.) Who thought that having Jeff Bridges vs. Jeff Bridges was a good idea? And why are the graphics of Clu's last moment so terrible? 8.) Why did they have to make a bigger TRON movie that strives to be more boring than the first?!!
With all of these questions blasting my brain cells like Daft Punk's score did to my ass in an IMAX theater, I'm not sure I'd even call this "good" "entertainment."
Please, proceed in ripping this story a new one. And while you're at it, do you have any significant history with the first movie? Do you like going to light shows or laser shows?
Let me answer your last question first, it's the easy way for my computer-like brain to process this information. I don't have a great history with TRON. I remember thinking that I was supposed to think the movie was cool when I was a kid. I remember trying to be good at the video game in the arcade, but never really pulling it off. I remember watching the film months ago on G4 and thinking it was pretty trippy and it aged in a really fun, dated way. That's about it. So maybe my low expectations helped. I never expected a great story from this film. Now, for all of the questions ... let's get to them.
Why doesn't Kevin Flynn use his god power more often to defeat Clu? Absolutely no clue. It's a huge issue for me. He runs away from Clu, yet everyone bows down to him at the bar, yet Kevin is more powerful at the end.
Is the Daft Punk soundtrack adding any intensity to your thinking? Absolutely. I loved the score. Every time the movie is "boring" I am content with the rhythms that Daft Punk is creating.
1.) If you're going to use Cillian Murphy in a movie, do not give him a small role. Do not tease us with his presence for five minutes, and have us thinking at the end that we'll have to wait until the sequel (which probably won't happen) to see him in TRON action. What was with that? First off, I love that you actually tack on a question to your rant because you released this wasn't a question. I assumed Murphy might show up at the end to prove he's the REAL bad guy, almost like how Kick-Ass ends. When he didn't my main question was, "Wow, I wonder how much money Murphy got paid for that scene and the potential sequel?" It simply amused me. Remember, the movie chip on my shoulder isn't as big as yours.
2.) What the hell happened with the dialogue? Why does Sam speak in phrases that are professionally exhaled by action heroes? Did the screenwriters even try? Why do we have to cut back to Sam after something has happened so he can say something like, "Whoa"? It does seem like the classic example of too many cooks in the kitchen with the screenplay. Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz wrote the screenplay and also have a "Story by" credit with Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal. It was treated as a brand instead of a story.
3.) Why does Tron himself have to have such a small part? And why does Kevin Flynn recognize Tron just by looking up, when all of the characters look the same? Tron has a smaller part in the original. Don't forget that. Tron is the only one to ever realize he has two hands, and with the two hands he could also hold two things and those two things can be discs. That answer is the easy one.
4.) I thought Rinzler died about eight different times. Why does he get to use two discs? Same answer as above. Now I am a little worried I missed something. Please explain if I am missing something here, he does have two hands, right?
5.) So, when people die they are turned to dust? Computer dust. Totally different.
6.) Why is Garrett Hedlund a terribly boring presence, and how does his hair stay so perfect always? Didn't that haircut go out of style a few years ago? Or even with the late 90's? Now you are upset about not being attracted to Garrett? Don't you have a girlfriend? Take this as a good sign. I didn't think he was THAT boring. I found him serviceable.
6.) What the hell is with Disney's fascination with flamboyant rock star impersonations? First we had Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean, and now we have Michael Sheen's attempt of doing David Bowie. Was that supposed to be funny? Yes. And it was funny. It was a jolt of energy and I totally appreciated it. It worked for me and other critics that I have spoken to. More importantly, your computer is broken. Apparently when you try to make lists, it repeats "6."
7.) Who thought that having Jeff Bridges vs. Jeff Bridges was a good idea? And why are the graphics of Clu's last moment so terrible? I loved Bridges vs. Bridges and the technology used to create this. Clu never looked completely real, but in this Tron universe, he's technically not real.
8.) Why did they have to make a bigger TRON movie that strives to be more boring than the first?!! I don't think it does strive for this. I think you feel it's more boring, while I disagree. Keep in mind, I didn't dislike my first viewing and then decide to watch it a second time so I could increase my hatred.
I can't believe you left out the most important flaw. Discs contain everything about you in this world. They are your most important possession. It's like your security card times one million. Especially when we are talking about Kevin's disc. So, why on Earth would you take your disc off your back and throw it toward anyone? Why would this be your weapon? Also, why wouldn't Kevin just go bury his disc so it could never be found? The disc is a huge flaw.
Also, what would have happened if Clu had gotten out? Would it have been him and maybe one thousand soldiers? Would they have had any power at all? Would there discs fly back to them? Seems like the police could have taken care of this problem and maybe the Army wouldn't have bothered helping out.
More importantly, why a second time? Why? What is the last big budget popcorn flick that worked for you? If a sequel does happen, what do you want the story to be about?
Bravo, Bayer. I threw all of my post-second viewing aggressions at you, and you fielded them well. I didn't see TRON: Legacy to hate it more, however. A pivotal reason is that a friend wanted to see it for his first time, and another reason was that I wanted to really check if the movie was as bad as I had remembered. I was disappointed to find out that it was even worse.
Going through the IMDb calendar, it appears that Unstoppable was my last positive experience with big budget action flicks. However, I would also like to throw in that The A-Team might be my favorite movie of that generalization of the year. (That movie, pretty much unlike this one, was a lot of fun.) The reasons for that will be explained very soon in my "Top 7 Underrated of 2010" post.
If there is a sequel, it would undoubtedly be about Cillian Murphy's character fighting with Sam about something involving the company, which I'm okay with. I would hope for more action in general, but overall it seems like the screenwriting brainwaves of TRON hit their "end of line" before even finishing this round.
Finally, as a person who is OK with TRON: Legacy, but even more with OK with pointing out the movie's many flaws, is this something you have been recommending to just anyone? Or do you have to preface it as, "It's a bad movie, but still worth your fifteen dollars"?
Great question with asking if I have been recommending the movie to just anyone. The answer is "no." But if someone says, "I was thinking about seeing TRON." Then I will explain it's a visually awesome movie, that is slow in parts and has a couple of cool action sequences. That's my short answer. It really does seem that TRON is a film based on expectations. You talk about already being cool with the sequel (if they make it). I totally agree with you. If they speed it up a little, I think they'll have a hit on their hands. I have decided one thing ... we're not going to hit the 3,000 word mark on a movie that I think looks pretty and is a good time ... Oops. Too late. Instead I will just end this round of He Said with, "I fight for the users!" Users in this case being people that liked the original and thought the second was a step in the right direction.