Film and TV

Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
TRON: Legacy

Title: TRON: Legacy

When Did The First One Come Out Again? 1982. Italy won the World Cup and the Lakers won the NBA championship. It was a different time, man.

Dumbest Thing Overheard In The Theater: "Wait, Tron was a person?"

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: One-and-a-half Master Control Programs out of five.

Tagline: "The game has changed."

Better Tagline: "Yet the plot remains the same."

Brief Plot Synopsis: Sam, son of long-missing game programmer Kevin Flynn, responds to a mysterious page from his father's office and is transported to the same computer realm his father explored decades ago.

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Young Sam (Garrett Hedlund) is head shareholder of ENCOM, dad Kevin's old company, but his involvement is limited to committing an annual prank (in this case, releasing the company's new OS on the internet for free). Kevin has been missing for over 20 years, until he apparently sends a page to old partner Alan (Bruce Boxleitner) from his arcade office. Sam reluctantly checks it out and is zapped back to The Grid, where he not only finds Dad's old program Clu (a computer generated "young" Bridges) running the show, but the mysterious Quorra (Olivia Wilde), and dear old dad as well.

Is Tron Himself Back? Yes...and no.

"Critical" Analysis: Labeling this film a "disappointment" really only makes sense if you were expecting it to be good in the first place, or had some kind of irrational love for the first TRON, a movie that never lived up to its impressive visual accomplishments.

Don't get me wrong, the graphics in Legacy are stunning. Where the 1982 version of The Grid looked like a souped-up version of "Battlezone," TRON: Legacy really ups the ante in terms of what they can put on the screen. And in 3-D IMAX the effects are truly something to behold.

But you can't hang an entire movie on pretty lights, and director Joseph Kosinski (he directed that "Mad World" commercial for the Gears of War video game) doesn't appear to have learned any lessons from the first TRON's shortcomings. Namely, that without an interesting plot or compelling characters, eventually all you get from the FX is a headache.

Worse, they haven't even bothered to expand The Grid in a meaningful way. Aside from a more massive games arena (apparently there's also a cyber version of Jerry Jones) and more detailed cityscapes, the only tangible addition is something called the End of the Line club, a night spot from programs lorded over by the inexplicably (and annoyingly) flamboyant Castor (Michael Sheen).

It's been 30 years since TRON, goddammit, and the biggest change to this fantasic world is the introduction of something called midochlori...oh sorry, "isomorphic algorithms," and the fact that somehow Kevin Flynn managed to bring his library with him into cyber exile.

Hell, the plot hasn't even changed. Once again, a program obsessed with efficiency and perfection wants to take over the human world Only this time instead of Sark, we have Clu, and instead of taking over the Pentagon, the bad guy wants to "perfect" humanity. The sequence of disc/lightcycle battle - chase - escape to the portal is also the same. And they even ride a frigging "solar sailer" like the first movie. This time there are fighter jets, though, so there's something.

As for the computer generated younger version of Bridges, I really didn't have that much of a problem with it. Probably because harping on (mild) complaints about lack of realism in Clu's facial expressions while ignoring the rest of the film's problems would be like noticing your odometer wasn't working as your car goes off a cliff.

Honestly, I wasn't expecting a hell of a lot, but somehow TRON: Legacy faled to meet even those dismal expectations. What a waste.

See It/Rent It/Skip It: Skip it, buy the Daft Punk soundtrack, and listen to it while you play the old video game, which at least has spiders.

Tron:Legacy is in theaters today. If you're not going to an IMAX screening, don't bother.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar