Monday, April 18, 2011

Tron Legacy

Directed by Joseph Kosinski.
2010. Rated PG, 126 minutes.
Jeff Bridges
Garrett Hedlund
Olivia Wilde
Bruce Boxleitner
Michael Sheen
James Frain
Beau Garrett
Anis Cheufra

Kevin Flynn (Bridges) disappeared in 1989 and has been presumed dead ever since. In news flashes from that era, we learn that he put technology company Encom on the map and was working on the biggest, bestest thing ever when he vanished. This follows the events of the original Tron, a goofy but groundbreaking 1982 movie that didn’t do as well as anticipated at the box-office but has since developed a huge following. It’s following is huge enough Disney thought there was money in giving us a sequel almost thirty years later. In the original, Kevin accidentally finds a way to physically get inside the inner most workings of a computer. Once there, he finds programs to be like a group of very angry people. It’s like everyone’s hemorrhoids all flared up at once, or something. A few of the less angry folks became the good guys. So, of course, there were villains and Kevin had himself a grand adventure. It was so grand, he began to feel that the answers to all of mankind’s problems were in this world. I told you he was working on the bestest thing ever, right?

Mr. Flynn left behind a very young son who had already lost his mother. His name is Sam (Hedlund). Fast forward to the present. As you can imagine, growing up without either of his parents has left him with some issues. By the way, he was taken care of by his grandparents until they died a few years later. Of course they did, they looked to be in their early to mid thousands when they got him. Basically, what all this means is that Sam likes sabotaging Encom’s best laid plans even though he’s the biggest shareholder in the company. After his latest stunt, his dad’s old buddy tells him that someone paged him from Kevin’s old office from a number that’s been disconnected for over twenty years. Yes, I said someone paged him. For you young’uns who don’t know what a pager is, it’s a miniature version of that giant thing they give you at restaraunts when the waiting list is ridiculous. Only when someone dialed the number to your personal pager, you then broke your neck trying to get to the nearest phone and call them back. If you weren’t at home or work that actually meant resorting to finding a pay phone since most of us didn’t have phones in our pocket. Pay phone? Do they even have those anymore? Do doctors even use pagers nowadays? I dunno. Let’s move on.

Sam goes to check out dad’s old digs. Whaddya know? It’s the arcade from the first movie, only it is now abandoned and has been sitting there for two decades. Nothing has been touched, except for tarps being thrown over everything. Other than some dust, it’s all in tact. Even the electricity still works. Kevin must’ve wrote the power company a massive check before he got missing. Anyhoo, Sam wanders around, finds the secret passageway leading to pop’s still functioning computer. After a few tries, he guesses the old man’s password and voila! He’s actually inside the computer on “the grid.” I hate when that happens.

Well, programs are still angry so as soon as he gets there, Sam is dropped into some gladiator type games. He survives and is taken to his father. Not so fast, my friend. He’s actually taken to Clu, the program his father made in his own image. Yes, there are lots of allusions to Christianity. Imagine a movie that examines religion, includes a guy with a God complex and pumped full of special fx. Wait a sec. How did you know I was thinking of The Matrix or Superman Returns, or Tron, or…n-n-nevermind. I want to get through this. Eventually, Sam is taken to his real father, often referred to as “The Creator.” See? Since Clu is the fallen angel type trying to take over things Kevin, Sam and Quorra (Wilde) trying to escape through the portal ensues. I haven’t mentioned Quorra, yet? She’s the sexy program that hangs around “The Creator” and does his dirty work. You see, Kevin is much more New Testament benevolence than Old Testament wrath so he prefers to avoid all the conflict. Besides, she not only completes the trinity, she reminds us a lot of Trinity, too. Yup, I’m referencing The Matrix again. The movie does this a lot, as well.

The rest of the film falls into many of the same traps as the original. The visuals are fascinating, often stunning and sufficiently drive the action sequences. Those action scenes can be lots of fun, especially the ones involving the light-cycles and later light-planes. What’s between those scenes is convoluted to the point of incoherence. It’s logic is often faulty and some things aren’t nearly transparent enough. For instance, it comes to light that Clu wants to take over the real world by escaping through the portal himself. Huh? Someone please explain how this works. When my pc repair guy pulls out a motherboard does he risk being attacked? To make matters worse, Legacy takes itself way too seriously. There’s no humor, the score is ominous and the landscape is bleak. By the way, I had no idea the inside of my computer looked like a post-apocalyptic wasteland somehow filled with neon lights. The overwhelming silliness doesn’t match the tone. The original does offer some humor, realizing its own inherent absurdity. Seriousness works in something like The Dark Knight, which actually did have lots of humor, because despite it being about a guy dressed as a giant bat fighting a psychotic clown, its world resembles our own. The world of Tron Legacy does not. This world is a mashup of a number of other sci-fi flicks through the years including its predecessor.

At long last, I’ve finally come to the end of this review but do so with much consternation. I’ve been clueless about what’s really going on with every keystroke I make. Wars may have been fought because I backspaced over characters I didn’t mean to type. My Microsoft Word may be mounting a revolt right now. I work it like a slave. Finally, my heart is heavy. I deleted a program this morning. Did it die peacefully in its sleep? Or did I unknowingly send my system’s stormtroopers to perform a violent killing?

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