Jeff Bridges Face-Off: “TRON: Legacy”

So I gave a rather glowing review of True Grit in my last post, and in fact I plan to see it for a third time in theaters up here in Bellingham. Needless to say, I liked that movie. So why, on my second viewing, did I choose to see that over a second shot at TRON: Legacy (and even when the latter was offered in 3-D)?

Because TRON: Legacy is beautiful, but boring. And not even two copies of Jeff Bridges can resonate enough awesomeness to give it that spark of animation (lolz, most of the movie is CGI) that would bring me back a second time — or even entice me to pay more than $0 for a ticket.

You might also blame it on the fact that I finished a book no less game-changing than William Gibson’s Neuromancer the night before. So yeah.

Back to TRON. The plot is standard: Guy gets sucked into a virtual world where anthropomorphic programs want to kill him. The original 1982 movie did it first on the big screen and (as far as I know) invented that neon-tube chic that colors my perception of any cyber-punk-space with a vaguely 1980s kernel. No matter that I haven’t actually seen the original TRON; no matter that it’s not even a very good movie, from what I’ve read. The fact remains, when I read Snow Crash, I basically made it look like TRON in my mental movie theater. It probably helps that Neal Stephenson published that book in 1992, a decade after the movie, and might have picked up a visual cue or two from it (whereas TRON probably owes a lot of debt to Neuromancer…).

Okaaay. So in the original it was Bridges’ Kevin Flynn that went digital, and now in this one it’s his son, Sam (played by Garett Hedlund) who gets welcomed to the machine while searching for Flynn after getting a mysterious message from a disconnected phone l— you know what, it doesn’t particularly matter.

The world of TRON is very 80s retro-future neon glitz, but it’s also kinda stark. The aesthetic fits, given the digi-Nazi dystopia that’s currently in place thanks to Flynn’s electronic alter ego CLU. But it’s really unfortunate that the script follows suit; I swear there are probably thirty solid minutes where the characters are just sitting around, sometimes talking. Isn’t this supposed to be an action movie?

There are some other good points in addition to the visuals: Daft Punk’s soundtrack is pretty awesome, even speaking as a non-Daft Punk fan. And Olivia Wilde is quite attractive as Sam’s chaste cyber-sexual love interest, Quorra:

 Quite attractive.

What sucks the most about TRON is that it gives a really sick moral to the target demographic of young, impressionable tween-teen boys: If you could go into cyberspace, you might be able to come out with your very own copy of Olivia Wilde. How their dreams will be crushed, once they find out that the Internet is 95% stuff like this, or this.

Oh, and note to filmmakers: it’s rather lulzy of you to have your “evil hacker” character (played by Cillian Murphy in hipster glasses, uncredited) use a UNIX shell to save ENCOM’s new operating system from a security breach, and then go on to say how said operating system is so closed-source, blah blah blah screw the customer &c. A U N I X shell. Yep.

Rating: 68%.

Rent it (in Blu-Ray, probably). I’d estimate 75% or higher if you saw it in IMAX 3-D, since the visuals are one of the film’s better qualities.