Tron, I noted the upcoming sequel and stated that from the trailers it appeared this very late follow up would have none of the elements in it that made the original a classic. Now that I've seen Tron Legacy, I can confirm the truth of that statement. The unique computer animation styles seen in the first Tron are replaced by slick CGI graphics. Very polished, but so ubiquitous to moviegoers that it is simply expected to be part of any sci-fi film today. The visuals, characterization, and score have taken on a heavier and darker feel. Given the conceptual connection between Tron and the The Matrix, it is not surprising that this new version seeks to capitalize on the latter's successful fusion of sci-fi and stylism, sometimes rather gratiutiously (the original film took no interest in flaunting beautiful girls in tights). Every visual that was employed before has been fed into a computer and embellished in great detail. It adds nothing to the telling of the story except flashy visuals that are even less appealing than the simpler forms from which they were derived.
Once I had accepted that this sequel would not be like the original, I at least held out a little bit of hope that an original story might allow it to take on a life of its own. Here is where we find the greatest disappointment. In 1980, the story in the real world was an interesting plot in its own right, and the computer world simply paralleled it in a way that actually made some sense. In this film, the reverse has happened. The evil plot comes from the computer world and intends to invade the real one. Instead of a clever allegory, we have the usual one-dimensional villain-wants-to-take-over-the-world idea. So much time is spent on the battles and flashy special effects that there is only minimal room for character development, which is a shame because it is the characters and their relationships that aim to be the meat of the story this time around. All the other peripheral characters are nothing more than a means to some end. Tron himself is only seen in a last minute Han Solo type rescue without ever really interacting with him (probably because programs aren't supposed to age like Boxleiter's character in real life does). The supposed helper, Zeus, who turns out to be a turncoat was never anything more than a silly showman anyway. How disappointed can you be at a betrayal when you never took the guy seriously? I'm afraid the script is of no real significance.
Olivia Wilde, is by far the most interesting character in the film. It is refreshing to see a beautiful lead female play a character that is not essentially a love interest, although she is definitely loved. She plays the innocence angle very convincingly and I think we will be seeing more of her in future films. On the positive, the CGI work was integrated with some really nice sets in a way where you could not tell what was live set and what was not. All said, in spite of the huge promotional effort, I recommend waiting for the rental unless you want to see the 3D effects (I did not), which might prove entertaining.
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