Friday, December 24, 2010

Tron: Legacy Review

Jason and I went out and saw Tron: Legacy last night. We were going to try to catch it in 3D, but, since I got the times wrong, we settled for the normal version.

There has been quite a bit of critical panning of the film and unadulterated nerd rage over it. This is bound to happen with any "big picture" film like this. Tron: Legacy is supposed to be a look inside the head of a technocrat, and this particular technocrat is a person whose mind is a generation ahead of what most critics have any connection with. A lot of the story is in the visuals, yet people who don't pay attention to the dialog or just dismiss it as nonsense because it invokes concepts many people sneer at, such as Zen philosophy won't get the story. They will see the screenplay as vague and poorly explained.

That's not to say that the screenplay is Shakespeare. It needs some tightening up here and there. A number of things need to be justified and explained better so that an overage of thought isn't required to work backwards and rationalize why some things happened. Still, there are some great ideas here that work very well which, in some ways, makes up for a less-than-perfect script. A recurring theme in the story centers around the illusion of perfection which makes complaining about the flaws ironic if taken too far.

We also need to remember that the iconic character in the film series is not Tron (whom, granted, we see very little of), it's Kevin Flynn. He's a hero to a generation of geeks, and is the originator of the modern "space cowboy" hacker persona. I love Jeff Bridges in this film, but, let's face it, the guy is old. After so much time, we can't expect him to slip back into the role, hence the inclusion of Sam Flynn and the "Legacy" part of Tron: Legacy.

What seeing the elder Flynn does for us is give us the idea that we're on a tour of Flynn's vast imagination set in a postmodern environment that we never saw. Kevin Flynn no doubt had all sorts of adventures on the Grid that we never had a chance to witness. Because of that, there's more than a bit of sad nostalgia when we see that Kevin Flynn is past his prime.

In short, it's a beautiful, visually stunning film with a lot of subtext and more than a few flaws. However, it was worth the price of admission and, like the original, will benefit from multiple viewings.

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