Getting swept up in childhood nostalgia can be a dangerous thing. The problem with it is that you fondly remember things from your childhood, even though in actuality, those things weren’t that great. For example, about five or six years ago, I was browsing through a used DVD section of a store and came across “Transformers: The Movie”. Quickly, memories of how much I worshiped that movie flew into my head. I immediately bought it and went home to watch it. Turns out, it’s terrible. Every single moment of it. So much so, that I felt post-shame for being an adult and taking that DVD to the check out counter. Turns out, my sense of what is a good or bad movie wasn’t really formed when I was ten.
You can imagine how poor that sense was when I was seven, which is when I saw the original “Tron”. In my mind, even to this day, “Tron” is fantastic. Of course, I probably haven’t seen it in 20 years. So going into “Tron: Legacy”, there was nothing but fond memories of blue guys fighting red guys while riding sweet motorcycles. I don’t remember a word of dialogue and I barely remember the character names. That’s to be expected at such a young age. I saw “Tron: Legacy” on Saturday night. This morning, my recollection of it is just about the same as the original from 20 years ago.
This sequel, which is very loosely dependent on the original movie, is quite the disappointment. The story was fairly ridiculous, the dialogue was cliched, and the star, Garret Hedlund, had a lot more Keanu in him than The Dude. In fact, there were really only types of scenes in “Tron: Legacy” that didn’t leave me bored. Those that were without the genius of Jeff Bridges and those that did not show off the dazzling visuals and sounds. Believe me, as cool as it is to hear Bridges say things like “you’re really throwing off my Zen thing man”, the rumbling sound and open mouth stunning effects are the star of the show.
For those not familiar with the story, Kevin Flynn (Bridges) was the CEO of a large computer corporation and he mysteriously disappeared 20 years ago. His son, Sam (Hedlund), grows up to be a slacker kid with a trust fund, only showing up at his pop’s company to play elaborate pranks. One night, Kevin’s partner Alan (Bruce Boxleiter, who was Tron in the original flick) tells Sam about a text he received from Kevin’s old office at his arcade. Sam goes to answer the text and then is sucked into the computer world (called The Grid) via laser. To be perfectly honest with you, I’m completely okay with that set up.
Once Sam is on The Grid, the wheels start to fly off this lightcycle. Turns out, there is an evil computer program called CLU (played by a CGI-de-aged Bridges) that wants to leave The Grid and get into the real world. Never mind how preposterous that is, because it turns out there are other programs that just showed up at some point in The Grid, programs that were not created by a person. Somehow, these programs that just popped up could be used in the real world to cure disease and change the world. At least, that’s what we learn from Flynn once he shows up, trapped in The Grid for the past 20 years.
The story really bogs down and becomes a bit of a father-son reunion tale, but with some really bad dialogue. All it does is get in the way of what may be the most technically amazing move I’ve ever seen. Forget “Avatar”. “Tron: Legacy” blows it out of the water. From the second that Sam shows up on The Grid, it’s a Thanksgiving feast for your eyes and ears. Not only did I finally enjoy a 3D movie, I found myself staring at the background and all the pretty lights even during the boring plot exposition moments. Every single effect, whether it be a ship or tank or plane, looked completely real. My biggest problem with CGI is that most of it looks too cartoony. Not once did I say to myself, “That just simply doesn’t look real.” This is a completely believable world inside a computer and director Joseph Kosinski is going to be force to be reckoned with for quite some time.
It’s easy to throw around superlatives, but I’ve never heard a movie with such perfect sound in my life. It is perfectly mixed and nothing is too loud or too quiet. You can make out every single effect and every spoken word. There’s really no need to even nominate other movies for the visual and sound categories at the Academy Awards. In fact, mark my words, “Tron: Legacy” will win more Oscars than any other 2010 film.
In the end, “Tron: Legacy” was still a bit of a disappointment. While I’m not a big action movie person, there simply was far too much wordy exposition and not enough disc tossing, light cycle fights. In fact, if Jeff Bridges wasn’t the one speaking, I pretty much tuned completely out. If you are going to see it and there’s an IMAX theater near you, I definitely recommend checking it out there. The sound alone makes it worth the price.