Disney has spent a lot of time since 1982 when the original Tron came out, just waiting for the perfect moment to make a gigantic blockbuster sequel that dazzles everyone into syaing ‘Wow, if only we were cool enough to see the original one when it came out!’ This whole movie seems like a giant ego stroke for Disney to say ‘No, we didn’t fail back then, you just didn’t like the obvious greatness we made.’ Well, is this sequel obvious greatness or should they have just left it alone?
The Story: Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) becomes a computer guru in the real world, but then mysteriously vanishes. Years later his son, Sam (Garret Hedlund) has become more of a trouble maker than a business leader due to his father’s abscence. However, after their old buddy Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) gets a distressing page from Kevin, Sam vsits the old arcade and discovers his dad’s old workshop. And wouldn’t you know it, ‘accidentally’ gets transported to Cyber Space. There he meets his dad’s darker alter ego Clu and his computer created sidekick/digital disciple Quorra (Olivia Wilde). The all spend the rest of the movie fighting/helping eachother trying to get back to real life land.
So, this movie has a lot of good and bad things. And in order to properly talk about it, I would like to take this opportunity to discuss a slightly new format. Obviously, the beginning of the review is the same, and here, there will be a general review. However after that, there will be a more detailed account of the movie, calling into specifics what I like and dislike. This part will obvously have Spoilers. After that section, there will be a conclusion and the Final Grade…
Basic Review: A lot of people are probably asking themselves ‘Why?’ Why make a Tron sequel now? Well, Why not? Disney is never one to throw away a possible franchise, even if that movie was a huge flop almost three decades ago.
But you know what? Disney has hada lot of experience over the past years to help them make this an entertaining vehicle for the fans of the original and new ones as well. I watched the original just for this movie and I have to say, the Original was pretty good for what it was. A very basic chase film with dazzling special effects. And what is this movie…? A slightly more complicated chase film with even more dazzling special effects. It works.
Now, there are tons of confusing things about this movie. They made the back story to Flynn’s disappearence and computer entrapment a little more complicated than it had to be and certainly did not capitalize on some of the character build up they could have had. If you follow the story for what it is, there’s nothing too wild about it, but I just felt more confused not by specific plot points but why the writers would go in that direction when something more fun or time better spent on something else could have been done.
And yet, this movie was one of the most fun to look at this year. Inception had a bunch of ‘heady’ visuals but this movie was pure fun. From Special Effects to Set Design and Costumes, the people behind the scenes had free range to go as far as their imigination would let them. Inside a computer, nothing has to make sense, which means everything can look awesome. Also, I saw this movie in 3D IMAX. That’s the only way to go for something this fun.
Now, there were definitely some parts where I was laughing at the movie. Ridiculous plot devices or basic formula writing does that. And the movie at times is very clearly a by the books fun ride. However at other times it tries to get a little more in depth, trying to talk about the nature of humans and introducing some not so subtle Eastern Philosophy lines inbetween silly computer term heavy plot driven scenes. But you know what, for every moment that is silly and stupid, there are moments where the new movie not only embraces, but empowers everything that made the original cheesy and ‘endearing’.
Lastly, before hitting the spoilers, Daft Punk’s score was great. Definitely was just the kind of music the movie needed. It could have gone traditional, having it sound like something else Post-Matrix, but instead it became something new. With Trent Reznor doing Social Network and Daft Punk doing this, and both doing a great job, I would say look for more Famous Musicians to start doing Film Scores (also… The RZA has been at it for quite a while now).
Spoilers! So here are the things that specifically pissed me off. One, the whole flashback scenes. I think there are two total, but don’t show anything that happened in the past. Talk about it, in a sentence or two, and move on. We get it. Clu is bad. Tron died, oh nope, wait he didn’t. He is a badguy now. And for no apperant reason. Why was Tron bad? His decision to be bad makes NO sense then his decision to become good again makes NO sense. They wasted a huge character build up. Hell not even build up, a complete arc was missing here. Tron was one of the most badass character in the movie. A binary assassin badass who got the job done. The Digital Darth Vadar to Clu’s empire. He was awesome. Then at the end he goes ‘Oh right I’m a good guy’ and gets blown up and falls into some water pit where he may or may not be dead? Come on.
Speaking of poorly characters, Kevin Flynn was two different characters. And I don’t mean Clu and Flynn. I mean buddhist badass and hippie computer geek. There will be moments, where in one scene, he will spout out Eastern Philosophical quips, then end the scene in something like ‘Can you like, totally dig that man?’ It just doesn’t work. I say go for the badass. Lose ‘The Dude’ side of him. He’s been trapped in this computer for years. Decades. Exiled away with but one other person.
The epitomy of this comes in the Zuse’s Bar scene (Daft Punk’s Cameo got a couple cutaways too many. After a few I was like ‘Okay I get it. They are IN the movie. Its cool. Lets move on…). And I loved how Zuse was his own secretary, himself, then a traitor. My only thing is it would have been cooler if with every shift he slightly changed. Just his tone (The way Michael Sheen played it though was definintely some welcome energy into the movie). Maybe go from energetic, to somber, to completely nuts. But I love d Zuse’s bar. Sam being sent there by Quorra. Zuse’s Chick Sidekick. The music. The set. The build up of all the stories and major players coming together. The action. Then of course Kevin Flynn comes in and shuts the whole place down, like a complete badass. However, everything in this scene, all the build up and lovely execution is brought to a screeching halt with Flynn’s line to his son, something along the lines of ‘Like, we totally gotta go man.’
Really? Who thought that was the best line and delivery for that moment? Who watched that and after that line felt really good about themselves? No. Just no. This scene is what was wrong with the movie and what baffles my mind about the people who made it. There was SOOOOO much cool stuff going on and then the stupidest stuff would find its way in as well.
But there is some really cool stuff. First of all the pacing. Sam goes from the Bitstream Flynn’s Arcade to being picked up by one of those flying things to completely understanding where he was to the Disc Games to meeting Clu to the Bike Games to being broken out to meeting his dad all in the time span of like 30 or 40 minutes. It moves. It moves well. The only slow moments are when they go into the flashbacks. Flynn’s whole backstory within the computer could have been shorter, and Tron could have been given more.
The build up to the Games was a little wasted as well, but big kudos for having Rinzler/Tron have two Discs and having the Bike Games have multiple people per team and multiple levels (when Clu crushed that guy just as Sam was handing him back the Bike Stick, THAT was badass, and unexpected for Disney).
I can’t say it enough. Zuse’s was amazing. Loved the baddies entrance and the immediate call to action, as well as Quorra’s entrance and way she protected Sam. Olivia Wilde was gorgouesly mesmerizing as Quorra and played it like the future of her Movie Career depended on it (which it does). She gave the character her all. Even the stupid silly moments (The Jules Verne bit) was played exactly the way it should have been. And her action scene’s were good. The only thing is I would have like to see one scene where after losing her arm, she still kicks ass, one armed.
In ConCLUsion: So in the end this movie was for fans of the original. The fast paced no nonsense script and the hieghtening of The Games and the stakes is something that you can understand without having seen the first, but are more greatly appreciate with it. It is a sequel.
In addition to being for fans of the first, that is also who this movie will alienate the most as well. The script spends too much time dwelling on things it doesn’t need to and has some really stupid moments that sandwhich the moments that are completely awesome.
Its the mindless summer action blockbuster we didn’t get this year but not quite worth all the hype being laid before it.
Final Grade: B [An average of half the movie being completely average (C) and half the movie being completely awesome (A).]