Friday, December 17, 2010

TRON: Legacy [ Movie Review ] ***

After 28 years, the sequel to the cult favorite TRON is finally making it's way to the screens. Like all computer programs, it's getting a makeover with an update on the visual and special effects. But can TRON: Legacy change the track record of the previous TRON's box office collection and attracts both the old and new fans? Can it modify the story into something more accessible for the casual viewers to appreciate or even make the story better than it's predecessor?

This time round, TRON Legacy is basically about a son's search for his dad in the digital world of the Grid. Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), the hero from the original TRON had suddenly gone missing. "Abandoning" his son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) for many years, the story starts when his friend Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) suddenly received a page from Flynn's Arcade that had been closed for years. Initially reluctant, Sam finally visited the abandoned arcade to investigate the source of the page. After fiddling around with arcade games, Sam discovered a secret passage to his dad's workplace and accidentally activated the teleporter that digitize / teleport him into the Grid.

Upon arrival, Sam was quickly captured and sent to play the deadly games. Using his survival skills, wits and an unexpected aid from a pretty warrior (Olivia Wilde), Sam managed to escape the games and is reunited with his dad. It turned out that this time round, its' Kevin's program CLU ( a younger Jeff Bridge ~ the power of movie magic) that's up to no good. Entrapping Sam and keeping Kevin stranded in the digital world, CLU is planning to use the trapped father and son to carry his sinister plan.

Without a doubt, the biggest draw for Tron Legacy would be the update on the visual feast (special effects and costume / set design) and Draft Punk's contribution to the movie soundtrack. The blazing disc war and lightcycles were constructed to wow. It's well worth the ticket money to see how the world of Tron has been stylishly fabricated for the 21st century.

Another unexpected highlight would be how Tron Legacy play up the reunion between father and son.   The setup for the separation between Sam and Kevin didn't feel like a tedious wait before the good time (in the Grid) could start rolling. In fact, it was well handled and well acted by the duo that the audience could relate to their longing for each other without the need of overdoing it.

Dude, I'm not your Father

Tron Legacy pays plenty of homage to the original flick. From reusing the CLU character as the main villain to Sam making the similar remark as his dad did to a very big door, this movie is filled with nods to what had came before. But after a while, it started to feel more like a reboot than an actual sequel.

Such as the obligatory disc war, lightcycles, escaping from the Grid and the restarting the source were the very same path that Kevin had taken in the original TRON. Although various elements had changed, it make one wonder why doesn't TRON Legacy branch out more as a story of it's own.

Even the flawed story in the first TRON didn't get much update in the second TRON movie. While the first one was rather inaccessible to the casual viewers, the second one had a storyline that's too convenient. Just when our heroes are clueless on what to do next, a Solar Sailer appears right beside them to take them where the story wants them to be. It also mind boggling to know that Sam arrival into the Grid was a trap by CLU and yet Sam had to go through dangerous games that could end his life. If CLU was being a wise tactician, the script certainly didn't make that aspect shine.

With a tagline that declared The Game Has Changed, it make one wonder did the sequel really change much from what had already been established in the first movie. Beside the change in players / user, a little modification here and there, Tron Legacy is basically a rehash of prominent events that occurred in the original film. It's pretty to look at but without a good story, TRON Legacy ends up looking like a beautiful vase.

Worth the 3D price?

Like many other recent blockbuster movies, TRON: Legacy is presented in 3D. The only thing I could get out of this 3D presentation was the depth of field and the diminishing gradient. It's a pity as it marred my enjoyment of watching all the impressive visual and special effects in their full glory.

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