Wednesday, December 15, 2010

TRON: LEGACY - Awesome Visuals, Crappy Plot

TRON: LEGACY (sci-fi fantasy)
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner, Michael Sheen, James Frain and Beau Garrett
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Screenplay: Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis from a story by Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal
Time: 127 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)

Olivia Wilde and Garrett Hedlund as Quorra and Sam Flynn

PREAMBLE: I don't like to do the 'good-news, bad-news' routine here but I can think of no better way to present the merits and demerits of Tron: Legacy to you. The good news is that this sequel to the 1982 Tron is a visual feast of state-of-the-art CGI in 3D. On its technical merit, it is worth 3.5 stars. The bad news is that the narrative is so confusing and crappy that no one should ever try to understand it. On this score, it is 1.5 stars, giving us the average rating above.

It is obvious that Disney is banking on Tron: Legacy as its Christmas blockbuster. It will probably stir up a storm at the box-office among its legions of curious young fans - and then retire to the 'END of LINE' after a few weeks.

THE SKINNY: Entrepreneur and arcade owner Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) disappears at the height of his success, leaving his young son Sam (Garrett Hudlund) to be brought up by his grandparents. Years later, after receiving a pager message, Sam finds his way to the abandoned arcade and gets himself zapped into the data stream of a video-game where he has to fight off a bunch of digital gladiators with neon-lit discs and on light-cycles.

Soon, however, he meets a mysterious programme called Quorra (Olivia Wilde) and she takes him to be reunited with his father. From his old man, Sam discovers that all is not well with Dad's creation - and it is up to him and Quorra to set things right.

HITS AND MISSES: Unlike most other 3D films these days, Tron: Legacy is not totally shot in 3D. Its intro sequences in the real world are in 2D but it slips into three-dimensional when we are transported into the Game Grid where the action reaches its pulse-racing heights. The sequences of the Grid are breath-takingly futuristic and yet they remind us of the Eighties at the same time. Here we find hacker program CLU (a younger version of Bridges) trying to create a 'perfect world' according to his own reckoning. However, instead of plot development, we get a whole bunch of computer jargon like 'the Purge', 'Portal' 'isomorphic algorithms' and 'derezz' (de-resolution, resulting in deletion) that are more confusing than clarifying. The music score by Daft Punk keeps the mood and the action hot and pulsating.

Among the cast, Jeff Bridges is made to look like an Eighties hippie who is lost or trapped in the cyberworld where he gets turned into a pseudo-deity; Hedlund acquits himself well enough as the new action hero; Bruce Boxleitner, downgraded from starring role in the original to cameo here as Alan Bradley, lends a touch of nostalgia; while Michael Sheen spices things up as the suave disco-owner Zuse. The most impressive performance comes from Olivia Wilde (left) who plays an ISO (or isomorphic algorithm) who has all the 3 Bs - beauty, brawns and brains. This is basically a movie for the computer-savvy generation. For others, it is like watching a computer game where the combatants throw lighted frisbees at one another and race on motorbikes.

THE LOWDOWN: With so much hype generated, this sequel is bound to stir up controversy and debate among fans. If you're not a fan, it's best to stay away.


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