Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tron Legacy

I’ve been seeing pieces of Tron Legacy for three years – I can’t tell you how excited I was to finally see the pieces put together in finished form. I remember all the milesetones for this films production – most of them happened at Comic-Con: when they did test shots to show to see if the audience even had interest in a sequel to Tron, when they changed the name from Tr2n to Tron Legacy, when Daft Punk was announced as doing the score, and when the cast was revealed to include Bruce Boxleitner and a 35 year old Jeff Bridges. The point is, Tron Legacy had big shoes to fill for me, and I am happy to say that it succeeded.

This is a pretty similar to the original but adds to the mythos nicely. This time it’s Kevin Flynn’s son Sam that gets beamed onto the grid, after spending a lifetime wondering why his father disappeared. What he finds is that the world his father once told him bedtime stories about is real, and that his father’s creations have gone haywire – revolting against the users they once adored.

What I love most about the Tron films is that they are richly layered with a subtext that enhances what’s happening about the story – and in the case of these films that is a religious subtext about God and his creation. In the case of Tron, Kevin Flynn is an accidental God, but he attempts to step up to his duties nonetheless. This is why I love science fiction, the power of metaphor exists in this genre in a very unique way.

Jeff Bridges returns to Tron Legacy in two roles – Kevin Flynn and CLU, the villain of the piece. CLU is a much lauded visual effect as they managed to make him look like a 35 year old version of Jeff Bridges. While this was much needed for the story to work, and a rather cool gimmick, the effect didn’t thrill me. CGI is still not at the place where we can replicate the natural, involuntary things that human skin or eyes do; CLU’s skin doesn’t wrinkle correctly by the eyes, or pull quite right over his cheek bones and his skin is just a tad too cgi-looking. However, CLU is a fine villain and works perfectly as the opposite of Kevin Flynn.

Kevin Flynn is much matured in this film, something that makes sense as he’s been trapped inside the grid for twenty years. While Flynn is still free-wheeling and gifted he’s finally learned the price of being a creator, and what the price of perfection truly is. Bridges is in fine form and obviously enjoys playing the character he originated at another stage in life. Despite re-embodying Flynn, what stands out to me every time post-Lebowski that I see Bridges is how much Jeff Bridges truly is the Dude and Tron is no exception – Flynn has pieces of the Dude in him. He’s a great actor, and his own person, but I see the Dude come out somehow in every performance.

While I think that Tron Legacy is much more accessible than the original, I do think it may end up suffering the same fate as the original and in the long run, confuse the masses. However, I don’t think that a cult following, and geek worship is a bad thing…

Director:: Joe Kosinski

Kevin Flynn: The Grid. A digital frontier. I tried to picture clusters of information as they traveled through the computer. Ships, motorcycles. With the circuits like freeways. I kept dreaming of a world I thought I'd never see. And then, one day... I got in.

No comments: