Teh Trouble with Teh TRON

Posted by Michael Pinto on Dec 18, 2010 in Animation, Cinema |

The Dude from the Big Lebowski

So as the end credits start to roll in the theater my friend turns to me and says “that sucked!” But my reaction was “Well they did about as good of a job that they could have…” The original Tron was an impressive film on a number of levels, but the heart of the film was that it represented a breakthrough of computer animation on the big screen — but as a film it was quite average. So the problem is that if you’re going to make a sequel over 25 years later everything that was great about the first film is going to be dated.

Tron Legacy

Hollywood’s answer to this is to throw money at the problem: The result is that TRON: Legacy has some amazing production values, but the story is itself is — well there really isn’t much of a story is the problem. The film takes itself a bit too seriously which is a mistake that the Stat Trek reboot wisely ignored. Another thing the Star Trek reboot got right was that it balanced the need to make the fanboys happy while opening the old franchise to a new generation: Sadly TRON: Legacy failed on both accounts. If you were watching this film without knowing anything about the original film the entire premise would seem silly, yet if you’re a fanboy there aren’t enough in jokes and tech references to make you happy.

Tron Legacy

Jeff Bridges wondering why he accepted his role in this film…

What the films does well is pick up on the industrial design from the original film: Everything from the sets to the costumes to the wonderful soundtrack is perfect. But at that point the trail goes cold as the script is predictable, the dialog is superficial and the acting is flat. Of course the eye candy and editing make up for that a little bit, but after a half hour of wandering in cyberspace it becomes a bit dull.

Bad Disco on rollerblades

Did I mention that there’s a lame disco scene in this film that was pretty much lifted from one The Matrix sequels?

And by dull I mean that the film pretty much incorporates every sci fi cliché from the last twenty five years: I found myself looking at scenes and started thinking “oh they swiped that from The Matrix” or “that last scene reminds me of Blade Runner a bit too much”. The thing is I don’t mind if the film makers cut-and-pasted every sci fi film they had ever seen, but at least either do it as a homage or a clever in joke — but please don’t use it as filler to keep the plot going.

The robot from the Black Hole

The number of ways director Kosinski can make the Black Hole boring seem countless…

Sadly director Joseph Kosinski’s next project will be directing the remake of The Black Hole which is due to be released in 2011. The good news is The Black Hole really had nothing going for it as a film, so it will be harder for Kosinski to ruin the legacy of that film — also know that we know the quality of his work we can make a point waiting for that film to hit cable television instead of running to the theaters. What’s really sad to me is that the late 70s and early 80s represented a low point for Disney, but even with that at least they still produced original films instead of trying to regurgitate the companies past by producing a disco remake of Fantasia or trying to do a live action remake of Snow White.

Bad 3D glasses

Side Note: Part of what ruined the film for me was the use of IMAX 3D. I didn’t love Avatar but the one thing it did very well was to use 3D properly on the big screen. I found the use of 3D in TRON: Legacy to be quite boring and almost a distraction from what little plot there was to be seen. I haven’t quite figured out yet is if I just hated the IMAX 3D technology itself or the way the film implemented it — but either way it just didn’t add anything to what was going on.

Tron Legacy Olivia Wilde

Final final thing: Did I mention that Olivia Wilde is kind of cute in a Winona Ryder pixie like way? They really kind of wasted her in this film…

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