Wednesday, December 22, 2010

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Pretty and Dumb

When I think of TRON: Legacy, I can't help but be reminded of one or two girls I knew in high school. Beautiful girls, popular girls, girls who actually managed to maintain a high GPA so as to be in the top ten percent of our graduating class. One in particular was in all the AP and Honors classes, was popular with people, absolutely lovely to look at (and got prettier all the time), threw fun parties, the works. But despite those classes and everything, whenever she opened her mouth, she sounded like an idiot. This isn't one of those, "That's bizarre, maybe she's thinking on another level" kind of things. This is a "Does...does she understand any of what she just said?" kind of thing. Conversation confused her. She would stare at whatever room she entered like it just appeared in her path. She was kind of an idiot.

That's like TRON: Legacy. The movie sure is pretty, with the most realistic-looking VFX of the year...well, except for the mo-cap Jeff Bridges. When Bridges is supposed to be the villainous CLU, it works, since CLU is a computer program. When Bridges is supposed to be young Bridges, it looks like a CGI monster, like a Ken doll with deader eyes. Creepy. But the world of TRON: Legacy -- that is, the computer universe that our hero (Garret Hedlund) and real-life Bridges find themselves trapped in -- that's just astonishing. The monochromatic palette surely helps the illusion, but great is great, and these effects are almost Avatar-level. If it wasn't for the mo-cap horror...

Anyway, the VFX are stellar. You know what else is grand? The Daft Punk score. It's epic in it's compositions, broad and big, with violins and synth and 8-bit sounds. I actually got intense goosebumps more than once from the integration of score and VFX. It's enough of an 80s-era throwback while still remaining contemporary. Then there's beautiful Olivia Wilde, stunning as a program sympathetic to Bridges and Hedlund, who actually pulls off the hybrid with believability and craft. Garrett Hedlund is a fine leading man, Michael Sheen steals most of it with his one-scene, Bowie-esque role.

But it's just so dumb. Like, everything is just stupid. There's little consistency between everything that happens. Bridges doesn't want any of the programs to escape because they don't belong in the world, but he wants Wilde's Quorra to escape because of what she'll bring to the world? Or something? CLU wants to use the portal to escape and dominate; why didn't he do this during his coup against Flynn when the portal was initially open? In fact, if the portal opened when Hedlund entered, why didn't he do it then? Why does he need Flynn's disc to do anything? Couldn't he use the portal and destroy TRON so that he can remain in the Real World with an army?

If any of these questions were answered, I missed it. I was totally into the film until the protagonist was reunited with his father in the TRON world (hardly a spoiler, it's in the trailer). Then I zoned out for a bit, because every dialogue scene is B-O-R-I-N-G. And it doesn't matter if you zone out, because they'll repeat everything in every scene throughout the film, and also have flashbacks that repeat what you heard. None of it is interesting, or even pseudo-intelligent. There are plot and logic holes that you could steer a cruise ship through. And Bridges' performance is dull, mechanical, unpleasant to watch. Hedlund is fine, Wilde and Sheen and Bruce Boxleitner are great, but And I'm a fan, making it all the more depressing.

If you just want some eye candy, whether it be VFX or the film's stars (Wilde is va-va-voom), you won't be disappointed. If you want an actual story, you're better off with The Fighter and Black Swan.


Unknown said...

Or The King's Speech or True Grit. Both awesomer movies. But there is a charm to the idea of Tron Legacy, like despite the poor execution I still didn't hate sitting in the theatre. It must be that damned wonderful Daft Punk score... saves the show. And Michael. I hope this does big things for Michael Sheen's career, things that weren't happening already. Still you give an apt metaphor for the situation.

Walter L. Hollmann said...

I, too, wish it could do more for Michael...but his is one of the most unnecessary characters in the film (the other being his gal pal). He's the best member of the ensemble, but the character doesn't really *add* anything plotwise.

Trying to catch The King's Speech tomorrow. True Grit is...OK. I feel guilty for not liking it more, though.