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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"Enter the Grid" (A Review of TRON Legacy)

Tron Legacy opens with a scene that takes place about two years after the event of the first film, TRON. We meet a young Jeff Bridges (by aid of some CGI), the computer hacker extraordinaire, Kevin Flynn, talking to his young son Sam. He tells his son of a world that exists inside a computer, a place called The Grid, a world he created and finally entered. They make plans to hit the arcade that Flynn owns (Flynn's) in the morning, but when the morning comes, Kevin Flynn has disappeared. The fate of the company of which Flynn is CEO, ENCOM, hangs in the balance and the young Sam Flynn is fatherless. We cut to a cleverly made interlude that somewhat explains what has happened in the years following the first film and also sets the scene for this film. Flash forward about 20 years. Sam is now an adult. He resists his inheritance of CEO of ENCOM, but remains the largest shareholder. After an annual stunt/prank, Sam is confronted by his father's old business partner Alan (played by Bruce Boxleitner from the first film) who informs Sam he has received a mysterious page from Flynn's office ( a number now 20 some years disconnected). Sam decides to check it out and stumbles upon his father's secret workplace. With little messing around, Sam suddenly finds himself transported to The Grid; the computer world he grew up hearing about and always dreamt of visiting. From here, Sam's adventure begins. I won't go into a full plot synopsis because that would be boring.
Much like Jeff Bridges' character Kevin Flynn (which he reprises for this film), Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) is thrust into a strange world without any knowledge of how things work, or what is going on for that matter. We the audience, at times, also find ourselves in this position. This can be both exhilarating and sometimes frustrating. The first film was revolutionary in terms of it's visual accomplishments, one of the first films to incorporate a fully computer generated environment with live actors. That said, the plot is ludicrous. The story taken at face value, is intriguing, engaging and fun, any further investigation and the plot kind of unravels. Many things make less sense the more you think about them, but this really isn't the type of movie that is meant to be overanalyzed, it should entertain. We need to allow ourselves to be taken on the ride that is this movie. This is by no means a rationalization of aspects that may be lacking, it is merely a suggestion. You will either enjoy this film or you won't. TRON Legacy follows in the footsteps of the first film. The filmmakers hired the same writer who worked on the original film and it shows. There is a familiar feel to this world and the characters (for those of us who have seen TRON) as well as the less-than-exemplory dialogue (I found myself cringing more than once), but that didn't much matter to me. I was quite taken by the world of The Grid, a system that now lay in a state of disarray, a digital dictatorship where programs and users alike fight for their "lives" in a gladiator-esque arena. Where swords and chariots are replaced by discs and light-cycles. Where a mysterious program called C.L.U. (also played by Bridges) reigns over the city with a technological fist. The disc-battles are intense, every program fighting to survive or face "de-resolution" (death on The Grid), the all too brief Light-Cycle duel was a phenomenal display of computer generated goodness. All this is set to the driving, pulsing, electronic beat composed entirely by electro/techno legends Daft Punk. Not to be understated is their impressive use of a full string orchestra, employed to create beautiful, elegiac and often-times dark atmospheres, an ever present compliment to the images. I'll end my gushing about this film here.

THE BOTTOM LINE: One thing must be made clear...this film does have it's issues, some cringe-worthy dialogue, odd pacing and some plot/story holes, that being said, TRON Legacy offers a roller-coaster ride of special effects, fantastical story, incredible music and high-class blockbuster entertainment. With a PG rating, everyone in the family can enjoy it. Clean enough for kids, action-packed enough for the older crowd. TRON Legacy is sheer movie-going, pop-corn, candy and soda bliss. B+

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