Rating: 2.5 of 5
Mostly Tron: Legacy was awesome. Not great, but kind of awesome.
Let me say first that I never saw the first Tron. It was just never on my radar as a kid and then I had no reason to watch it once I grew up and never got around to it before seeing the sequel. So, there’s that.
The most defining thing about this film is the music. And it totally works. It sets the mood and the pace and the energy and sort of creates the entire world and it’s great. strong, cool, fun, moody music.
One of my favorite parts was in the club when Daft Punk kept moving through the vibe, like when the fight broke out and they just nodded their heads and shifted the music – like, we can work with this.
The second defining thing is how visually exciting it is. Again, I haven’t seen the first film but I imagine it was updated exceptionally. Everything is slick and sharp and fast and very cool. The director and DP did a fantastic job of playing with light, there are reflections in odd places, but perfect because they create the sense of being on the other side of a monitor or inside a dark place with light bouncing around from different things. well done and not distracting.
Other than that…
I mean, the action is dynamic and engaging, but everything else around it is less so.
And, I have to say I think the primary problem is Jeff Bridges, even though it isn’t his fault. First of all, the cg for his younger self is not great. Even when it’s supposed to be in the real world it looks like a cartoon, especially the way the mouth moves. It’s less noticeable in the digital world because so much of everything is cgi. But it’s still not great.
And secondly, his characters aren’t great – but again I don’t think it’s because he delivered a poor performance. It’s what he was given to work with. Kevin Flynn is so passive, because his whole philosophy is about stillness. But that really handicaps any but the very best actors because essentially he has nothing to do. And Clu isn’t really that bad. He doesn’t create a real sense of danger or seem like really that much of a threat. Probably in part because he looks so plasticy he’s not believable. and in part because the story doesn’t give him anything dangerous.
And because of these two Jeff Bridges, the spaces between the action sequences fall flat and there was nothing from the other characters to help. Garrett Hedlund was pretty decent. And while Olivia Wilde actually didn’t bother me (which was unexpected) I wasn’t impressed with her performance. I realize it’s hard to play a character with no personality and no emotion, but there was nothing dynamic about her. So everything in between the action drags. Several times I felt myself getting antsy wondering what comes next and how long it would take them to get to it.
Also, the film is not profound. It didn’t need to be, but it almost tries to be. There are all these references to a massive chess game, but there is no real sense of strategy or intrigue. When Kevin confronts Clu it seems to be trying to say something important, but it really doesn’t; it’s just meaningless attempts at something deeper. Which only served to make me think that it could have been profound, and wasn’t. (Was one of the writers a Stargate fan? Because Absolute Power was a much more engaging way of showing that the only way win is not to play.) I think most of these flaws are due to how many writers the poor thing had.
With all of these flaws, you’d think I didn’t like the film at all, but I did. The music and the action and the vibe of the whole thing was really good, which made the film overall fun. and cool. which was nearly enough.