From Comic Con 2009 to the epic trailers to TRON NIGHT and everything in between, I think it’s safe to say that I haven’t anticipated a movie quite like this before. Beyond the father-son story Tron: Legacy promises to tell, I am most excited for the visuals (standard and 3D) and the electric Daft Punk soundtrack. The movie opens tonight (12/16) at midnight in select theatres, and it release wide tomorrow. Go ahead and browse through all the Tron content, and I’ll be back later tonight (er, early tomorrow morning) with some impressions.
Impressions: It’s the eve of December 17 and I’m back with impressions. If I had to use one word to describe TRON: Legacy: EPIC. But now I’ll use some more words. I had a fantastic time at the midnight opening of Tron. I saw it in IMAX 3D, and quite frankly that’s the way in which this movie is meant to be seen. Before the movie starts, a message from director Joseph Kosinski informs viewers that the movie incorporates 2D and 3D movies and they vary depending on scene; the switch between both dimensions was done carefully and effectively. This is precisely where I want to start: the visuals. Tron looks phenomenal. From start to finish you really get a sense of how much blood and sweat was put into the creation of The Grid. Though there are some scenes located on Earth, the majority of the movie takes place in the digitized world that is The Grid. Kosinski’s team has come a long way since their original Comic Con teaser. Everything in The Grid certainly has an air of artificiality, but it is the way in which the team made everything come to life so vividly that most impressed me. We the audience get to take it all in through the eyes of protagonist Sam Flynn, who is also experiencing his father’s creation for the first time. It’s a foreign land that you quickly become accustomed to because it’s that damn cool. The disc wars, the lightcycle races, the hand-to-hand combat–it all comes to life spectacularly.
My impressions on the visuals cannot conclude without talking about Clu, aka “young Jeff Bridges.” Kosinski’s masterful editors managed to create Kevin Flynn as he appeared in Tron almost thirty years ago using advanced CGI and performance capture technology. I have to admit, there are some moments when Clu comes off as totally unnatural but I’m happy to report that for the most part he looks frighteningly real. You watch Clu walk around, communicate with his minions, and show facial expressions and you want to think this is a 100% natural actor playing the part. So long uncanny valley.
The next segment of praise must go to Daft Punk’s electrifying soundtrack. Not only do you hear the tailor-made-for-this-movie music in virtually every scene, you also feel it. And that is what makes the Tron-Daft Punk collaboration so special and exciting. The French duo created a powerful soundtrack that matches up with the movie’s scenes (my favorite is “Derezzed” in the bar action sequence), and it helps to fully immerse you into the Tron universe. The thumping bass from the playful, fast-paced video gamey tunes goes hand in hand with the nuanced ambient noises that come from various aircraft, vehicles, and environments. If you haven’t picked up the soundtrack yet (Amazon/iTunes), it’s the perfect stocking stuffer.
I must address the recent spat concerning the bad reviews and ratings from critics. From what I’ve heard most of the critics are beating down the movie because its lack of respectable storytelling. Some say the story is a flat-out disaster and that the acting isn’t believable. I will be honest with you; Tron does not tell the greatest story ever told and some of the dialogue is definitely cheesy. However, I would not so go far as to not recommend it due to these factors. Everyone knows what to expect from Tron: spectacular visuals and a kick-ass soundtrack. And the movie delivers 110% on both those fronts. When it comes to the story, I had no trouble swallowing the simplistic father-son tale that has critics in a tizzy. I do think that the writers failed to provide enough emotional oompf to fully provoke audience reaction to some of the major on-screen events. For example, when Sam finds his father (who he had not seen for many years) that “gripping” scene did not make me want to shed a tear; there just wasn’t a proper build up to the reunion. So in sum if you’re a movie critic looking to pick apart a movie for its misdirections, I guess you won’t be falling in love with Tron, but at least you should allow yourself to enjoy the visuals and soundtrack. On the other hand if you’re looking to have a fun time at the movies, Tron will make you squeal in excitement. I gotta say, when the epic finale came around I was glued to the screen in anticipation. Critics can bash all they want, but there’s no denying the pure epicness of that finale. And you know what? I actually felt a good bit of emotional connection to the characters at the end, so there!
Hype is a funny thing; it can significantly sway your expectations and ultimate takeaways from a movie. I’ve been looking forward to the release of Tron since I witnessed the early test footage at Comic Con. And I am elated to share you with that the massive amount of anticipation has paid off, so to speak. What kind of legacy does Tron leave behind? A narrative one, perhaps not; but it unquestionably pushes forward quality in 3D (and standard 2D) filmmaking.
TRON: Legacy. Highly recommended to all. Go see it in IMAX 3D. And now that I’ve seen it there’s two things for me to do next: listen to the soundtrack and see it again.