A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 407 – Tron: Legacy

Tron: Legacy – April 11th, 2011

We saw this movie for my birthday this past year. I always take the day off, since it’s a lousy time for a birthday anyhow and I like to eliminate the possibility of having the day soured by something work-related. So we went into Boston and went to a movie in 3D. Now, normally this would not have been my favorite way to spend my birthday since I have to be careful with big screens and 3D for fear of headaches. But for this? I was willing to take on a headache on my birthday. And it was worth it. That should tell you something right there.

I went into this with expectations of a visually stunning but otherwise shallow movie. And the movie definitely delivered on the visuals. The original has such a distinctive style, there was no way this movie could move too far away from it without incurring the wrath of the fans. But what it managed to do was take that distinctive style and use current technology to make it clearer and sharper and more expansive. Much as I enjoyed the original and appreciate its visuals, there were times when I just wanted more out of the world. It was so rich in the story itself, with so much potential, but there were limits to what the visuals could really accomplish. Those limits are much expanded here, with wide open landscapes and lovely details like the rock formations and ocean present on the outer edges of the grid. And oh, oh I will get to the costumes in a moment.

First I’d like to address the story. It’s not perfect, I know. I’m sure if I sat down and tried to take it super seriously I’d be able to poke holes you could drive trucks through. But I’m not taking it super seriously. It’s got some themes I quite enjoy in my movies, but the specifics aren’t the point to me. The whole father and son quest deal, with Sam Flynn looking for his long-missing father who disappeared into the grid when he was still a child? Yeah, that’s great and all as an impetus for the story, but what I care more about is the conflict between Flynn and CLU and the formation of a utopia and the Isos. Because the themes there, while a wee bit on the heavy handed side, are things I find interesting. They certainly touch on the utopia-as-dystopia concept I love so much, and the Isos touch on something I loved in the first ever computer science class I took.

One of the last projects I had to do for said class was to write a version of Life in C++. And no, I don’t mean the board game. It’s a fairly simple concept in terms of how it works, but what makes it fascinating is how when you set it up and let it run, what might seem to be a simple pattern can evolve into a complex one that becomes self-sustaining, or it can sprout new patterns that then take on lives of their own. It’s an example of emergence and I have no doubt in my mind that the sort of concept that drives Life is the concept that inspired the Isos. And I wish that they were more involved in the overall story, but at the same time I’m glad they weren’t built up as messianic figures. Because they could have been, but I like them more as simply a new type of program. Something unexpected and different but still a part of the whole.

It’s for that and the dystopia stuff that I really enjoy the story of the movie. But what brings it together is the trappings around that story. The music is fantastic and I have to say that seeing it in the theater was the way to go. Hearing it in the theater was the way to go. It is the perfect music for every moment. I already mentioned the visuals but I said I’d come back to the costumes and oh my god, the costumes. They’re lovely. I want every coat in this movie and if I had the legs I’d be hard pressed not to cosplay as Quorra. There’s a smoothness that works for the world the movie is set in and I love knowing that the lights were achieved in camera. And that’s just the up close details. There are so many other things that make the entirety of this movie just work, from the fantastic CGI Jeff Bridges to the nods back to the original movie, like the Bits on Flynn’s in-grid fireplace mantle. This movie wants us to know it’s firmly in the world of the first.

Aside from an unfired Chekhov’s Gun (which I won’t spoil for those who want to spot it themselves), there’s nothing I don’t like about this movie. I even thoroughly enjoyed Michael Sheen’s performance, which I believe was intentionally over the top. It fits the fight scene in the club, so I can run with it and besides, I like him. It’s got some great action, decent to good acting, gorgeous visuals on all fronts, fantastic sound, plot elements I greatly enjoy and respect for its roots. And it didn’t give me a headache on my birthday (which I credit to some very well done 3D work). What more could I ask for?

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April 11, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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