TRON: Legacy

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There is a huge disparity between the seductive and sophisticated production values and the dull, overlong narrative that they decorate in Disney’s “TRON: Legacy,” an extremely high-tech accomplished adventure, set entirely in the digital world.

An impressive spectacle, “TRON: Legacy offers visual and sound pleasures, some of which never seen and/or experienced before, but the sense of uniquely filmic magic and wonder lasts for a reel or two, at most, and then the movie gets tedious and repetitious.
 
 
A grad of architecture from ColumbiaUniversity, director Joseph Kosinski shows flair for design, aesthetics, and digital technology, but, at this juncture of his career, he is not an effective storyteller and demonstrates no instincts of how to involve the viewers emotionally. Ultimately, this “TRON” is a very slender story, extended to the max running time, and damaged by lengthy verbose sequences.
 
Indeed, Kosinski and his team have made a movie that will satisfy the fans, but I doubt whether it would recruit many new devotees other than the teenage crowd.  Despite major shortcoming, “TRON: Legacy” should be a hit, for a simple reason. Although it was not a big commercial hit (it grossed $33 million), ever since “TRON” came out, in 1982, there’s been anticipation for a follow-up, and the timing is now right for such a picture.
 
The screenplay, written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, from a story by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal, based on characters created by Steven Lisberger and Bonnie MacBird in the 1982 “TRON” (See below).
 
The original “TRON” movie was Disney’s groundbreaking high-tech film, as computers and digital technology were just beginning to take hold even VCR did not exist back then).  That film's visionary writer-director, Steven Lisberger, now serves as a producer on the new picture. 
 
You may recall that in that movie, Jeff Bridges played a computer programmer named Kevin Flynn who gets zapped into a server where he must play some dangerous games in order to survive.  But despite thematic and character links to the first film, the new picture is a stand-alone follow-up, and it could be watched without revisiting the 1982 feature.
 
“TRON: Legacy” features cutting-edge, state-of-the art technology, and visual and sound effects and set design in the service of a mythical epic adventure, set across a digital grid that’s meant to be fascinating and wondrous for a two-hour plus movie.
 
Unfortunately, the potential fun to be had is hampered by a pedestrian, heavily Freudian father-son story, which would like to pass itself as an epic adventure in every sense of the term. However, once your eyes and ears get used to the innovative style, you mind and heart may be frustrated by the largely inert proceedings. Here is a high-budget, high-profile film, and one that stars Jeff Bridges at the prime of his career, which lacks dramatic energy and narrative momentum.
 
The protagonist is Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), a rebellious 27-year-old, haunted by the mysterious disappearance of his father, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), who was once known as the world’s leading technical visionary.
 
It “just happens,” that when Sam investigates a strange signal sent from the old Flynn’s Arcade, he becomes intrigued by the digital grid where Kevin has been trapped for 20 years. Deep down he knows that the signal could have only come from his father.
 
Father and son, joined by a fearless female warrior Quorra (Olivia Wilde), then embark on a life-risking journey across the digital landscape created by Kevin himself, which in the intervening years has become ultra-advanced with imagined vehicles, weapons, landscapes.
 
No adventure lives up to its generic label without a good heavy, and “TRON: Legacy” is no exception. Except that the film’s villain is just ruthless, but as a character, he does not provide any dramatic tension.
 
At the time, “TRON” was credits with pioneering the use of computer graphics, virtual sets and backlit effects. Its unique blend of 70mm live action, CG, and hand-drawn animation was highly innovative by standards of the time. As a result, “TRON” became a cult classic, a film that entered into our collective imagination, and is now cherished as a defining moment for the evolution of special-effects movies.
 
So much has happened in technology, media, and social networking since the early 1980s. The idea for the film has been kicking around for at least a decade, and the endless technological changes over the years meant that the movie's story and ideas have constantly changed.
 
Kosinski, Bailey and the rest of the team asked the Disney executives to authorize a proof-of-concept test, which was a short film showing what today’s technology could do with the iconic elements of the “TRON” digital world, such as Lightcycles and disc battles. Their footage was shown at the 2008 San Diego Comic Con, and the positive reaction there convinced Disney to make the film.
 
The new exciting technological advances have enabled some exhilarating possibilities in visualizing “TRON” as a contemporary stand-alone follow-up. Generation XBOX is defined by the Internet, cel phones, and wireless computers and games wirelessly, living in a social and physical world, which is radically different from that which prevailed three decades ago.
 
If you are going to see the film, I recommend that you go to a theater equipped with IMAX-3D with a good sound system. The electronically produced music was re-imagined by Daft Punk, the visionary, Grammy Award winners pioneers of a form that blends progressive house, funk, electro and techno.