Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner
Review: I will preface this review by saying that I have not seen the original 'Tron.' Despite my best efforts the movie has seemingly crossed over into collector's item status and is nearly impossible to find by those of us who are just curious and want to know the whole story before we walk into this one. As I wasn't able to get a hold of it I came into this one blind.
I thought I knew enough about the first 'Tron' that I would be able to understand everything and fill in the holes, unfortunately I feel as though I was mistaken.
The original Tron was ahead of it's time. Not just in special effects, but in 1982 the idea of a world consisting entirely of computer's, of digital version's of one's selves, and of a world interconnected through a digital landscape was much closer to future reality than it's creators ever could have imagined I am sure.
This version of Tron isn't quite ahead of it's time, but it's right near the edge. I can start by saying that the special effects are absolutely phenomenal. The 3-D is underwhelming but the visual artistry at work here is the best of the year and the best since 'Avatar' last year. Really quality stuff in that department.
The biggest drawback to the movie being that that is the high point. Jeff Bridges' character Kevin Flynn repeats in the movie that perfection is 'unattainable but right in front of us,' well this is just another example of how Hollywood has an idea for a blockbuster but can't see what is right in front of them.
Movies such as Titanic, Star Wars, Avatar, and Inception are not such huge blockbusters solely because of their effects, rather, their effects allow them to more effectively tell a story that we can all relate to on some personal level. This is where TL lacks. The story picks up 27 years after the first 'Tron' and 20 years after Kevin Flynn disappears and leaves his son parentless. Kevin's son Sam Flynn is visited by a long-time friend of his dad's who tells him he has received a call from his father's old office. Sam goes to investigate and gets sucked into this universe.
It is in there he learns his dad is still alive and has been here the whole time. He immediately begins a quest to find his father and bring him back to his natural world. This all seems like a good story that could have some intriguing moments, but the storyline execution is poor at best. There are many issues that could be delved into that the movie just chooses not to do. Especially in a time when we are all leaning more towards self definition through digital expression, the idea of having oneself digitally teleported into a mainframe to be version of oneself is something that is effervescent in our society today.
How would one manifest themselves? How would it affect us as people after being our digital selves as part of a digital universe? Would it be a blessing or a hindrance that we could all literally be connected to each other through our global interconnectivity? Who has the power to change this universe and how would that affect them? These are questions ripe for interest but the movie never goes into any detail about. Instead they focus on the father-son rescue story. It would be one thing if that is all they focus on, but it's another if they don't even get it right. The storyline is nothing special but it's executed in an even worse manner. Events simply happen and the actors appear disinterested even in all the fantastical going on around them.
Along with questions the movie chooses not to pose there are questions that are posed and ignored. In a movie based inside a computer, a computer and it's code has certain parameters that it lives by. These parameter's are given to it by it's creators and must obey them. Yet here we are, trapped in a universe made by a program that was made to exist in this universe. The program abides by it's rules, but the universe it inhabit's does not. I understand this is an intriguing aspect about spontaneous life even in the digital sense but a computer based still needs to abide by the rules it's given and have a defined scope, which this universe simply does not have. There is seemingly no limit to what can be done/achieved in this universe, perhaps that is the point, but it just didn't sit well with me.
All in all, I somewhat enjoyed the movie. The special effects were amazing and the action scenes were solid, which made up for lackluster storytelling and flat acting. I would say it's only worth your time if you're really into good special effects, if not, wait till DVD.