But I did see Tron:Legacy with some friends the day before Christmas Eve and have some thoughts on that instead.
In a word: ehhh…
Wasn’t the best. Wasn’t the worst.
Jeff Bridges reprises his role as software engineer Kevin Flynn. Bridges starred in the original Tron film back in 1982 and now, after 20 some years stuck in his a digital world of his own making, Flynn’s son Sam (played by Garret Hedlund) has accidentally been transported there as well.
Bridges’ character had hoped to create a Utopian world in which he could discover the secrets to mankind’s deepest questions and then bring those answers and solutions to the good people of planet earth. But like all good Utopian dreams, the reality of an imperfect world (even in cyber-land) prevents this from happening. The programs and people Kevin Flynn create in his Tron-world end up turning on him because he programmed them for perfection and very quickly they discover that he himself isn’t perfect. Kevin confuses the desire to make a better world for the silly notion that he can actually create a perfect one. (Note: I just summed up modern progressive liberalism’s fundamental flaw. You’re welcome.)
The plot of Tron:Legacy was a little hard to follow. Not in the overall story-arch because you knew where they were going and how things would end before the end of the first reel, but in the specifics. Many of the references and call-backs to the original Tron, a movie I haven’t seen since the first term of the Clinton administration, were hard to follow and definitely felt forced. Characters in this film would say and do things that had no correlation to the current scene (nor any that had come before it). They would make allusions to upcoming events in, and destinations on, “The Grid” (the name of the digital world Kevin Flynn concocted) and not tell us why we ought to care about these times and places.
That is probably my biggest beef with so many modern movies being made: they don’t reel you in. They don’t connect the characters to the plot and directors don’t connect you, the viewer, to either. You’re not emotionally invested in what is going on on-screen.
You’ve never been convinced why you should care that there is a trade embargo in Star Wars: Phantom Menace. You don’t really feel the emotional tug on your heart strings when the British defeat the French in the latest Russel Crowe-led Robin Hood installment. Even the 2nd and 3rd Narnia movies have managed to disengage the audience from two of the most beloved and engaging novels in the last century.
Now certainly many movies flop because they are terrible ideas or because terrible actors have been hired, but plot and story still rule the day when it comes to the films that separate themselves from the pack. Tron:Legacy flirts with disaster as it attempts to draw the audience in, but frequently leaves us in a dust-cloud of lame references, cheesy one-liners, self-referential plot-points, and absolutely no parameters for what is possible in the world of the The Grid. One minute they are eating green beans for dinner and the next all the fruit is rock-hard and inanimate. One minute they are talking about the physical laws and limitations of their computerized universe and the next they are reading Dostoevsky novels and slamming cocktails at the local dance club.
Enough bashing. The truth is, I did enjoy the movie. It was entertaining and visually stunning. I loved the original Tron as a kid and I’m sure many kids today will look back on this one with fond memories. It’s worth seeing in the theater, but if you only have time for one movie this Holiday Season, go see True Grit.