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Tron:Legacy

I sometimes wish I was the type of person that loved every movie they watch. I know some people like that. But sadly that’s not me. That doesn’t mean I don’t like bad movies. There are plenty of movies that most people find awful that I love. But generally I know the movie is bad, I’m just getting something else out of it. Sometimes it’s that the movie was meant to be bad like anything from Troma. Other times it might be the genre. For example ridiculous corny dialog might be perfect for an action movie but not for a drama. Another is probably how serious the movie takes it self. An action movie like Death Race doesn’t take itself seriously where as an action movie like Terminator 4 does and therefore gets a judged in a different light.

I don’t know what the point of that last paragraph was. Ultimately I guess it is meant to say that while I like movies all over the spectrum (i.e, I’m not a movie snob) I’m still pretty picky about what movies I like.

I didn’t like Tron:Legacy at all. Here’s why

Tron:Legacy was bad on so many levels. Even though I love the original I realize it’s not the greatest movie. Sure the visuals are awesome and there are great parts but it falls a little flat at the end. Still it beats Tron:Legacy by miles.

What’s wrong with Tron:Legacy? How about?

Writing:
The writing is atrocious. For example:

We are told ISOs will save the human world? Why?

This entire topic is unexplained. <spoiler mode=”not so much though”> It’s sole point seems to be to make Quorra more special as the last ISO and yet we never learn why that matters. </spoiler>

Sam is a super hero? Why?

In the original, Kevin Flynn both created the main videos games and is clearly an expert at them. Once inside the computer he excels at the Light Cycles game which makes sense as it’s less physically demanding and probably uses the same skills he had from outside the game. But that’s the only game he really plays. Flynn plays one Jai alai like game where he barely survives and is playing against a very unfit unskilled opponent. He never plays the disc based games that require tons of physical skill. Only Tron does that who was arguably programmed for it.

In the sequel, Sam Flynn shows no real experience with video games but once inside he is suddenly master of the most physically demanding and skill requiring games there are. WTF?

Zeus sucked.

The whole scene with Zeus was clearly inspired by the Merovingian from the Matrix but this scene completely doesn’t work. Instead of an eccentric character we get just silly overacting and that is ultimately not interesting in any way. The Merovingian at least had somethings of value. Zeus had nothing.

Hippy/New Age Dialog was out of place.

During the movie Kevin Flynn, the father, has several very hippy / new age sounding lines. As far as could tell those were put in because they reflect Jeff Bridges’ look. They don’t fit the character of Kevin Flynn at all though. He was a computer hacker, not a hippy.

Editing:

Compare the lightcycle battle in the original to the one in the sequel. If you can divorce yourself from the effects it should be very clear there is lots of tension and a strong feeling of speed in the original. The editing is tight. The speed is hyper. Then watch the lightcycle battle in the sequel. It’s boring by comparison. No tension, no sense of speed. That doesn’t even take into account that one of the things that made the original interesting is the 90 degree turns, something that can happen in a computer but not in the real world. That’s the whole point of Tron, that inside the computer things are different. The rules of the outside world do not apply.

This same editing style is brought to the lightplane battle at the end which looks more like a sky ballet than a battle in cyberspace. They way the lightplanes fly they might has well been real world bi-planes. It’s slow and boring instead of tense and exciting. Such a huge opportunity was missed here to do something as creative as the original was with lightcycles.

Continuity:

This one they just got plain wrong. You don’t escape the computer world by standing in a beam of light and holding the disc above your head. That’s how you communicate with your user. Did no one bring this up during production? Was the entire staff asleep or just not paying attention?

Style:

The sequel benefits from the advances in computer graphics but sadly it was all wasted. The style and designs in the original were far more interesting than the styles in the sequel. Of course that’s subjective so lets try something a little less subjective. In the original everything in the computer is different from the outside world. In the sequel there’s a nearly real world looking night club. In the sequel we have living rooms full of real world stuff. Real world looking food on a real world looking table with real world looking utensils. All of these distract from what made Tron special. Sure you can come up with various reasons why those things might exist inside the computer. That’s not the point. The point is, the whole premise is about how inside the computer is DIFFERENT. Everything that makes it more like the real world makes it less interesting.

Conclusion:

The sad part of it is Tron was a great premise and with the power of today’s computer graphics in the hand of an inspired team could have been one of the most amazing movies experiences since the Matrix. Instead it’s a pretty tame forgettable movie which has not only failed to live up to the original but spoiled the franchise forever.

Here’s hoping someone, someday will come out with a cyberspace movie that really lives up to the potential of the topic.

  • http://david.dlma.com/lifestream/ dblume

    Regarding the style: In the new movie, the Grid was superreal in the sense that it was the part of the movie that was in 3D. The “real world” was only in 2D and felt flat. So the “grid” created a world that felt beyond possible. That effect worked on me.

    It was the limitations of the computer world that made for the light cycles physics in the ’80s. In 2010, the expectation is that in computers physics can be violated by design, hence the new and nearly analog control of the lightcycles that violated physics by choice.

    I don’t think the second movie can be enjoyed if you try to take it any more seriously than the first.

    I wasn’t bothered by the son of the programmer and arcade owner being a good gamer in the grid.

    Completely agree about Zeus. That was one big ad for Daft Punk blended with an “homage” to the Merovingian scenes. Ugh.

  • http://greggman.com greggman

    I didn’t take the sequel *more* serious than the original. I took it with the same seriousness. Both are meant to be taken serious. They aren’t xXx or Resident Evil silly. They take themselves seriously.

    I understand that the light cycles probably only turned 90 degrees in the original Tron because it was a limit of the CG tech at the time. But the fact is it worked. It added to the uniqueness of the world inside the computer. Limits breed creativity. A good director would have recognized that and kept it. That kind of uniqueness is what makes the original more interesting.

    As for the son of a programmer being good on the grid. My point was the programmer wasn’t all that good on it. There’s no reason to believe his son would be. You don’t call a movie where the good guy pulls of BFG out of his pocket at the last second and you don’t call a movie where for no given reason the character is an expert player of a seriously physical game that he’s never played anything similar in the real world. If the character had been shown being a super spy or a Jackie Chan type character or even a gymnast in the real world then it might make sense. But they didn’t show that. If they had shown him get trained (say like Neo in the Matrix) then it would make sense. But just out of the blue it’s called bad story telling.

    That’s why it works in the first one. You see Kevin Flynn is an expert player in the real world, so when he’s sentenced to the game grid you think “Sark’s in for it now. He doesn’t know Kevin is an expert at games” and it fits, he’s only good at Light Cycles and possibly shooting tanks. He’s no good at “Discs of Tron” for lack of a better way to explain that game since it’s a massively physical game. I might be able to by that Sam was good at a few simulations but it made no sense that he could beat the best in the discs games.

  • Deviob

    greggman is spot on ! … did you know they might be working on a tron 3
    hopefully this first movie is like star wars prequel 1, hopefully if they make another
    one it will be the REAL sequel to Tron 1 .

  • Jackpolet

    Its good

  • Anonymous

    It really just proved how humans were made differently. Some like that movie and some also don’t like it , just like you. So we are really unique.

  • Ryelolid35

    People have different opinion some may like it but others may not..

  • Tom

    what’s about the great soundtrack? Its far better than in the first part. I like the movie at all. Of course, not all is logical and if you have created your own sequel in your head prior watching the movie, you will always be disapponted. For me it was quite enteraining, and in 3D it was awesome. Daft Punk rocks..!!

  • gareth hoyle

    I just stumbled across this site. I wonder. Why’d you stop posting on 30th December 2010?

  • http://greggman.com greggman

    I just haven’t had much to say.

    The only posts I’ve made have been on my other blog

    http://games.greggman.com

  • http://getdankennedy.com/ Dan Kennedy

    Movie was OK, what I loved most about Tron was the music soundtrack

  • http://www.nedcon.ro/ balaci iulian

    Many people told me the movie is nice, but i never had the chance to see it. Even if you give it some back feedback, I’ll still gonna make some time to watch it. Hope I won’t be sorry !