Reviewed May 21, 2012
Adam Cook’s review:
I have a real soft spot for the original Tron. The story might be weak and the film has some major pacing issues but I can't fail but to be transported back to a time when I first saw the film and how it's pioneering visuals transfixed me as a child. Unfortunately the older I become the harder I find it to look beyond a films major failings and to just be transported to a fantastical place. It does happen sometimes, Speed Racer being a good example, but sadly, try as I might, I was unable to see Tron Legacy through the eyes of my seven year old self.
The film does get some things very well. The Daft Punk score is sensational. Hearing it in chair rattling surround sound is the perfect environment for it too. The 3D is also very good. A criticism of the tech, even when done well, is that it never really captures what real 3D looks like but here that doesn't matter as the artificiality fits in perfectly with the world of the movie. The real world sections are pleasingly in 2D so the transition is akin to Dorothy going from a grey Kansas to the Technicolor wonder of Oz. 3D aside the whole film looks very nice. There are a few technical issues, de-aged Bridges still isn't quite there although it is better than the trailers made out, but you can excuse that because he is supposed to be a computer program (and it wouldn't be a Tron film if they weren't trying to push the boundaries technically). I do miss the lo-fi look of the original but it is only natural, commercially and within the context of the story, that the world would evolve. Unfortunately, and this is a very minor gripe, the world just doesn't look quite as interesting. I'm sure it will still enthral a young audience (and an older audience, although I think only one that has prior knowledge and a fondness for the 1982 original) but will it become a landmark in cinema and visual design and influence an entire generation? Probably not because the look has become so familiar now. That isn't this films fault, it had to reference the original, but because the artistic reach of that film has been so strong the world of Legacy doesn't look as startling or as fresh.
This little niggle would count for little but it became a bigger issue for me because it meant I was unable to ignore the failings in the other departments as I did with the original Tron; the world that has been created was not enough to sustain my attention or paper over any cracks. Instead I was left with having to deal with a plodding story that has no verve or sense of urgency. A lead actor that made me pine for the bristling charisma of Sam Worthington (yes, he is that dull) and for a group of characters utterly wasted by an unambitious script. I know I am probably being a bit unrealistic expecting a Disney blockbuster to care about something as insignificant as characters but the world that has been created has a really interesting dynamic between Kevin Flynn, Clu and Sam. It is there from the get go, the God-Adam, father-son, creator-subject dynamic could have made these three characters genuinely interesting but none of this is ever touched upon and is hardly even hinted at. Instead we just get a very standard quest movie told with bright neon lights. I realise this is being harsh because the film gets the action beats pretty much spot-on, they nicely reference sequences from the original whilst upping the ante. But all the characters are so dull and one note there is no emotional investment. Sure, it is pleasing to see that Kevin has basically turned into the Dude, but that is about it whilst Michael Sheen offers a bit of colour in a film devoid of character (although I don't think I could have stomached him for much longer).
A hollow treat for the senses that will have you wishing there was more substance to this pretty but ultimately dull journey.