Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner, Michael Sheen
Adam Horowitz, Brian Klugman, Edward Kitsis, Lee Sternthal
Walt Disney Pictures
First Look at TRON: Uprising, the Disney XD animated series
• Visualizing TRON - How did the filmmakers bring to life the gorgeous world inside the GRID?
• Installing the cast - Hear from all the stars of TRON: Legacy and their experience in making the movie
I suspect that those who embraced the Tron of 28 years ago will embrace Tron: Legacy, the long-awaited sequel that brings back Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn, a ginormous video game developer whose abduction into the world of Tron left his son, Sam (Garrett Hedlund), without a father until Sam gets summoned into the virtual world and finds himself drawn into a battle to save the world or destroy the world or to do something with the world alongside his now much older dad and Quorra (Olivia Wilde), a young woman who seems to have taken Sam's place in dad's eyes.
I'm only one paragraph into the review and I already don't care.
If you care about Tron, if you're a computer geek or if you're cognitively organized to follow the varied and loose plot devices, then this film may very well be enough to hold your interest. For most folks, however, Tron: Legacy will be a visually interesting yet mind-numbing cinematic experience that wears out its welcome long before the closing credits start to roll over two hours after this chaotic production begins.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of Tron: Legacy is that lead Jeff Bridges, easily one of the best actors working today, is slumming it here, doing a half-assed rip-off of Big Lebowski meets True Grit in the virtual land of Tron. While he's admittedly saddled with ludicrous scenarios and pointless dialogue, Bridges rants and roams here in a way that one would have considered him incapable of doing. Lazy has never been a word to describe a Bridges performance, but he's either completely baffled by this recreated Kevin Flynn or he just doesn't give a crap. Your guess is as good as mine, but his performance isn't aided by the lifeless, bland appearance by Garrett Hedlund, who makes the king of bland, Shia LeBeouf, look like a master thespian.
Of course, with this type of flick story and plot and even weak performances can be overcome if the special effects are awesome enough (Avatar, anyone?), unfortunately Tron: Legacy only occasionally achieves a level of special effect greatness, mostly during the film's many chase scenes and especially early on in the film. Far too often, we're instead forced to listen to dude Kevin ramble on about the good ole' days or the various players or other crap that begins to take on a faceless existence rather quickly.
It's difficult to understand what made the brain trust at Disney believe that the world needed a follow-up to a 1982 film that was neither critically praised nor financially a grand slam. While mining old territory is certainly a beloved Hollywood tradition, one would think it would be common sense to spend $170 million on a film that had at the very least shown signs of financial reward in the past. I'll be the first one to admire artistic integrity at the expense of box-office, but one gets the feeling that Disney genuinely believes that Tron: Legacy is going to be an out of the ballpark hit. While its opening numbers will likely be reasonably rewarding, it's difficult to fathom Disney recouping its expenses on this over-intellectualized, tremendously self-satisfied virtual wasteland.
Among the actors, only Olivia Wilde manages to impress as she embodies the most human character despite being decidedly non-human. Michael Sheen's David Bowie shtick is campy yet fun, while Bruce Boxleitner's return to the screen is welcome and, at the least, rather interesting. Many are praising Daft Punk's original music for the film, perhaps moreso on the band's reputation. The music may very well be more rewarding standing on its own, but only adds to the frequent feeling of sensory overload that many will get during the film's two hour plus run time.
While the original Tron wasn't particularly a hit at the box-office, the film did eventually gather quite the cult following and Disney is no doubt hoping that this following will flood the box-office for this sequel. However, if recent box-office is any indication even the best and biggest cult followings can be a fickle movie goer and it's hard not to get that feeling that after a modest theatrical run this film will end up much like its predecessor...in a virtual wasteland commonly known as the clearance bin.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic