|Lowest Recommended Age:||Middle School|
|MPAA Rating:||PG for sequences of sci-fi action violence and brief mild language|
|Profanity:||Brief mild language|
|Alcohol/Drugs:||Drinking in bar|
|Violence/Scariness:||Fantasy/action/sci-fi peril and violence|
|Movie Release Date:||December 17, 2010|
|DVD Release Date:||April 5, 2011|
Here’s all you need to know about the stars: Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner return as Kevin and Alan and their avatar/doubles, CLU and Tron. They are joined by Garrett Hedlund as Kevin’s son, Sam, and Olivia Wilde as Quorra, a resident of the alternate universe on the other side of a portal called The Grid.
Here’s all you need to know about the plot: Sam goes into The Grid looking for his father, there are some fights and races and chases and discussions of meta-reality and the perfection of imperfection, and some more chases.
Now, let’s get to what we’re really here for — the eye candy.
Twenty-eight years ago Disney released “Tron,” a sci-fi saga about two men sucked into a computer game. The plot was murky but the design was sharp and the computer-generated effects were innovative, and later received an Oscar for technical achievement. It was a modest success on release, inspired future Pixar wizard John Lasseter and led to some popular computer games. Its effects now seem quaintly primitive, but it is still remembered fondly by fanboys, gamers, and Comic-Con attendees.
Time for a sequel, with another great leap forward, technically, at least. Actually, it is many leaps forward, even past “Avatar,” whose envelope-pushing cameras they used — after they tricked them up a little more. And the technical term for what they have produced is: Wowza.
Fasten your seatbelts.
Director Joseph Kosinski brings three key elements to “Tron: Legacy.” It is his first feature film. He brings the same freshness and sense of wonder to the toys of film-making that Sam brings to his exploration of The Grid. Second, he loves “Tron.” His passion for the world inside the game is palpable. And third, his professional training is not in film or directing or anything else associated with movie-making. He is an architect. And so, his understanding of and ability to manipulate three-dimensional space on screen and in 3D and to convey mood and story through the details of the settings is exceptional.
Whether in tribute to the original or just because once again no one really cares, the script is awful. I would love to say that it contains clever homages to a dozen sci-fi classics, but the pastiche of bits and pieces are more distraction than tribute. The central conflict is between the two Jeff Bridges, the digital CLU who replicates the passion for creation of the human original but not his imagination or ability and the human with the shell bead bracelet and the meditative countenance who even in moments of extreme duress cannot stop calling everyone “Man.”
But la, la, la, what a vision this movie is. It goes over the top, and then it goes even higher, wider, and crazier.
There are discus fights and motorcycle races within the game, and when characters are destroyed they explode into a shower of shattered bytes. The motorcycles look like organic extensions of the riders or perhaps the riders look like mechanical extensions of the bikes.
Kevin somehow lives in a preposterously zen apartment with a lot of gleaming surfaces and aerodynamic curves, everything in cool shades of gray, but on his shelves are old, high touch leather-bound books like Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island with the jewel-like cover illustration by N.C. Wyeth. Then things really go over the top with a rave scene in a dementedly decadent disco, hosted by a flamboyant “Cabaret”-style emcee played by Michael Sheen with hat and cane. His eyes glitter and the curve of his nose is so impossibly perfect it might be another architectural flourish.
In IMAX 3D you will feel like you, too, have entered the grid, as the screen shifts from 2D to 3D when Sam crosses through the portal. And in a way, you have, to a world where the imperfect may not be perfect, but it is fun to watch.