'TRON: Legacy' Review

The first imperative for a producing company is that a film be profitable, preferably obscenely profitable, but for a viewer and lover of films the most important criteria of a movie is to transport us to other worlds and into the lives of other people in an entertaining fashion. An American film director once said: “a film is an immensely likable group of people doing an impossible task”. The producers of TRON: Legacy failed to embrace any element of this quote.

TRON: Legacy hits the punchbowl of American cinema with a splash. The first imperative for a producing company is that a film be profitable, preferably obscenely profitable, but for a viewer and lover of films the most important criteria of a movie is to transport us to other worlds and into the lives of other people in an entertaining fashion. An American film director once said: “a film is an immensely likeable group of people doing an impossible task”. The producers of TRON: Legacy failed to embrace any element of this quote.

The opening logo of the Disney castle receives a nice treatment at the beginning of the film but unfortunately that’s the high point. From there it is down, down, down.

A good script unfolds out of character, TRON: Legacy was not a good script and therein lays the problem. On a recent flight from Europe I was able to select the Penny Marshall classic “Big” from a surprising array of choices that incidentally included “Ghost Busters”. Watching “Big” I was struck at how the script followed that classic form of spinning the plot on its ear at the ten-minute mark. However this change came smoothly and grew from a thought-out, respectful of the viewer, skillfully written script. The script for TRON: Legacy is completely slap-dash and falls in a category once outlined by Dorothy Parker: “That’s not writing, that’s typing”

The aforementioned flight lasted over eleven hours not including an hour delay at the beginning and a stint under the de-icing machine but that eleven hours plus went faster that the two hours or so running time of TRON: Legacy. Who was it that said: ”I can tell if a movie is bad when my rear end starts to bother me…”? My ass wept.

TRON: Legacy wheezes from the start. Any idea of actually employing cinematic techniques such as showing or implying some aspect of a character’s persona is reduced to telling the viewer in exposition. The over-used cliché of having a television announcer filling you in on the back-story instead repeats what is occurring in front of your eyes just so you can be assured that what you’re seeing is somehow believable. It isn’t.

Jeff Bridges tweets in his performance. Talk about a wasted opportunity. Here you have an actor who is moving rapidly from being a national treasure to a global one and he walks through the motions as if he were drugged and held captive. The dialogue and personal interactions seem borrowed from the George Lucas School of Acting Zombies blended with the Barney-like earnestness of the wide-eyed stiffs in The Last Airbender.

Inevitably the movie makes the leap from bad to loud bad when the fireworks begin. If vacuous and vapid are the filmmaker’s goals he hits them squarely. Talk in the lobby after the screening led to the news that he has been tapped to remake The Black Hole. What could possibly go wrong with this scenario…?

The impact of the stereoscopic 3D is largely inconsequential due to the fact that light is needed to facilitate the sense of separation of planes. Since TRON: Legacy exists largely in a black world much of the effect of the stereo is blunted. The tech credits are fine but that’s to be expected in this day and age. That most elusive element: chemistry remains elusive to the filmmakers.

I struggle to find something good to say about the film. I’ve wracked my brain. As I recall the only time that the screen lit up is when Olivia Wilde appeared as Quorra. Even then it was more along the line that even an old man in his final moments, on his deathbed, will rally when a pretty young nurse enters the room and smile at her a toothless come-hither grin. Hope springs eternal.

TRON: Legacy is nothing but a product rapidly cobbled together to put more holiday season dollars into the pockets of Disney. There is a cynicism that lurks behind this effort and a lack of respect for the audience, young and old. These are the same people who had the temerity to put their names over that of Charles Dickens in their Walt Disney’s A Christmas Carol. At the time, I thought to myself “Dickens must be spinning like a lathe in his grave… at cyclotronic speeds”. One can only imagine that they are working on their next project as we speak: “Walt Disney’s The Sermon On The Mount”. I can hardly wait.

The holiday season is upon us. In this time we are encouraged to do what we can to alleviate the suffering of others. Instead of tossing your hard earned money over the counter at the ticket booth, consider taking that cash and giving it to a charity to help mitigate the suffering of your fellow man. By doing this you will also be mitigating your own suffering. Skip the film until it is on broadcast and mercifully interrupted by fast food commercials. The adventures of Jared of Subway have more meat in them.

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