Tron aka Tron: Legacy (2010)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Tron</strong> aka <strong class="MovieTitle">Tron: Legacy</strong> (2010)

(In theaters, December 2010) Given the impact of the original Tron over the generation that went on to build the Internet, it’s a wonder that it took so long for a sequel to arrive.  It’s not much of a surprise, however, to find out that the follow-up is best appreciated as a visual-arts piece than a narrative film: special effects have advanced enormously since 1982’s original, and the impact of all-computerized imagery isn’t what it used to be.  On the other hand, Tron: Legacy puts most of its budget on-screen, and it’s the visuals of the action pieces that hold them together more than the narrative tension.  Never mind the tedious many-against-one videogame battles: just enjoy the swooping lines and cubic destruction.  The plot, merely serviceable, is just an excuse to keep together an exercise in nerd nostalgia.  While that occasionally works (there’s something retro-cyberpunkish in contemplating late-1980s technology creating fully-virtual worlds), it’s not quite enough to offset the tedium of the film’s neon-on-black visuals in which the character’s faces literally fade to dark.  Ironically, perhaps Tron: Legacy’s most achieved visual effects is the way Jeff Bridges manages to play two roles, including one with the face he had almost thirty years ago.  Also worth noticing: Daft Punk’s distinctive electro-synth soundtrack.  Otherwise, this sequel suffers from an overstuffed plot (only explained if you get the graphic novel and the video game), hazily-motivated character actions (let’s hope they understand why they’re doing things, because we don’t), dull dialogue and a merely-satisfactory effort in sketching out the virtual world and why we should care about its liberation.  Tron: Legacy certainly adds up to something interesting, but not in the conventional sense: it’s a film to be stared at rather than enjoyed, and while that’s good enough for a casual viewing, it may not be what’s required to ignite nerd audiences as much as the original did.

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