Monday, February 7, 2011

TRON: Legacy, and the Uncanny Valley

TRON: Legacy has been getting mixed reviews, but I rather liked it!
It won't be winning any major awards anytime soon, but it was very cool and very fun.
I would give it three and a half stars out of five.

When I first heard about TRON: Legacy over a year ago, I was almost certain that it would be a stand-alone movie that would introduce the younger generations to the concepts of TRON.  After seeing it for myself, I was very surprised at how much the plot depended on knowledge of the first film.
My understanding is that very few young people have seen the original 1982 TRON film, and I think the new sequel would be more than a little confusing to those people.  This may be the reason it has generated some negative reviews.

If you are one who has actually seen the original TRON, congratulations! You have reached an elite level of nerd-hood coveted by many.

Now for my review:

I was very impressed by the performance of Garrett Hedlund who played Sam Flynn.  He did an excellent job, and I think he is destined for movie stardom.  I would like to see him in some more actiony-type-movies.

Olivia Wilde was very good in her role as Quorra.  I liked all of her scenes, especially her fighting scenes.  I wish they would have made the importance of her character more apparent though.  They made a big deal about how she was the last of her kind, and how essential she was, but they never really explained why she was so special.  Perhaps I just need to watch it again.

I was less impressed with Jeff Bridges performance as Kevin Flynn.  True Grit was definitely his better film this year, and possibly the best of his career.  In TRON: Legacy they played the hippie/zen card quite heavily with Bridges, and that seemed strange for such a high-tech setting.

I wish more of the plot would have revolved around Tron himself.  You don't even find out who he is until nearly the end of the film, and he doesn't seem to have much impact on the plot.  I think it would have been better if they had revealed Tron midway through the film, and then had the plot hinge around his character more.  They briefly explained Tron's background, but you don't really get a full sense of his importance unless you have seen the first film. It was nice to see Bruce Boxleitner return though.

The film is definitely visually stunning.  I always had the impression that this new TRON movie would represent what the original TRON would have been like had better technology existed back then.  I was right!  This film brought the concepts and art of the original to a spectacularly new level! It definitely didn't disappoint on the visual front.

Check out the differences between the films in these two trailers.  (By the way, the modern trailer for the original TRON makes it look WAY cooler than it actually is.)

Pretty cool huh?

My only real complaint about TRON: Legacy is the issue of the Uncanny Valley.
If you have never heard of this term, it refers to artificial beings with human-like characteristics.  There is a point when something artificial looks human enough to be convincing, but lacks a certain "living" quality which gives it a creepy appearance.  In TRON: Legacy, this was the case with the younger CGI versions of Jeff Bridges.  If you look at the still images he looks incredibly real, but once you see him moving and talking, you can tell something isn't quite right. 
In fact, the Wikipedia article on the Uncanny Valley actually uses Tron: Legacy as an example.

It is an interesting issue with modern CGI and robotics.

Ok, there you have it.  I hope you have enjoyed this quick little review.  I am eager to hear your thoughts on the film if you have seen it.

OH!  It is also worth mentioning that this film has a KILLER soundtrack!  If you like techno or electronica even a little bit, you will love the music from TRON: Legacy.  Daft Punk combines techno with an epic orchestral score for a very unique and thrilling sound.  Give it a listen.  I am totally digging this music!

"I fight for the Users!"


Nicole said...

Would I be considered one of the "younger generation"? I watched this with my brother and we both liked it. :)

Robby Spratt said...

Yes, you are definitely one of the younger generation, at least as far as the original Tron goes. It came out the year I was born.
So did you and your brother watch the new Tron: Legacy, or the original 1982 Tron together?