Sci-Fi Storm

Tron: Legacy gets back on the grid

by on Jan.01, 2011, under Movies

I finally got to see Tron: Legacy. There have been a lot of polarized reviews of the movie (it’s currently a 49% on the Tomatometer), and I have often heard about its lack of a plot – there was a plot, but there were plenty of flaws as well. But that doesn’t make it an unenjoyable experience.

Obviously the visuals are much improved over their 1982 computer graphics, but they still pay homage to the original. Items appear to be more physical – for example, the recognizers actually appear to be vehicles and not just graphic outlines. Transparent objects have a more glass-like feel (and even break like glass – even the programs “de-rez” like glass, but not always – that was inconsistent), including the light cycle trails. The world likewise has a more physical feel to it.

The costuming has also come a long way as well. Similar but not copies, they were 100% physical costumes and not rotoscoped or CGI. The identity discs/weapons are still there, but they are now rings instead of the old frisbee-type discs of old.

I did see it in 3D – and unlike some recent 3D conversions, this was filmed for 3D (although most real-world scenes were intentionally 2D). However, I think I finally realized what I don’t like about 3D in general – forced focus. In the real world, you can focus your eyes on what is close, or what is far. But in a 3D movie, you only get what they want you to focus on. So if there is a 3D gimmick shot where something is “sticking out” of the screen at you, the tip of the object is all that is in focus.

Now where the most contention is around the plot and characters. In general, I think the character portrayals were actually quite good – although I hated how “Zen” Flynn would occasionally turn into “Stoner” Flynn, as if channeling his character from The Men Who Stare At Goats with lines like “Radical, man…” But there is something powerful about when Flynn’s hand hits the floor and he had a direct effect on the world around him.

I liked Quorra (Olivia Wilde), the naive program who had a sense of wonder about her. But I just didn’t get much emotion out of Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund). For the brief moments that Bruce Boxleitner appeared, I think he did well – I would have liked to have seen more of him. Michael Sheen was perfectly over the top for Castor.

I thought it would have made sense if Clu’s subordinate was the image of the Encom chairman (mimicking the original movie), and I kept expecting that Dillinger’s kid was going to show up on the grid as well, but neither were there. In fact, the role of Edward Dillinger was strangely uncredited (but was played by Cillian Murphy).

As for the plot…well, there WAS a story. What was unfortunate was that it was the SAME plot from 1982, with some different characters. It was almost as if this was a remake of the original, but paying homage at the same time. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a fun, entertaining time. In fact, both of my kids said independently mid-movie, “This is awesome!” Sure, it had its flaws, and the twists were completely predictable. But it was still a fun movie to watch.

Now, to geek out a bit – the new “grid” as designed by Flynn and the Encom systems run a UNIX variant. When Sam wakes up Flynn’s hidden system, we even get some information – it runs “SolarOS 4.0.1” – really, SunOS but modified for the movie although it was an interesting choice, as SunOS got rebranded as Solaris some years later. SunOS 4.0.1 running on a sun4m architecture would have been appropriate for 1989, when Flynn disappeared. The commands on screen make sense in the environment if not actually in the situation. But there was one glaring error – the processor type is listed as “i386”. A sun4m would have been a SPARC processor. I find the error very strange given the accuracy of the other information.

And now I’m envisioning a 3D version of the light-cycle game out soon…


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