Friday, December 17, 2010

Movie Review: "Tron: Legacy"

There is a moment in Tron: Legacy where Jeff Bridges' Kevin Flynn shows up at a cyber nightclub to save his son, Sam. At his arrival, the lights dim, and with a single touch, he derezzes the evil programs detaining Sam. Kevin Flynn is the creator of the cybernetic universe in Tron: Legacy, and the movie never wants us to forget his deistic importance to the Grid. While, Tron: Legacy could be seen as a father-son story, it is more a movie about the spiritual; the Grid possibly standing in for the spiritual battlefield between God and Satan.

Tron: Legacy starts in 1989. The CEO of tech. company ENCOM, Kevin Flynn, disappears, leaving his son, Sam to grow up embittered and resentful over the next 25 years or so. We catch up with an adult Sam, irresponsible, and with a chip on his shoulder due to his Dad's disappearance. He's spoiled and rich due to the money from is Daddy's estate, but when a page comes from his Dad's office that hasn't been inhabited for over 20 years, Sam goes investigating. One thing comes to another, Sam messes around with a computer, and he is shot inside it, into the Grid! Here Sam soon learns that the only way to live in this world is to fight in gladiatorial combat with computer programs, and it is here that Sam finds his father after 20 years, but getting his father back to the portal to the real world is the adventure.

Like all great adventure stories, in Tron: Legacy you have the hero in Sam Flynn, the villain in the computer program Clu (also played by Jeff Bridges, de-aged by CGI), and you have the mentor in Kevin Flynn himself, the creator. Like The Wizard of Oz or Star Wars before it, it follows a formula. A hero ventures from his Ordinary World into one of the Extraordinary that is both frightening and fantastical at the same time, but what makes these by-the-book adventure stories stand on their own are the messages hidden beneath the material, and that is the true earmark of a fantastic adventure story, and why they are so important to the fabric of storytelling. Tron: Legacy easily joins those ranks, laying everything out in the open with an ease that is comforting, letting the story transpire rather than trying to shove continuous action down our throats, and this is where it manages to be so much more than any other CGI-laden spectacle you'll see this year.

Yes, the CGI is breathtaking, the action perfectly paced throughout the course of the story, but Tron: Legacy manages to stay with the viewer not through these things, but through its battles of the spirit. Kevin Flynn is the Grid, he created it, with his touch he can change or manipulate almost anything he wants, but there is an opposing force that wants to impede Flynn's every move. Flynn long ago created the program Clu, to help him build a perfect society, but like the Fallen Angels, Clu had different ideas of perfection than those of Flynn, and he went rogue, trapping Flynn in the Wasteland of the Grid for over 20 years! Then, Sam comes down to the Grid, the Creator's Son, and he is the only one who can help liberate the Grid from Clu's iron grasp. It is an allegorical spiritual battle. Whether you are religious or not, the story can simply be seen as the battle between Good and Evil within us all. Clu was once part of Kevin Flynn, so in essence he is Flynn's manifestation of the Evil within him, and he must overcome it to save the Grid. It is in these points where the movie is most poignant, and it is what makes the movie not just visually stimulating, but stimulating to your mind as well.

Regardless to all of this, Tron: Legacy is just also a lot of fun. The action is relentless and heart-pounding, probably owing something to the thumping bass of the soundtrack, produced in techno glory by the group Daft Punk, whose computerized music lends an extra edge to this cybernetic adventure. Jeff Bridges is a powerhouse as both Kevin Flynn and Clu. He exudes a larger than life presence throughout the movie, and he is at times fatherly, menacing, and graceful. Garrett Hedlund is a believable movie hero in the stock tradition of 20-somethings who have a chip on his shoulder to only have that chip brushed off by the end, but it is the supporting cast that steals the show. There is an electrifying performance from actor Michael Sheen as a computer program known as Castor, played almost like a warped circus ring leader, who is as slippery a customer as can come in terms of his motives. Though the character of Flynn's loyal sidekick, Quorra is the best of the entire movie. Olivia Wilde plays Quorra as a hardhitting program with a fascination for human life and culture, leading to some funny moments due to her quirky personality. But first and foremost, Quorra is a feministic heroine who seems to show no interest in Sam other than sisterly affection, and it is a relief to see a female character not be used as the love interest and be used to kick some butt. To put it simply, she is a character who yearns for the deeper understandings of things greater than her, a Joan of Arc of the Grid.

I feel like I've gone on-and-on about how fantastic this movie was, because there really isn't a false note to it. Director Joseph Kosinski has crafted an adventure yarn that is woven with spiritual allegories, allowing one to be entertained, moved, and also stimulated. Tron: Legacy is simply movie magic, a sequel way beyond its predecessor, and adventure up there with some of the best of the genre.

I give Tron: Legacy an A+!

No comments:

Post a Comment