Since the main focus of this blog is entertainment media (books, film, tv, music), I consider it my solemn duty to post reviews when I read, listen to, or watch something. Maybe a search engine will catch it and get hits for me. Anyway, I went to see Tron: Legacy today, which I was kind of pumped for, even though (sadly) I have yet to see the original film. Before I analyze the movie itself, I think my readers should know I am a huge Jeff Bridges fan; I seriously could listen to the man read the phone book nonstop for hours and not get sick of it. (He also voices Hyundai and Duracell commercials. I Googled to fact-check, because I would know that voice anywhere, and of course I was right.) I mention this because it may tend to skew my opinions of movies in which he happens to appear. I mean, c’mon, I fell in LOVE with his voice sight unseen when I was about 10 and he did the voiceover for Prince Lir in The Last Unicorn, and I absolutely love pieces of dreck like Kiss Me Goodbye and the 1976 version of King Kong just because of him. So I’m biased, just so you know. The Dude abides.
Tron: Legacy pretty much rocked my socks, as the saying goes. Speaking as someone who didn’t see the first film, this one does a fine job of keeping the casual watcher up to speed on previous events without becoming obviously explanatory. The pacing is tight, the moments of downtime leading seamlessly into the next action sequence. Usually I am not impressed by action films– I tend to fall asleep– but this one kept me engaged with the eye-popping effects it employs, not the least of which is the CGI-enhanced younger version of Bridges as Clu. This device is just creepy enough to make Clu a pretty scary antagonist, without the whole programmed-megalomania angle, so with that added into the mix, suffice it to say that Clu is formidable. Real-time Bridges as Kevin Flynn, trapped in the Grid of his own creation run amok, is completely believable as both a fearful hermit and (SPOILER ALERT) a self-sacrificing hero willing to give up everything to save his son’s life. This is Bridges’ power as an actor: though he does not entirely disappear into a role (did anyone who saw this expect him to say “There’s a beverage here!” at any point?), he is always believable. He never seems to be acting, in fact; every nuance of his characterizations appears genuine, as if he is truly experiencing the inner world of the role he is portraying. He makes acting look easy (as a former drama-club chick, I can attest that it’s not), which is no small talent. Garrett Hedlund is a revelation as Sam, Kevin’s son (why hadn’t I heard of him before this? Have I been living under a rock?), who is drawn into the Grid when he investigates a mysterious pager message originating from his missing father’s old video arcade. The 80’s music utilized in this scene (Journey, Eurythmics) is a clever way of presenting the arcade as presumably frozen in time from the day of the elder Flynn’s disappearance. Hedlund projects just the right mix of cocky attitude and perplexity as he attempts to navigate his new surroundings, and he looks really good in a light-suit (okay, cougar moment over now). Olivia Wilde (House, MD‘s Thirteen) is both badass and charmingly childlike as Quorra, the last of a race of beings spontaneously sprung to life within the Grid (and just as quickly snuffed out by Clu), who takes on the role of Sam’s guide and protector in his new world. And a stunning world it is: the Grid is gorgeously brought to life in neon-brights against a backdrop of utter darkness. In stark contrast is Kevin Flynn’s hideaway, rendered in pure white (nice use of symbolic imagery). The look of the film is a big draw in itself, and the non-stop action, fine performances and the presence of The Dude all combine to make it a joyride. (I think it worth mentioning that I kept forgetting about my popcorn.) I give it a solid A, and must remedy the fact I haven’t seen the first movie AT ONCE.