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“Tron: Legacy”

Some brief thoughts on the Tron sequel/reboot, which I watched last night:

  • Having not been to a movie in a theater in over two years, I was surprised at how obnoxious the pre-movie advertising has become. Gone are the still slideshows with instrumental music, which one could at least chat over, having been replaced with an uninterrupted stream of video ads with blaring music, voiceovers, and strobing imagery which render socializing with friends nearly impossible.
  • The plot of the movie was somewhat thin, but plenty enough to tie together the luscious CGI effects, which were truly impressive throughout the movie (with one exception).
  • In hindsight, I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen the entire original Tron movie. I recommend watching it before seeing this one, as there seemed to be a few references to the earlier film that they expected the audience to understand without added explanation. Overall one is expected to be familiar with the basics of Tron, but aside from that nothing I’m referring to was a major problem — rather, a viewing of the original would simply enhance the experience of the new film at the detail level.
  • The CGI “exception” involved the younger versions of Jeff Bridges. The animation in most places is almost but not quite perfect. With the character Clu, one could forgive the animators a little imperfection (seeing as how the character itself is a digital construct). The scene in the beginning where the real-world Kevin Flynn is talking with the young Sam, however, contains several fleeting instances where the “uncanny valley” effect comes into play. Throughout the film, the tell is always in the movement’s of the mouth, whose movements aren’t quite accurate in some undefinable way. And knowing how the Clu character was played becomes a significant distraction during certain scenes, when he is repeatedly depicted from direct or 3/4 rear views so as to avoid the need to rotoscope the actor’s face.
  • I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to disassociate the person of Julian Assange from the character Zeus.
  • There were a couple of places where I think they could have improved the background story with a few extra lines of dialogue. In particular, the story of the “miracle” that led to Flynn being trapped in the Grid…had they tied it to, say, the exponential growth in information becoming interconnected through the ur-internet of the late 1980s, as a nod to the SF convention of a threshold of information and computing power triggering the spontaneous formation of an artificial intelligence, it would have been quite the slick bit of storytelling.
  • The gratuitous inclusion of a bit of global warming propaganda was disappointing, as were the other boilerplate expressions of anti-modern pessimism in the same exchange.  But the exchange was also thankfully brief and (being wholly gratuitous) had no discernible effect on the rest of the story. It appears to me in hindsight to have simply been a recitation of talking points tossed in at an opportune moment in the film to scratch an irresistible Hollywood itch.
  • Overall it’s worth seeing for the entertainment value. The story isn’t all that deep, and some of the characters and performances are pretty standard-issue. But the effects are quite impressive, and should be seen on the big screen to be fully appreciated. While many people said the same thing about Avatar, at least in the case of Tron:Legacy you aren’t force-fed a deplorable ideology and agenda along with the eye-candy.

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