Monday, December 20, 2010


Brief Movie Review
TRON: Legacy was advertised by Disney for the past 2 years.... and the rumor is, it cost them about 100 million dollars to advertise it globally, in diverse media outlets [even ESPN got in on the Tron movement, and Marvel Comics had a set of about 6 comic book covers featuring their characters wearing Tron-styled costumes]. This strong publicity effort, for a movie that cost over 170 million dollars to create, was a daring feat.

[Cool Promo artwork by Marvel artist, Mark Brooks]

But now that we've seen it, it appears that the new movie had phenomenal CGI graphics, yet it lacked a sound intriguing plot. Those familiar with the original Tron movie released back in 1982 will remember that it was staged as a live video game, featuring human sprites dashing about.

And this new movie tries to push the envelope even further, inserting vehicles with neon-lighted outlines that create cool streaks in the rear wake of their zooming path. The scale of some of the gigantic machinery and the layout of this techno world are stunningly epic. And there is a visible futuristic fabric engrafted into the dwellings and modeling style of the environments shown throughout the movie.

For the original articles I did on TRON: Legacy, check out these links:
LINK 1 [where an overview of the original 1982 movie is presented, along with teasers of the sequel]
and LINK 2 [where cool screenshots of TRON: Legacy are shown]

In the new movie, the character named Kevin [played by Garret Hedlund] was actually portrayed quite well. You could watch his facial expressions and sense the true emotions he was attempting to convey, while engulfed in the arduous task of rescuing his father and escaping from the computer game world of Tron.

Some people don't realize it, but Garret [who plays Sam, the lead star in TRON] also co-stared in a movie called TROY. He was Brad Pitt's cousin, who got killed by Hector while impersonating Achilles [Brad's character].

In this Tron movie sequel, Clu [the leader of the bad guys, who often wears a cape with golden glows on his black suit] has betrayed Sam's father, and taken over the Grid [the virtual domain system that powers the Tron world]. And now, Sam must rescue his dad, Kevin, and escape together from the Grid, with the help of several characters like Quorra [shown in the pic below]. Simultaneously, a plot by Clu that could lead to the destruction of the human world is discovered, thus the three heroes have some tough choices to make.

Being set in a video game world, this movie did have a host of terminologies that made it rather unique, giving alternate names to various things/issues commonly observed in the real world.

For example:
De-rezzing - Killing
Sea of simulation - A deep ocean
Rectified - Brain washed
Programs - "People" in the game world

There is a faint flashback to the classic TV series American Gladiators, which some observant fans will notice in the first act of the movie [when Sam first enters the gaming world of Tron and has to go through a "rite of passage"].

Additionally, there appears to be a slight struggle between presenting the movie as a live video game vs. showcasing it as an imaginative sci fi feature. You can notice it when you observe the full de-rezzing sequences [when the characters die, they actually shatter, almost like glass. I found that occurrence a bit hard to swallow].

At certain stages the characters appeared to undergo fusor-like transformations, using customized rectangular shafts to generate video game vehicles [like the cool jets and light cycles]. It was very imaginative, and there is an aerial dog fight scene in the third act that is extremely fascinating. I also had flashbacks to a cartoon series viewed in my childhood called Pole Position, during some of the racing scenarios. This is definitely the kind of movie that has to be seen in 3D, in order to fully appreciate its visionary presentation.

Inspirational Nostalgia Bite:

And at the very end of Tron 2, the heroes triumph, but not without a sacrifice. And there may even be room for a sequel...

Overall, this movie was very good, not great; since the writers could have done a better job on the script. Everything seemed to be set on fast-forward from the start. And Sam literally knew how to do every task presented to him perfectly in the game world, with no training. It almost seemed like the good guys could have been victorious a lot sooner, if Kevin had just "reintegrated himself" with Clu, the main villain.

But I still recommend this movie. If you enjoy high-speed chases and sci fi worlds, you'll enjoy it.

As if SKYLINE wasn't enough...
Although I previewed it last month, I did not see Skyline. But I heard a few incisive remarks about it from various blogs:

"It sucked like a vacuum"
"It was basically a movie about aliens, with a few humans in it"
"A boring waste of money"
"Cool special effects, but they should have hired better writers"

Apparently, Hydraulx, the CGI production firm in charge of the special effects in that movie, were also hired by Sony Pictures to create another alien invasion feature called "Battle: Los Angeles", which was filmed late last year.

And this year, Sony was contemplating suing Hydraulx for creating Skyline, claiming that they used "ideas, supplied equipment and resources they had gained" from working on the Sony feature to make their own personal sci fi alien feature.
No formal lawsuit has been filed up to this day. Apparently Sony execs were laughing their asses off when they saw Skyline [since they probably believe that their own alien invasion movie is 10-times better].

But per the trailers that were released about a month ago, Battle LA may really not be worth checking out either...

It does star Michelle Rodriguez, who is famously known for her role in The Fast and Furious movie franchise, and she also played a military pilot in the 3D blockbuster Avatar.

Maybe she'll be the sole reason people will want to check out "Skyline 2" in movie theaters next year, on 03/11/2011...