In the 28 years it took for “Tron: Legacy” to reach your local Theater or IMAX screen, Communism fell, Al Gore invented the Internet and discovered global warming, and the idea of a movie based around video games became less of a “WTF”. The original “Tron”, for me, was always elusive. Every now and then I'd catch a half hour here, twenty minutes there, always on late night TV, but never had I seen the entire film.
This did not stop me from engorging myself on the Sequel. This movie is the visuals, and they deliver. They deliver in so many ways it's impossible to describe. For all the awards and praise Avatar received for amazing special effects, I enjoyed “Tron: Legacy” more. “Tron: Legacy” felt like a high stakes adventure, whereas Avatar felt like a message picture with some action scenes thrown in.
Actually, the “Avatar” comparisons don't stop there. Both feature characters transported into a mystical faraway world. While “Avatar”'s was essentially a giant jungle we've all seen before with floating rocks, the world of “Tron:Legacy” was fun. It's a dystopian, techno trash, acid trip, playground, with sleek shiny black skyscrapers and hidden levels upon levels. Flying cars? Yep! Weird “N” shaped enemy ships? Sure! Shifting Gravity? Of course! Michael Sheen from “Frost/Nixon” with a pimp cane and eyeliner? Why not!
And, also, spectacular decapitations abound! The way people die in this movie is just splendid. Whenever anyone meets their untimely end in “Tron: Legacy”, they explode into this red, blue, or yellow technomush, their faces pausing just a half a second so we can see the look of anguish on the face of the fallen.
Jeff Bridges is the second name on the marquee behind the visual effects, and in general I was impressed by the acting all around. I mean, really all anyone in this movie has to do is be able to look convincingly sad, angry, or amazed (sometimes all at once), but I kept wondering who Garrett Hedlund was, and where I had seen him, because he's actually really good.
By about the halfway point, The Daft Punk heavy electronica score gets you, the visuals get you, and you're dialed in, you care about the characters, what's going to happen, maybe even on the edge of your seat a little bit. Then it ends...and your disappointed. Not by the sort of weak climax, but because stepping out of the theater means stepping into the the real world. Where 3D glasses don't work the way they should, the good and bad guys aren't color coded, and even Chicago's skyline seems flat.