TRON:Legacy - That Grid really ties the movie together E-mail
Written by TC Lofton   
Thursday, 16 December 2010 13:05

So it's the early 90's, just about the time of our conflict with Saddam and the I-raqis, I was a young tot in the Midwest, seated behind a tiny desk.  My teacher, Mrs. Trenchard, was asking us a question of the day before we began a conquest of the 3 R's, and the room of ankle-biters was quite excited about it...

"If there was a fictional world you could live in, what would it be?"

The answers were as varied as could possibly be; several girls wanted to live at the Littlest Pet Shop, a majority wanted to reside in the sewers of New York, (Those radical reptiles The Ninja Turtles were quite popular at the time, as was the Super Mario Bros. Super Show,) and some wanted to be knights or starfighters or something extraneous.  The one answer that I remember really sticking out came from Brian H., who confidently raised his hand and answered "I want to live in the Grid!  Forever!"

Huh?  Like the place from that crappy movie TRON that we have to watch for snow days sometimes?  That just sounded stupid.  Plus, the TRON video game was a gyp; you couldn't get past that disc level.  Although I've since come to appreciate one of Disney's less successful efforts of the pre-Eisner era, this was still the extent of my thoughts on the matter.  Kind of cool, but the environment still wasn't anywhere near as cool as, say, Hoth, Middle Earth, or Cybertron.

After this past Monday, I want to change my answer.  I'm with Brian H., and Kevin Flynn.  The Grid is the place for me.  The latest offering from Disney, featuring the return of Duder himself to the fold of the Mouse, is a completely engrossing experience that I would give my left foot to live in.

TRON: Legacy debuts at midnight tonight, but I was fortunate enough to catch an IMAX 3D presentation of the film earlier this week.  Let me go ahead and get this out of the way: if you can possibly do so, spend the extra money and see this film in the biggest format possible.  One of the cooler features of the IMAX version is that, for certain scenes in The Grid, the frame expands to fill the entire screen.  On a screen that can get as big as 8 stories tall, that's pretty immersive.  If you can't do that, still try to find the biggest screen at your local cineplex.  Trust me, it's worth it.

Some 21 years ago, billionaire software developer and cybernetic hero Kevin Flynn (Dude) disappeared from the face of the earth, leaving his young son Sam behind to wonder what happened and where he went.  Now, Sam (Garrett Hedlund) is a 27 year-old college dropout, living off of an allowance that is ample, and exacting occasional revenge against the company that has strayed from his father's vision.  (Imagine if 4Chan was actually just a single handsome dude without tendencies towards 8 year-olds...)  One night, Flynn's former business partner (Bruce Boxleitner) comes to Sam with a page (who still has a pager?) that he received from the old Flynn's arcade, which has been abandoned for 20 years.  Going to his dad's old haunt, Sam finds the project he had been working on when he disappeared, and is sucked into the world that Kevin always told him about: The Grid.  Now a "user" in a program's world, he must help his father overthrow the program that was made in his own image... Clu.  (He's your father!  I'm CLU!  So that's what you call me!  That or uh, His Cluness, Clu-er, or uh... El Cluerino if you're not into the whole brevity thing...)

I was enthralled by this picture.  Every moment seemed to bring more excitement and awe with it.  Now, this wasn't an Oscar winner.  This was a winter blockbuster that suffers from some of the same symptoms you usually see: some bad dialogue, corny premises, and over-the-top action.  But the good more than makes up for the bad.  In the case of a movie like this, suspension of disbelief is everything.  Thanks to the deep, vibrant environments that were created for this, I could believe that I was actually in The Grid... as a matter of fact, I'm somewhat angry that I'm not in The Grid right now.  The visuals are aided and enhanced by the haunting score by Daft Punk, which may be the most important part of the movie.  The lightcycle and discwar scenes that have been showcased in ComicCon clips and animation previews really deliver, making the 1982 originals look like something high schoolers threw together in between classes.

Some of the acting, as I said, is somewhat lackluster.  Garrett Hedlund works in this movie because you know he's not really the lead... Bridges makes this movie his own, in a very Dudelike role.  If the next film centers solely on Sam's character, I might have some trouble following it.  Olivia Wilde is divine in her role as Quorra, the apprentice that ol' Duder has been protecting for so many years.  Michael Sheen gets a few fantastic minutes as Castor, an entertainment program who is one of the last resistors in the Grid.  The most troublesome acting comes from a complicated source: Clu, who is played by Jeff Bridges, is produced by the matte animation process over Duder's live performance.  As a fan of Bridges, I was troubled by the amount of depth and character that this process steals from his work.  There's some nasty dead-eye syndrome going on there.  However, if you remember that Clu is a program, simply an imitation of Flynn, this might be a little more helpful.

All in all, this one is a must-see if you're looking for a good, fun movie.  While the upcoming True Grit may provide more Oscar Material for The Dude, this will be a role that I'll long associate with him.  And if you're a fan of the original, you're going to really enjoy the backstory and easter eggs that are there for you.  Get out there, and let Chalupa know what you think afterwards!  Me, I'm just, uh... gonna go find an arcade machine...

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