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Ten Word or Less Review: Run around your house with flashlights instead.  It’s cheaper.

Misguided nostalgia lust has gone too far yet.  I need someone to tell me exactly when the original Tron was deemed a good movie.  Because it’s not.  It’s a terrible movie.  It’s what happens when you let a computer nerd make a movie and not an experienced filmmaker.  I think that fat bastard Harry Knowles may be behind this revisionist nonsense.  The original Tron is a tedious experience, notable only for its primitive but ambitious CGI look.  Its screenplay sucks, there’s no dramatic tension and what’s at stake if the good guys fail is really anyone’s guess.  Someone somewhere convinced a Disney executive that another Tron flick, Tron Legacy, was not only necessary, but very necessary and should cost $200 million.  So after three years in development and scores of corporate manufactured enthusiasm for the property in place, how is it?  Its screenplay sucks, there’s no dramatic tension and what’s at stake is really anyone’s guess.

Legacy picks up a few years after the first film ended.  Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is now a dad and as he stands on the verge of a magnificent technological breakthrough he vanishes.  His son, Sam, gets sad and misses him.  Cut to 20 years later and Sam has grown up into Batman Begins Bruce Wayne, I.E. a rich, directionless misanthrope who wrecks havoc with his own company.  He’s the stock movie orphan that Disney loves, one whose character is defined by daddy issues and not much else.  He also likes his dog and his motorcycle.  One day he’s coerced into checking out his dad’s old arcade, he finds his father’s secret office, turns on computer, and boom, back in the computer world we are.  The laser light show begins.  To bore you with the rest of the actual story would be pointless and cruel.

Tron Legacy is handicapped right off the bat by the fact the audience can no longer be wowed the way it used to be.  Special effects spectaculars are a dime a dozen so Tron Legacy had little hope as any kind of boundary breaker like its woe begotten father film.  Audiences hoping for gobs of visual excess and dizzying action will instead find a shockingly inert movie which runs a needlessly long 125+ minutes.  Just like the original there’s a total lack of narrative tension, character involvement and the story is not only not cohesive, it’s total gibberish.  This is a first draft screenplay that gives first draft screenplays a bad name.  Legacy’s screenplay is cursed with megabytes worth of verbal blathering which never amounts to an idea worth expressing and which no actor, regardless of strength, could make compelling.  Since there’s little story logic to be found a judicious editor and smart director should’ve just thrown this thing into the shredder and cut out about 15-20 minutes of the useless fodder floating around.  A good looking, tightly wound nonsensical light show would’ve been easier to manage than this soggy, bloated one.

Directed by newcomer Joseph Kosinski, this freshman helmer has been tasked to bring something to life that no director could do.  The material handed to him was simply in no shape to be filmed.  He looks to be at least a skilled technician but if he has strengths as a storyteller Tron was an unfortunate place to showcase them.  Legacy is punctuated by a couple of action sequences which liven things up, but as soon as the viewer thinks things are about to look up thanks to some visual razzmatazz, Legacy begins another slow march towards narrative strangulation.  As the screenplay is so dreadful, and with studio tinkering and reshoots abundant, one can maybe not be too harsh on Kosinski.  It feels like a movie no one could’ve made work without extensive rewrites.  But if this mess is what he set out to achieve, his demotion back to commercials and TV shows can’t come soon enough.

As for the actors Jeff Bridges shows up doing his Lebowski/Dude persona with some semi-amusing results.  He seems to be having a kick revisiting this amped up light show he was apart of a lifetime ago but it’s too small an effort to really kick anything up a notch.  His second performance, as a digitized younger version of himself, doesn’t work on a technical level.  The lower half of his CGI mug seems paralyzed and rubbery.  It’s an experiment in CGI advancement not quite ready for showcasing to the public.  Newcomer Garrett Hedlund is saddled with the thankless title role.  He’s a bland, uninteresting hero and if Hedlund possesses any credible acting ability, he’ll have to find somewhere else to showcase it.

No matter how minor a cultural blip the original Tron was it’s somehow been reconstructed as a viable tent pole event flick.  Disney miraculously convinced the movie going public that it fondly remembered the original and needed another.  Its apparent financial success is a bad sign to be sure.  It opens the floodgates for more remakes and sequels to properties no one liked to begin with.  Remember how stupid Krull was?  No you don’t.  It was wonderful.  You loved it.  You need Krull 2: Return to KrullBlack Hole bored you to death way back when?  No it didn’t!  It was awesome!  Get ready for Blacker Hole!  And don’t try to deny it.  You loved the original and when Howard the Duck’s Revenge comes out, you’re seeing it.

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